What Strange Customs These Foreigners Have

The New York Times DC Bureau climbed in their rocketship and sped to a nearby planet, a place others would call “Jon Tester’s DC Apartment”, to report back on the exotic foods consumed by the dwellers therein:

As it turns out, lugging meat from Montana is not much harder than taking some extra suits, and is a lot easier than, say, carrying contraband raw-milk cheeses from France. Their neighbors in Big Sandy raise and feed the only Black Angus cow the Testers currently own, plus two hogs. Though the Testers are not raising livestock themselves now, they still slaughter their own animals and cut the meat, sometimes in 20-below temperatures in the processing facility on their property.

“Jon shoots it and guts it, and we both bone it, and I do all the wrapping,” Mrs. Tester explained.

Senator Tester (or sometimes Mrs. Tester, depending on their travel schedules) then gathers 40 pounds for the trip to Washington. There, it stays in their home freezer until Mrs. Tester comes to visit. (The senator does not cook.)

Is that “raw-milk cheeses” reference a nod to the supposedly superior palate of the reporter, the reader, or both? Because I would wager that the Tester’s beef is probably some of the best you can get in the world, certainly the equal in its own way to raw-milk French cheese. If they’re like some ranchers I know in that same general area, I would guess that the Tester’s cows are the hand-picked best of the herd, fed on grass for a good long time, fattened up on grain but not given so much grain that they need antibiotics, not given hormonal implants, and slaughtered in an immaculately clean facility with a degree of care far beyond the average slaughterhouse. Look at the perfect marbling in the picture of Mrs. Tester cutting the beef – it’s gorgeous. If beef of this quality were served in a restaurant in New York, the Times would be writing twenty graph rhapsodies about its quality and taste.

The reason Testers haul beef from Montana is not because they are quaint and backwards, it’s because they raise good meat. I don’t know why this story needed to be written in the first place, but it sure wasn’t the Times’ DC bureau’s best day.

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157 replies
  1. 1
    lacp says:

    NYT’s just trying to draw a distinction between heartland Murkins who eat Beef-It’s What’s For Dinner, and Kenyan usurpers who dine on middle-class white babies.

  2. 2
    4tehlulz says:

    Is that “raw-milk cheeses” reference a nod to the supposedly superior palate…

    I thought it was a rip on agriculture/custom restrictions, or lack thereof, in the Testers’ case.

  3. 3
    Mino says:

    Heh. They undo the health benefits of the meat by serving it smothered in canned mushroom soup.

  4. 4
    jibeaux says:

    @4tehlulz: Yeah, I just took as it as imported raw milk products are regulated. Which makes it the fairly unremarkable point that “Perfectly Legal Action X is easier than Not So Legal Action Y.”

  5. 5
    Pococurante says:

    Beef fully raised from start to end on grass is much more tasty and has an equal balance of omega 3 and 6. There really is no reason to “finish” with grain. We stopped a few years back and our doctor likes the difference in our yearly blood work.

    Some folks find it difficult to switch over from commodity meats found in typical stores. Grain finishing completely whacks the balance in favor of omega 6. A balance of the fats can come across as gamy or fishy. If you’ve ever had wild game meats and had that experience it’s because for the first time in your life you had “healthy” meat.

    When our own beef runs out I go to the local health food store to buy this guy’s cuts.
    http://slankersgrassfedmeats.c.....tshell.htm

  6. 6

    While the Testers dine in Washington seafood restaurants, which they say trump those back home

    Well duh. Check out Montana’s coastline.

  7. 7
    mistermix says:

    @jibeaux:
    @4tehlulz: I’m probably over-sensitive.

    @Mino: In general, there’s nothing healthy about the kind of heavy-on-the-beef diet Tester eats. If you do farm/ranch labor all day, you can probably keep from fattening up, but Tester is living proof that lack of activity plus that diet will pack on the pounds.

  8. 8

    @Mino: I don’t think health benefits are the first thing on Tester’s mind.

  9. 9
    Stooleo says:

    Does he serve it with an arugula salad and Dijon vinaigrette?

  10. 10
    dogwood says:

    These MSM types don’t get out much, do they?

  11. 11

    @Pococurante:

    “Beef fully raised from start to end on grass is much more tasty …”

    Maybe more healty, but some of the grass-fed beef I have eaten tastes terrible. I bought a grass-fed steak at Whole Paycheck that tasted like grass itself.

    The grain might be bad for you, but it makes one tasty cow.

  12. 12
    The Bobs says:

    Raw milk cheeses are awesome. The French know a little about their national obsession. Got a chuck of raw milk goat cheddar at home now. It is incredible.

  13. 13
    The Moar You Know says:

    “He came in here and he trashed the place, and it’s not his place.”

    It works on any Democrat.

  14. 14
    jayackroyd says:

    Great post MrMix.

    Quality is not always the point: it’s about what one grew up eating and the associations with it.

    No, dammit, quality is the point. They know what they’re getting. Bitman should rip them a new asshole–this is the ultimate in locovore.

  15. 15
    JoshA says:

    I don’t think an election year story about how Sen. Tester eats meat he brings to DC from Montana is something that’s going to hurt him. It probably won’t have an impact, but if there’s an impact anything it’ll likely be helpful. I imagine that’s why he let the reporter into his home.

  16. 16
    Mike Goetz says:

    I don’t get the tetchy overreaction to this article. Maybe ramp down the paranoia a bit?

