Friday, December 16, 2011

The Attack of the....cookie dough?

So the latest food scare is...ready for it?  raw cookie dough.  Yeah, apparently a big e.coli outbreak across the states has been traced back to pre-made, store-bought cookie dough, eaten raw.  And the chicken farmers are safe this time, it wasn't the eggs; it was the flour.  The FLOUR!  Somewhere along the line in the production, the flour became contaminated with e.coli which would have been killed if the consumers had cooked it, but they, like any good child, ate it raw. 
There is so much wrong with this.  Firstly, why are people buying cookie dough?  Even a college student can surely throw together the 3+ ingredients it takes to bake a batch of cookies.  There is no way that there is enough time savings in buying cookie dough, bringing it home, figuring out how to open the can/tube, greasing a pan, preheating the oven, throwing out the empty tube/can and cooling them, compared to mixing up ingredients in a bowl to make it worthwhile consuming whatever preservatives and not-pronouncable words are in that tube/can.  Cookies are so EASY and (mostly) FUN! 
But the thing that really bothers me about this is that the take home message we're being served as a result of the outbreak is that its our fault for eating raw cookie dough, not the fault of the giant factory making bad product.  "Don't eat raw cookie dough, period" is the headline from one paper.  So that's it childhood, see ya later.  My kids are doomed.  In fact, over the last two weeks of Christmas baking, the three of us should be put in a museum as miracles of survival under the harshest conditions of nearly DAILY raw cookie dough consumption. The horrors!
Before cookie dough goes the way of dinosaurs and real eggnog (made with real, raw(!) eggs) here's the simple truth; make food you trust with ingredients you trust and ENJOY IT!  I splurged on my last bulk order from Speerville Mills (in New Brunswick) and ordered a special pastry flour to see if my Christmas baking would be any different from when I use the regular Speerville white and whole wheat.  It is a really nice flour and has that distinct flour taste that I've come to expect from baking now and as I was scooping out another cup for (yet another) batch of cookies (a favorite time consumer these heady days of waiting) I noticed that it had the farmer's name right on the label.  Because it's a specialty flour, made in small batches I guess that Speerville has the one farmer growing that particular wheat, so they have his name right there; Murray Bunnet.   He also happens to be the farmer we bought our soybean roaster from in NB and as I sprinkling the flour on the counter (or 'making it snow' as we call it here these days), and thinking about the raw cookie cookie dough debacle, once again I was so thankful to have the access to quality food that I can trust, because I KNOW the farmers who GREW it!  Short of grinding my own flour (which is not likely something I'm going to take up as long as Speerville can do it better), this is about as 'secure' as my food can get. 
I guess that is the kind of marketing freedom that brought about the eradication of the wheat board, but I'm afraid that without the wheat board we're even farther from any chance of real food 'security'.  Once Cargill (for one large example) has free reign to set prices because they are the new monopoly, farmers will surely feel the crunch of corporate greed. Oh my, this is a whole other entry.  Where was I?
Ah yes, the cookie dough.
Well, I hope that after reading this, you will gather up the ingredients for your favorite cookie recipe, use some good quality eggs from a farm you trust, add the special touches that make you happy and eat all the dough you want.  May you have a mildly sore belly from too much butter and sugar and sticky fingers and a smiley face.  May you NOT fight to the death (or at least until bleeding) with your sibling over the last scraps of dough left in the bowl on on the spoon- or maybe that's just at our house.

Anyway, I keep intending to post an inventory of the millions of Christmas projects that have been undertaken around here this year, but those 'projects' tend to be fairly patience-consuming and by the time the activity/recipe/craft/decoration/story/card/gift is done, nobody feels like remembering that it happened, let alone recording it for eternity.  :)

That first lamb is doing really well.  She's a fast growing little beauty but is strangely a bit lonely.  Yes, it would seem that she is a bit of an oddity since no one else is showing signs of lambing anytime soon.  Well some of the girls are 'bagged up' as we say, but it's been that way for a month now.  There goes my super stellar records.  Yes, I AM a record keeping consultant, but it's the sheep!  They don't always (or ever) do what they're supposed to, when they're supposed to do it. 

Other news from the farm is pretty quiet.  Mark is 'puttering' when he's not hauling mussel shells and devising ways to unload them in soft fields. 

Ah, computer time is up, or so says the baby tugging at my pantleg. 

I hope this finds you looking forward to a relaxed and joyful Christmas full of all your favorite traditions!  Consider your local farmer when preparing for all those big meals!



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