FUNERAL FARE

            Front page article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal about churches no longer bringing potluck type meals to feed the family at a funeral.  Seems more and more churches are using caterers instead.

             The reason?  Fears about food safety being driven by their insurance providers.  I think the average person has no clue how much food availability is driven by insurance companies.

             I have never heard of anyone being sickened by food provided by parishioners in a church.  I suppose it's happened, but I've eaten lots of meals in churches after funerals and never had an issue.

             More and more, insurance companies determine accepted practice, which of course is determined by government bureaucrats.  Most of the time whenever a food safety bureaucrat speaks at a small farm conference, attendees come out petrified of doing anything with food.  The obvious default position for safe food is industrial fare from extremely large purveyors.

             Insurance companies get their directives from the government food police, which has a fairly universal policy to discourage do-it-yourself food preparation.  I think if most inspectors had their way, the home kitchen would cease to exist.

             The overall problem here is that insurance companies are too timid to question bureaucratic orthodoxy because the whole culture has been duped into thinking such orthodoxy is the gospel according to food.  That now this threatens to destroy one of the most emotionally healing and charitable activities churches have historically offered to grieving families is not only wrongheaded; it's downright anti-human.

             Gradually local, social, communal food structure is being replaced by segregated preparation and service by strangers.  If that isn't a benchmark of societal dysfunction, I don't know what is.  So now Aunt Mabel can't bring her potato salad to the funeral dinner; she's supposed to earn enough cash to put enough in the offering plate to hire a professional chef off site to bring in the food.  Tragic.

             As I see this kind of thing developing, I'm hoping that someone somewhere will realize that reason and common sense are worth insuring.  It seems to me like there's enough room around the edges of these activities to create opportunities for a savvy entrepreneur to insure historically normal activities like church potlucks, community hog killin's, cider making, and apple butter made in open copper kettles.

People have been doing this for a lot longer than Sysco has been bringing factory farmed industrial junk to caterers to prepare in inspected kitchens adorned with government-certified licenses hanging on the walls.

             This is not progress.  And yet it's considered progressive to want more regulations, bigger government agencies, more licenses, more inspections, more anti-normal preposterous orthodoxies.  We live in interesting times.

             Is the risk of bad food greater from Aunt Mabel or from Sysco's wholesale offerings?