  17. 17
    Pococurante says:

    @The Other Bob: Sure, for the reasons I already outlined. It would probably take time for your palate to adjust. If you could make the adjustment and develop a taste for a healthy outcome, seems like a win-win.

    The author of the book “Steak” tried Slanker’s and hated it, threw it away. A few months later he found himself in France eating a steak covered in sauce made from hay, and praising the smell and taste of the hay. By the end of the book he is praising grass-fed steaks.

    http://steakthebook.com/the-steaks/

    I used to think nothing in the world could taste better than a Big Mac. These days, not so much…

  18. 18
    Steve says:

    Is there some kind of consensus at this point that pasteurization is a big scam?

  19. 19
    PeakVT says:

    Pointless article, but maybe some NY-area people will drop a bit of money on Tester they wouldn’t have otherwise.

  20. 20
    thrashbluegrass says:

    Umm…to be fair, one of the reasons I moved to Europe was because of the cheese. If you’ve only ever eaten cheese cultured in the US and/or Canada, you’ve been eating what is, flavor-wise, wax.

    Just, y’know, fyi…

  21. 21
    Violet says:

    @4tehlulz:
    As someone who as brought cheeses into the US, I know it’s a right pain to deal with the customs authorities. Perhaps the reporter has tried it as well, or has friends who have tried it. The regulations are somewhat confusing.

    Other than that, I think it’s a fluff piece for Tester. Look how manly he is, slaughtering his own animals and cutting the meat! Look at his hardy farm wife! Or maybe they just seem impossibly exotic to Villagers.

  22. 22
    mistermix says:

    @JoshA: Unless it makes the Glendive Ranger-Review or the Miles City Star, I doubt it will have any impact on the election.

  23. 23
    Violet says:

    @Steve:
    Only if you like Listeria. Non-pasteruized milk can be perfectly safe, but for mass production, it’s much harder to make sure it is.

  24. 24
    Punchy says:

    the only Black Angus cow the Testers currently own

    Racists.

  25. 25
    Svensker says:

    @Violet:

    Or maybe they just seem impossibly exotic to Villagers.

    That’s my bet.

    I still remember the NY Times writer who went to Montana for some outdoor living/rapids shooting/hunting, etc. and was SHOCKED (fywp) that there was actual DANGER involved with some of these activities. Where he and his NY City-bred children might actually get HURT or DIE!!! He was quite pissed about it all.

    Edited for total incompetence, typing-wise.

  26. 26
    Corner Stone says:

    @thrashbluegrass:

    to be fair, one of the reasons I moved to Europe was because of the cheese.

    You moved to a different continent for cheese?
    Sir/Madam, I, for one, salute you.

  27. 27
    Roger Moore says:

    @The Bobs:
    Raw milk cheeses are great, and many of them may be legally produced and/or imported. It’s only fresh and briefly aged (<60 days) raw milk cheeses that are legally problematic. Well aged raw milk cheeses are fine.

  28. 28

    @Pococurante: Have you considered the possibility that maybe not everyone likes the same things that you do?

  29. 29
    J.W. Hamner says:

    Eh… not sure I get the outrage either. If you want to marvel at how out of touch the New York Times is with the rest of the country then read the trials and tribulations of their vegetarian Midwest Bureau chief’s difficulty in finding a decent vegetarian meal outside of New York City.

    He basically describes life for every vegetarian that doesn’t live in a major metro area in the United States, and then acts like everybody should be shocked and appalled by this dreadful state of affairs (Imagine, having to eat Chinese food regularly! Where is the Peruvian?).

  30. 30
    Kathy says:

    If I didn’t have a brother on the farm to supply me with beef, I’d adopt one. The steaks from the last one are fork cuttable. The meat’s damned near organic. No worries about how accurate the package expiration date is. No qualms about antibiotics.

    Way to go, Tester

  31. 31
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    New York paper, Washington bureau, Montana senator.

    The cultural biases that must be observed are obvious.

  32. 32
    jeff says:

    When I lived in LA I had an orange tree in the backyard, just the best thing in the world to go out and pick an orange and sit back and enjoy. Since I knew where the friut came from and that there were no pesticides on it, it was an almost daily ritual. To this day I still wont eat oranges from the market b/c they taste like crap. When you know exactly where your food comes from and take pride in its growth, then hell yes you will lug it back with you to eat instead of going to market.

  33. 33
    srv says:

    Angus is so… plains. Wegyu is where its at.

  34. 34
    J.W. Hamner says:

    If you can get your hands on raw milk (can be easy to impossible depending on your state) you can make your own fresh cheeses easily enough. The differences with mozzarella from raw vs. various levels of pasteurization are quite stark.

  35. 35
    Yutsano says:

    @thrashbluegrass:

    If you’ve only ever eaten cheese cultured in the US and/or Canada

    This may or may not be true for Canada.

  36. 36
    General Stuck says:

    OT

    Jeebus, just heard a leading Iranian nuke scientist just got murdered in a car bomb.

  37. 37
    Elizabelle says:

    Bill Clinton is giving a terrific speech on C-Span 2 now. Almost over, but will be worth watching again when film is up.

    20th anniversary of his presidential campaign, and a plea to the young to remain enthusiastic and keep faith, on what kind of society we want to see.

    Eloquent.

  38. 38
    wrb says:

    @J.W. Hamner:

    There are weird people in this country.

    I once heard someone get all shirty about the bacon in the salad. And that was before the waiter mentioned the drippings in the dressing.

    Freaks.

