That’s Not Kosher
The closest I come to being a vegan is when I’m asleep. I used to think I was also meeting the strict standards of veganism when I was drinking beer, which would have made me about eighty-five percent vegan, because I spend at least that much of every day either sleeping or drinking beer. But my calculations have been called into question by knowledgeable experts on the vegan lifestyle, by which I mean a couple of people I met in a bar.
Strict vegans, they told me, consider yeast an animal, so they don’t consume alcoholic beverages.
I’m not entirely convinced that’s true. Some online sources say yeast is a fungus. Others claim it’s close to a plant, but still an animal. Still others say it’s sorta like both, but not enough to be either. At which point I got thirsty and tired, and gave up my research to have a beer and nap.
I bring all this up because … hmmm, I’m sure there was a reason. Oh yeah, milk. One of the few other areas where vegans and I are in full agreement is milk. I haven’t drunk any since I was a kid and then, only under duress. I sometimes use a splash when I make scrambled eggs, but it’s not necessary and if there wasn’t any in the refrigerator (and I wonder how it gets in there, along with all the other food on the shelves – I’ll definitely have to ask my wife about that), I could get by without it. As far as I’m concerned, all cow juice in the state should be directed to Gifford’s ice cream plants for conversion into Maine Deer Tracks.
Which I understand isn’t even close to vegan, what with the deer parts and all.
But back to milk, which is white and icky and comes from parts of the cow I’d just as soon have no contact with. Unfortunately, not everyone feels that way. For instance, Maine’s Own Organic Milk Co. – MOOMilk, for short – seems to think milk is such swell stuff that it’s sort of exempt from certain legal restrictions, such as those against trademark infringement.
MOOMilk, which is a cooperative of small organic dairy farmers, is being sued by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America because its milk containers carry a symbol signifying the contents are vegan.
Oops, sorry, of course they’re not vegan. Milk, coming from cows, never is, because there’s none of that yeast-like ambiguity about cows. They, like the Boston Bruins, are definitely animals.
But back to the legal case. The symbol in question – a “U” inside an “O” – signifies the milk is kosher, which means it meets the strict standards of Jewish dietary laws, which make the rules for being considered vegan look pretty lax. Vegans, for instance, can eat plants even if they’re kind of dirty. People who keep kosher have rules about cleanliness that pretty much exclude everything in my refrigerator.
Even so, the lawsuit doesn’t claim MOOMilk’s products aren’t kosher. The Orthodox Union is arguing that the dairy is using the symbol without paying the required fee, which comes to a hefty $5,500 per year.
Here’s the background: In 2010, the union learned MOOMilk was claiming its products were kosher and using the symbol, even though it hadn’t been approved to do so. After some emailing full of cease-and-desist kind of language, MOOMilk agreed to be inspected and to comply with the union’s rules, including paying that fee.
But it never paid up.
MOOMilk officials say that was because the company was having financial problems back then, but it’s now doing fine. Except it still can’t afford the entire fee, so it’s trying to negotiate a lesser amount. The union doesn’t seem very interested in that idea and wants the dairy to immediately stop distributing milk in packaging claiming it’s kosher, as well as paying damages and being forced to go on a vegan diet.
A federal judge in Massachusetts will eventually have to decide what’s … er … kosher and what isn’t.
This is yet another reason I prefer to drink beer: less legal – and religious – angst.
Speaking of angst, somebody in Woolwich has had a serious case of it, not to mention guilt, remorse, disgust, depression, and unsatisfactory mental self-examinations. Late last month, that person (or, possibly, persons) stole two all-terrain vehicles and a chainsaw from a local home. The thief kept those items for a couple of weeks and then, without explanation, returned them.
It’s not clear whether this is part of a trend whereby criminals will take stuff temporarily for particular projects – in this case, maybe they needed to clear a trail so they could go four-wheelin’ – after which they’ll return the loot in good condition, perhaps with a thank-you note and a container of homemade cookies.
If so, I have a number of items they can steal, including an old washing machine, broken exercise equipment (not mine, my wife’s), and some well-worn tires that don’t appear to fit any known brand of motor vehicle. The thieves don’t even have to bring any of it back. I would like the cookies, though. Oatmeal with dark chocolate chips if it’s not too much trouble. You’d be surprised how well they go with a nice beer.
Finally in this week’s news comes word that Brunswick (motto: Wicked Jealous Of Portland Since 1832) has been named by Smithsonian Magazine as one of the “20 Most Kosher Towns In America.”
Wait. That’s wrong. It’s supposed to be one of the “20 Best Small Towns in America.” Brunswick was picked on the basis of having a college, museums, restaurants, arty-farty stuff ,and being under twenty-five thousand population.
That standard is nowhere as tough as being kosher.
Al Diamon started the day with a breakfast of French toast and bacon, which pretty much eliminated any chance of his being named either kosher or vegan. Still, he feels it was worth it. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.