  39. 39
    srv says:

    @General Stuck: People keep thinking there’s not a war on.

  40. 40
    gogol's wife says:

    @J.W. Hamner:

    I haven’t read that article yet but I’ll be interested in it, since I’m from Kansas City. I find it very strange that a vegetarian would go to Arthur Bryant’s. What did he THINK he was going to find there?

  41. 41
    j low says:

    @Roger Moore: Unfortunately all of the best raw milk cheeses (esp. French) are aged less than 60 days.

  42. 42
    Roger Moore says:

    @Steve:

    Is there some kind of consensus at this point that pasteurization is a big scam?

    It absolutely is not a scam. It is, however, potentially damaging to the taste of milk and milk products and unnecessary if you take other precautions to make sure they are reasonably free from pathogens. That includes fresh milk and milk products where you’ve been scrupulous about hygiene (which is difficult for mass-market products), and fermented milk products where you’ve made sure that beneficial microorganisms have crowded out the dangerous ones. The problem is that the FDA is persnickety about aging of fermented milk products and says you can only be sure the dangerous organisms have been crowded out after 60 days of aging. That excludes some traditional cheeses that people really like.

    @thrashbluegrass:

    If you’ve only ever eaten cheese cultured mass produced in the US and/or Canada, you’ve been eating what is, flavor-wise, wax.

    FTFY. Some of the artisanal cheeses made in the US are as good or better than their traditional European models. Of course they wind up being just about as expensive as their models, so there’s not a huge economic advantage to buying them, but they’re very worth eating.

  43. 43
    ruemara says:

    @Elizabelle: Waste of time. It seems we should just pack up, crown Romney and slash our wrists whilst soaking in our own tears. Perhaps to a Depeché Môde/Cure/Radiohead/Joy Division playlist.

  44. 44
    The Moar You Know says:

    @General Stuck: The Israelis aren’t going to wait around for the US to decide to get involved in yet another quagmire.

    They’re going to drag us into one of their own making. It worked with the South Vietnamese, after all.

  45. 45
    cat says:

    The senator’s loyalty to his state’s beef, in particular, stems not from the hyper food-sourcing that has become a near parody of itself on American menus, but from his own taste preferences, honed from a lifetime of raising, slaughtering and butchering Black Angus cattle.

    You are not, for once, being over sensitive. This as a sotry about how rehal murkin’s obsess about ther food sourcing cause they are teh awesome, not cause they are elitist nitwits.

  46. 46
    Roger Moore says:

    @j low:

    Unfortunately all of the best raw milk cheeses (esp. French) are aged less than 60 days.

    This Roquefort lover begs to disagree.

  47. 47
    Mino says:

    @Cris (without an H): Well, smothered with mushroom gravy, how would he notice?

  48. 48
    The Moar You Know says:

    Is there some kind of consensus at this point that pasteurization is a big scam?

    @Steve: If the milk didn’t come out of an animal I personally own than I damn well want it pasteurized. I love the taste of raw milk, but there’s are some good reasons they came up with the pasteurization process in the first place.

  49. 49
    Amir Khalid says:

    Well, the strap up top sez “Dining and Wine”. And that’s where the story is on the front page, under that same section heading. This is not political coverage as such, just food pr0n NYT-style. And the bit about smuggling in unpasteurized-milk from France is a nod to affluent foodies who travel a lot between America and France — y’know, just the typical NYT reader. No big deal. Relax.

  50. 50
    kdaug says:

    @General Stuck: Funny how those Iranian nuclear scientists keep getting murdered dying under mysterious circumstances.

  51. 51
    Svensker says:

    @General Stuck:

    Jeebus, just heard a leading Iranian nuke scientist just got murdered in a car bomb.

    They hate us for our freedoms…

  52. 52
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Steve:

    Is there some kind of consensus at this point that pasteurization is a big scam?

    It’s an article of faith among (mostly) lefty anti-vaxers that pasteurized milk is essentially poison. You can Google it if you have a high tolerance for quasi-scientific quackery.

  53. 53
    Svensker says:

    @Mino:

    Well, smothered with mushroom gravy, how would he notice?

    You can tell. Trust me.

  54. 54
    J.W. Hamner says:

    @wrb:

    Presuming your response is sarcasm…

    I live with a vegetarian (and former vegan), so I’m not condemning said lifestyle… it can certainly be a difficult choice. It would be better if more places offered vegetarian options. However it’s been getting better in leaps and bounds over the last 10-20 years… and I’m objecting to the fact that his complaint basically boils down to the one all New Yorkers have… that wherever they are isn’t New York City.

  55. 55
    wrb says:

    @J.W. Hamner:

    It was a blend to sarcasm and reporting. The incident did occur. Logging town in N CA.

    And the restaurant would have substituted ham for the bacon if the picky diner had only asked.

  56. 56
    Social Outcast says:

    If beef of this quality were served in a restaurant in New York, the Times would be writing twenty graph rhapsodies about its quality and taste.

    The reporter talks about the high quality of the meat in the story and is surprised that Tester cooks it in a slow cooker with cream of mushroom soup and ketchup. She’s clearly aware that it’s high end material.

  57. 57
    General Stuck says:

    but not given so much grain that they need antibiotics, not given hormonal implants, and slaughtered in an immaculately clean facility with a degree of care far beyond the average slaughterhouse.

    And why I haven’t et nary a bite of cow meat for 8 years. As a former MT resident, I wouldn’t mind a T bone or two from a grass fed bovine like Tester’s/

  58. 58
    Roger Moore says:

    @J.W. Hamner:

    I’m objecting to the fact that his complaint basically boils down to the one all New Yorkers have… that wherever they are isn’t New York City.

    It’s not just that. The author is also admitting he’s such a terrible cook that eating out is a practical necessity. Sorry, but cooking for yourself is a skill every vegetarian needs to have to live in a culture dominated by omnivores; every vegetarian I know personally enjoys cooking. Actually, I’d saying knowing how to cook for yourself is an important life skill for anyone, but that’s especially true for people with unusual food restrictions, including vegetarians.

  59. 59
    Nellcote says:

    Elitist asshole NYT foodie twofer today:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01.....wanted=all

  60. 60
    Krankor says:

    It’s been 7 years but I’m still pissed I can’t get a real Reblochon any more. Without it a tartifilette is just potatoes au gratin really.

  61. 61
    KG says:

    I don’t know why this story needed to be written in the first place, but it sure wasn’t the Times’ DC bureau’s best day.

    To make the rest of us want a really good steak for lunch. Or to make us jealous. Possibly both.

  62. 62
    feebog says:

    Sure seemed to be a fairly benign piece for Tester over all. Except perhaps for the mushroom soup over the beef, ack.

  63. 63
    Mino says:

    @Svensker: Anybody seen that second drone?

  64. 64
    KG says:

    Also, too: I find it somewhat amazing in this day and age that a grown man can’t cook a steak.

  65. 65
    Elizabelle says:

    @ruemara:

    There, there. (Hands over bracing cup of tea.)

    Re Testor: NYTimes headline on story:

    Loyal to His 4-Legged Constituents

    Silly me. I thought he might be into pets’ rights or humane issues.

    Can you be a constituent if you are dead?

    Are we now calling steaks and top round constituents?

    I thought personhood was a bridge too far …

  66. 66
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Social Outcast:

    If Mrs. Tester cooked it in the crockpot, I doubt they were serving the prime cuts that night. It was more likely a piece of chuck or another good stewing cut.

  67. 67
    slag says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Can you be a constituent if you are dead?

    Does brain dead count?

  68. 68
    wrb says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Don’t know.

    The pick-up and deliver butcher who butchers our lambs (and most of the orgaincally-grown meat in the area) always makes it clear that he thinks the crock pot solved cooking. He’ll do weird cuts if you insist, otherwise he butchers for the pot.

  69. 69
    jl says:

    Mustard or ketchup on the beef? And if mustard, All American yellow or fancy pants spicy brown? Those are the real question. Was NYT afraid to touch that?

    Edit: And, what, no gravy?

  70. 70
    Jager says:

    @mistermix: To say nothing about the Wibaux Pioneer-Gazette

  71. 71
    ruemara says:

    @Elizabelle: Thank you, dear. I’m just reacting to the morose predictions of a Romney victory. Probably just need a dose of Earl Grey. And some grass-fed beef.

  72. 72
    gaz says:

    @Roger Moore:

    It is, however, potentially damaging to the taste of milk and milk products and unnecessary if you take other precautions to make sure they are reasonably free from pathogens. That includes fresh milk and milk products where you’ve been scrupulous about hygiene (which is difficult for mass-market products)

    If you translated that to spanish, and then laid that on a rural mexican, a more boisterous one would laugh in your face – most would probably stare at you as though you were insane.

    And this is about people who own one or two cows, and literally sell their milk in buckets. People boil the shit out of it, and if you didn’t, they’d think you were insane.

    And although they average quasi-literate rural mexican with an average rural 5th grade education (at best) may struggle to point you to links like this http://infectiousdiseases.abou.....kborne.htm

    This is essentially why they don’t drink raw milk. Mass produced or otherwise. They know well enough to fear tuberculosis (or a similar thing which they refer to as tuberculosis, as the case may be).

    Tell me what they are doing wrong? Is a field in rural central or southern mexico (say rural Michoacan or Oaxaca) somehow *more* dangerous than a rural field here in say Washington, or California?.

    Sorry man, while I’ll buy that keeping everything uber-clean and controlled *may* reduce the risk of milk borne pathogens down to some acceptable level in some circumstances, it’s a tougher sell to convince me that it’s easy to prevent in a non-mass produced scenario.

  73. 73
    kdaug says:

    @General Stuck:

    As a former MT resident

    Me, too. Some 30 years ago. Billings, Avenue F, Boulder Elementary alum.

  74. 74
    Corner Stone says:

    (The senator does not cook.)

    Who from MT would vote for a senator who doesn’t/can’t grill his own porterhouse steak once in a while, and boil a couple corn on the cobs for 13 minutes on the stove?

  75. 75
    Corner Stone says:

    Over the last few years the Feds have been nutcracking farms all across the US for doing raw milk and cheeses.
    Shutting them down like they were growing medicinal pot.

  76. 76
    cckids says:

    @General Stuck:

    Jeebus, just heard a leading Iranian nuke scientist just got murdered in a car bomb.

    Just wait a minute. . . Gingrich will pop up to say that he’s an amateur explosives scholar & take credit for destroying Iran’s nuke capability.

  77. 77
    mistermix says:

    @Jager: I’ve been through Wibaux many times (coming up from Baker on my way to Glendive), but I’ve never read the local paper.

  78. 78
    Sophia says:

    @gogol’s wife:

    I haven’t read that article yet but I’ll be interested in it, since I’m from Kansas City. I find it very strange that a vegetarian would go to Arthur Bryant’s. What did he THINK he was going to find there?

    Seriously. Whoever was suggesting restaurants to him was trolling him. Golden Ox and Strouds? Also amusing, the writer’s confusion about what we do with all that farmland:

    Even though the region boasts some of the finest farmland in the world, there is a startling lack of fresh produce here.

    You know, the Midwest, produce basket of the country. It doesn’t sound like the man ever cooks or visits a grocery store.

  79. 79
    MikeJ says:

    @Corner Stone: Holy shit! Enforcing the law even when it;s white people breaking it. Unheard of.

  80. 80
    Corner Stone says:

    I kind of liked the article, myself. Seemed like an easy fluffer. It mentioned their move to organic 25 years ago, and some other interesting points.
    And yes, the meat she’s chopping is the kind for stew/braising so a crockpot is good to go.

  81. 81
    J.W. Hamner says:

    @gaz:

    Isn’t quesillo or queso Oaxaca traditionally made from raw milk and served as a fresh cheese?

  82. 82
    Corner Stone says:

    @MikeJ: There’ve been some serious disputes about what exactly they have been enforcing on these farms.

  83. 83
    Dave S. says:

    I was far more disturbed by the purple barley “in a bath of Cool Whip.” What?!?

    I thought Montana was outside the Hotdish Zone although I suppose the mushroom soup is a giveaway.

  84. 84
    gogol's wife says:

    @Sophia:

    It’s like somebody who keeps kosher going to the Bethesda Crab House. There isn’t anything there but crabs, sorry.

  85. 85
  86. 86
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Roger Moore: Yep. But in New York you can get away without cooking, and actually in Manhattan probably do until you are upper middle class because a dirty pan takes up too much space in your kitchen/livingroom/bedroom. Could be right.

  87. 87
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Roger Moore: Yep. But in New York you can get away without cooking, and actually in Manhattan probably do until you are upper middle class because a dirty pan takes up too much space in your kitchen/livingroom/bedroom. Could be right.

  88. 88
    Roger Moore says:

    @gaz:
    Basically, being scrupulous about hygiene means doing all of the following:
    1) Using only sterilized implements and containers for everything
    2) Decontaminating the animal’s udders immediately before milking it
    3) Getting the milk down to 4°C or colder almost immediately after milking
    4) Keeping the milk that cold constantly until consumption.
    Using sterilized implements and decontaminating the animal’s udders minimize the number of microorganisms that get into the milk, and keeping it cold slows down the reproduction of the ones that do manage to infect it. I assume the big problem in rural Mexico is poor access to refrigeration; if you can’t keep the stuff cold almost from the moment it comes out, all the hygiene in collecting it won’t do you any good.

    The problem with mass production is that it’s an avenue for cross contamination. It only takes one batch of contaminated milk to ruin all the stuff it’s mixed with. So if you have one animal and are careful about it, like people who have backyard goats, you’re probably OK. If you have a whole herd, it just takes one infected animal to spoil the whole lot. And, of course, it’s worse with a big herd because the dairy can’t be as attentive to each animal as somebody who only has one.

  89. 89

    @mistermix: Actually, non. It’s the bread and taters that put the pounds on. The book is Why We Get Fat and I’m living proof that FAT IS GOOD.

  90. 90
    gaz says:

    @J.W. Hamner: As is the case of regional cuisines – Mexicans have evolved remarkable ways of curing and preserving their food products over time (things like meat, dairy products, even corn – tortillas!) have been prepared and aged in specific ways that render them safe.

    As you well know, this covers a plurality of cheeses (which basically *depend* on bacteria as part of the process, and could be dangerous if prepared incorrectly)

    Which leads me to “process control”:

    Because, ultimately, it’s about “process control”. Part of reliable process control is making it easy to do it the “right way”.

    Keeping pathogens out of milk? We have one way reliable means to do that. It’s called pasteurization. Teh poors call it “boiling”. /snark

    Yes it harms the flavor.

    But we lack the technology to reliably handle it in other ways.

    Moore is going to end up having to support “raw milk” from a boutique market standpoint. Like the beef in this article. Great if you have access to it, and can afford it, but what about the rest of us?

    Sure, I suppose in theory I could eat nearly anything unprocessed if I had the money/access/inclination.

    But if you really give a shit about Raw Milk you’d probably be some sort of microbial biologist, rather than some starry eyed raw milk shiller on a blog somewhere.

    Or shorter above: Okay Moore, I agree with you, but now find a way to make 710 million tons of milk a year (mass produced or otherwise) safe, accessible and affordable for everyone. Not just the very very few that can afford it.

  91. 91
    Schlemizel says:

    @The Moar You Know:
    I hate milk, have hated it since I was a little kid. Then I lived on my sister & bil’s farm & drank milk taken from the cow & put in the fridge! It is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. But I would not do that for money if I did not see the milk coming out of the cow.

    There is a case working its way through the courts in MN right now of a guy who sickened a bunch of people (killed some? I forget now) the State had shut him down because of his contaminated milk but he kept on selling it anyway.

  92. 92
    Schlemizel says:

    @Mino:
    NAH, the guy was stuck in traffic a scooter pulled along side – attached a bomb & scooted off. Probably took some bystanders with him. More likely a Mossad gig, we don’t like that close-up work

  93. 93
    Schlemizel says:

    @jl:
    Beef? Horseradish!

  94. 94
    kindness says:

    The Senator does not cook.

    What?

    Here we have a Montana boy who states for all to see that he won’t Bar-b-que.

    I not only question his manhood, I say we get a good stout rope and find a tall tree.

  95. 95
    Bridgier says:

    @Jager: Or the Powder River Examiner

  96. 96
    jimmiraybob says:

    Hey, I was just camping over at the Big Sandy. I wonder if it was Tester’s cow that woke me up?

  97. 97
    Raven says:

    @kindness: Q’n and cookin in DC are NOT the same thing pilgrim.

  98. 98
    Maude says:

    @Schlemizel:
    You and I are going to a fancy restaurant and ask to see the cow before we order a glass of milk.

  99. 99
    Roger Moore says:

    @gaz:
    I’m not arguing in favor of raw milk as a mass market product. To the contrary, I don’t think it’s ever going to be practical for the mass market, and I’m amazed that it’s “only” $8 for a half gallon at my local Sprouts (the only market around here that sells it anymore). Raw milk cheeses, especially long-aged ones where you can be confident the pathogens have been eliminated, are a different matter. So are the extremists who raise their own backyard dairy animals. They’re probably better off being very careful about handling than trying to pasteurize the milk themselves, since pasteurization itself requires good process control and can make contamination much worse if you do it wrong. ETA: especially because they probably have more milk than they know what to do with and will wind up drinking it when it’s still really fresh.

    I also get the impression that contemporary dairies tend to over-pasteurize their milk in an attempt to improve its shelf-life. Sadly, organic milk seems to be the worst offender in that regard, so the theoretically better taste from the organic product winds up being overwhelmed by the obvious cooked taste from the overdone pasteurization. I suspect that many people who say they like the flavor of organic milk actually like the cooked taste, and would be happy with conventional milk if it were treated as roughly as the organic stuff is. The best compromise choice for a combination of flavor and safety is the pasteurized but unhomogenized milk you can get in better markets; it has to be pasteurized carefully to preserve the cream top and also avoids the damage from homogenization.

  100. 100
    Corner Stone says:

    @kindness:

    I say we get a good stout rope

    That better be one damn fine rope. I want to buy stock in the company if they can get that done.

  101. 101
    wrb says:

    @Raven:

    Senator has probably just never cooked indoors.

    Wife’s warned him not to try nothin’ that might burn the place down.

  102. 102
    gaz says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Basically, being scrupulous about hygiene means doing all of the following:
    1) Using only sterilized implements and containers for everything
    2) Decontaminating the animal’s udders immediately before milking it
    3) Getting the milk down to 4°C or colder almost immediately after milking
    4) Keeping the milk that cold constantly until consumption.

    We must have been posting at the same time.

    Two things.

    1. This makes most of that 710 million tons of milk either out of reach to most people in terms of cost, or most of this milk cannot be prepared this way. You not only ignore large parts of this country, put basically all of the 3rd world.

    2. Another aspect of process control is being able to reliably measure the milk for infection. A surprisingly costly task in and of itself. Boiling + Refrigeration side steps this by making the milk itself sterilized after-the-fact. *

    *In fact, in mexico, despite the rural cows – many mexicans don’t really have reliable refrigeration, so they irridiate much of their milk and it comes from elsewhere. They don’t store the milk they get from down the street. They use it right away.

    There’s a ton of more stuff to this, so I’m trying to parcel this out in several posts – maybe so I can avoid going on a 20 page dissertation. heh.

  103. 103
    Paris says:

    Nobody made Tester allow a reporter into his apartment. The Repugs are going after his seat with a vengeance. This is just campaign propaganda.

  104. 104
    Schlemizel says:

    @Maude:
    One of my favorite scenes from H2G2 was the animal at the restaurant at the end of the universe. It calmly explained what its tastiest bits were than stated it would “nip out back & shoot itself very humanly”
    Arthur said he wouldn’t eat an animal that was asking you to eat it & someone says “well it wouldn’t be very nice to eat one that DIDN’T want to be eaten!” He then asks for a salad & is told “So, you haven’t spoken with the carrots, have you?”

  105. 105
    Beauzeaux says:

    @Krankor:

    Because of the blessed province of Quebec, we can get raw milk cheeses in Canada. And I’ve bought wheels of Reblochon in Vancouver.

    Other cheeses work fine in tarteflete but it’s the sort of dish that makes one sentimental. I prefer Reblochon because it’s the way I first tasted tarteflete in Burgundy. (I sound so worldly!)

  106. 106
    Roger Moore says:

    @gaz:

    This makes most of that 710 million tons of milk either out of reach to most people in terms of cost, or most of this milk cannot be prepared this way.

    Most milk can’t be prepared that way. I’m sorry if I came off like a raw milk nut who thinks that pasteurization is terrible and unnecessary. I understand exactly why people started pasteurizing their milk, and I’m a supporter of anything that’s had as big a benefit for food safety as pasteurization, even if it isn’t 100% positive. I just think that it is possible to make safe raw milk and raw milk products, and we should allow those things to remain as niche products as long as their producers are willing and able to take the steps necessary to produce them safely.

  107. 107
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    A great many of our Ivy trained “journalists” need tumbrel rides.

    Just sayin’.

  108. 108
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @thrashbluegrass:

    This reminds me of a guy from Missouri in my unit in Germany; he wouldn’t drink German beer for fear it would ruin his taste for St. Louis brewed Budweiser (not REAL Budweiser, from Germany, you know…)

  109. 109
    Mrs. Whatsit says:

    @kdaug:
    It is a small world! I grew up in Billings, too. Broadwater Elementary alum, but my mom taught at Boulder in the early 2000’s. (Tho I have migrated to the hippie paradise of the SF Bay area now)
    As to the beef, my parents both grew up on ranches, and we were spoiled without even realizing it. The small store down the block from us had its own butcher.

  110. 110
    kindness says:

    @Raven: Are you suggesting that they don’t sell Kingsford brickettes and Barbque rigs in Washington DC? I’ll bet they do.

  111. 111
    Jager says:

    @mistermix: When my good bro in law was a young cowboy he teamed roped in Wibaux. The entertainment after the rodeo was a Ronnie Milsap concert. Lar’s roping partner turned to him and said ‘good thing Ronnie’s blind”.

  112. 112
    PowderMonkey says:

    Ha!

    I have been doing that same thing for at least 15 years. Importing pork and Brats from Iowa since I moved to DC. When I visit home I raid the freezer section of the ‘Rents house for the Pork and visit the Fareway meat counter to load up on their special recipe brats. When my parents come out for a visit I also get a shipment. You just can’t beat meat cut by someone who knows what they are doing.

  113. 113
  114. 114
    gogol's wife says:

    @kindness:

    I would faint if I learned that Sen. Tester doesn’t know how to BBQ.

    I just noticed that the author of the vegetarian-in-Kansas City article is named Sulzberger. Gee, I wonder if he’s any relation?

  115. 115
    j low says:

    @Roger Moore: Just a small point- people with dairy cows in their back yards are not all “extremists”. Some of them are farmers. I would hope most people would agree that pasteurization was a fantastic scientific break through that has improved food safety for millions. Most French people would also agree that raw milk products are wonderful. I happen to agree. I was raised on raw milk that my extremist teacher father milked every morning and night from our cow Dulcinea. I seldom use raw milk now because it’s too expensive. I do have two lovely wheels of home made Camembert(ish) aging in my fridge that I made with paseurized (the horror!) milk. Delicious anyway!

  116. 116
    wrb says:

    @kindness:

    I recon they would get testy of Sen John took a chainsaw to the street trees out front of his place.

  117. 117
    gaz says:

    @Roger Moore: Oh, shit…

    sounds like I was talking past you the whole time.

    I blame myself. Raw Milk fetishism is something I hear a lot from people, and clearly, I read that into your argument. Must be knee-jerk to me by now.

    FTR, While I do agree with having restrictions on transport (say from France to the US) – If the FDA had a way to regulate raw milk, I’m all for lifting a bunch of US restrictions on production. Especially for stuff that’s local, does not need extensive transportation, etc.

  118. 118
    gaz says:

    @Schlemizel: Quoting HGTTG automatically wins the thread, AFAIAC

    edit: I had to fix that – i don’t care for the H2 stuff… makes it sound like some sort of compound to me =P =)

  119. 119
    The Bobs says:

    @Corner Stone:
    Corn boiled for 13 minutes, are you insane? I like 5 minutes.

  120. 120
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    All of this is sorta moot if you are poor and can’t afford high quality food.

  121. 121
    gaz says:

    @slag:

    Does brain dead count?

    Unfortunately, yes. Yes it does.

    /cries a little

  122. 122
    gaz says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: Was the basic thrust of my point about the raw milk thing, but I think it applies in the general sense as well.

    On a related note, doesn’t it suck that food banks tend to end up with the worst kinds of things (in terms of healthy stuff)?

    I’m not blaming the food banks, or the people that donate (although the ones who can afford to donate can probably afford to also be mindful of the above when choosing what to give)…

    Just basically blaming the way the world works. I like that many food banks are actively campaigning to try and change this dynamic.

    Now we just need a way to make healthy food cheaper than we can make crap food. That would be teh awesome.

  123. 123
    gaz says:

    @Mino: Yeah – that sucks.

    Honestly, I think the Amish should be allowed partial sovereignty – maybe something like the native americans have (eg: first nations people, whatever u want to call them – as long as it’s not Indian, I’m cool).

    Anyway. Seems if it *was* SWAT (i only briefly glanced the link, sorry) that it was an over-reaction by law enforcement.

    Seriously?, they’re the freakin Amish! you could have probably just asked nicely. heh

  124. 124
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Mino:

    To be fair, FDA inspectors have been murdered in the line of duty, so the point of argument is that they shouldn’t have expected armed resistance from the Amish, not that it’s silly to send armed men in to do the bust. The FDA learned that one the hard way.

  125. 125
    CT Voter says:

    Wait. Jennifer Steinhauer wrote this? Of course.

    Jennifer Steinhauer: The proto-Dowd?

    As I noted a few years ago, New York Times Los Angeles bureau chief Jennifer Steinhauer has a penchant for lacing her stories with cutting rhetoric about liberals. It’s all too reminiscent of Maureen Dowd, whose derisive coverage of Bill Clinton and other Democrats helped vault her to the paper’s op-ed page.

    The latest example of Steinhauer’s approach appears in her report today on new limits on the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles. Late in the article, she works in a gratuitous and unfunny crack about supporters of medical marijuana smelling like patchouli oil.

    ….

    Similarly, her profile of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi back in 2006 parroted conservative codewords, saying Republicans viewed Pelosi as “an Armani-clad elitist who will help push lawmakers toward an agenda of multicultural, tax-raising appeasement,” and misleadingly claimed Pelosi “favors… schools without prayer and death with taxes.” The last two phrases are GOP spin — Pelosi actually opposes organized prayer in schools (not all prayer) and the estate tax (whose elimination Pelosi opposes) only affects a tiny percentage of the Americans who die each year.

    This snideness is nothing new.

    Edited: the blockquotes are screwed up. This post is a quote from the link. Not my commentary.

  126. 126
    gaz says:

    @Mnemosyne: Holy crap batman!

  127. 127
    Mnemosyne says:

    @gaz:

    It happened 10 years ago, but it’s not the kind of thing the FDA is going to forget anytime soon. Stupid assholes with guns ruining things for the rest of us.

  128. 128
    Corner Stone says:

    @The Bobs:

    Corn boiled for 13 minutes, are you insane?

    Yes, yes I am. I boil them like that as a way to encourage the others.
    I won’t stand for any trampish behavior in my household!

  129. 129
    kc says:

    OK, I read the article. It did not seem to me to insinuate that the Testers are “quaint and backwards.” Did I miss something?

    If anything, I come away with the impression that the Testers are better off than most of us, because they know exactly where their beef is coming from and what’s been done to it before it hits their table.

  130. 130
    FuzzyWuzzy says:

    “Jon shoots it and guts it, and we both bone it, and I do all the wrapping,” Mrs. Tester explained.

    I found this the most disturbing of all. How does Mrs. Tester bone the dead animal? Do they both do it at the same time or do they take turns? Do they wear costumes like furries or put on lonely cowpoke outfits or clown gear or latex?

  131. 131
    C.S. says:

    @Corner Stone: Matter of semantics. “Cooking” happens in the kitchen. “Grilling” happens outside. Of course he grills.

  132. 132
    Larv says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    …he wouldn’t drink German beer for fear it would ruin his taste for St. Louis brewed Budweiser (not REAL Budweiser, from Germany, you know…)

    Isn’t real Budweiser Czech?
    /pedant

  133. 133
    Roger Moore says:

    @gaz:

    Oh, shit…
    __
    sounds like I was talking past you the whole time.

    Nothing to be ashamed of. If I can’t make my opinion perfectly clear, I have nobody to blame but myself when I’m misunderstood. There really are some arguments in favor of raw milk beyond just taste. Milk is an interesting substance and contains active proteins with interesting biological functions. I’m not sure if it’s quite as advertized, if only because cow (or sheep, goat, etc.) proteins aren’t 100% immunocompatible, but all that activity is lost when you pasteurize it. That seems like a worthwhile price to pay for losing the potentially lethal microbial activity.

  134. 134
    gaz says:

    @Mnemosyne: No shit right?

    This is totally overkill, like kidnapping & murdering the county clerk overkill, or something. I mean WTF?

    It’s the damned FDA! – the worst thing can do to you is set in motion the paperwork needed to shut you down. As if armed resistance would stop that? What the hell were they expecting to accomplish? It certainly wasn’t self defense, and it wasn’t gonna stop the inevitable shut down. In fact, unless I miss my guess, it GREATLY ACCELERATED it. The mind fucking boggles. Just. Wow.

    Some. People’s. Children.

  135. 135
    Hubris says:

    The reporter actually just likes to write about cooking and food, even outside of her job. OUTRAGE!

  136. 136
    Corner Stone says:

    @C.S.: Pretty easy distinction to make, isn’t it?

  137. 137
    gaz says:

    @Roger Moore: Totally. I just wish we could figure out a better way to separate the good from the bad (WRT to the microbes), on the cheap.

    Or failing that, we had a really easy, reproduce-able, enforceable way to test+regulate raw milk, so that it was more available, and still at least marginally affordable – (this is assuming there would be enough good milk, post testing to keep things feasible – throwing away 50% of the milk is probably not-cost effective, but maybe pasteurizing the “bad” batches and selling it at as “standard grade” would mitigate that.

    With you there. Maybe science will one day present us with a better solution. Of course that would mean we’d need some sort of fiscal incentive to study the issue, I imagine (suck that it may, research usually requires that nowadays)

  138. 138
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Larv:

    There is a Budweis in Hessen (North of Fulda, I’ve visited it) in addition to the Czech variety.

  139. 139
    Svensker says:

    @FuzzyWuzzy:

    I found this the most disturbing of all. How does Mrs. Tester bone the dead animal? Do they both do it at the same time or do they take turns? Do they wear costumes like furries or put on lonely cowpoke outfits or clown gear or latex?

    You know humans having been killing and butchering animals for thousands and thousands of years, right? And that there is considerable skill involved in doing it right, a skill that probably both Testers have?

    Or is this one of those young people’s snark things that I’m missing? If so, get off my lawn.

  140. 140
    ThresherK says:

    @gaz: On a related note, doesn’t it suck that food banks tend to end up with the worst kinds of things (in terms of healthy stuff)?

    I like to live by the rule of not contributing something to the food drive that I would not eat in my own home.

    So during the Xgiving season at my store they were collecting either non-perishables or a whole turkey or turkey breast (which they could store cold) out front.

    I was in a quandry about what to buy with the few bills I had. Hard squash or potatoes weren’t on their list of “non-perishable”–no root cellar I guess! I wasn’t going to give someone a box of stuffing, or “instant mashed potatos”, or canned sweet potatos or a jar of gravy.

    The one saving grace I found? Canned pumpkin. It’s real food!

  141. 141
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Svensker:
    I suspect that by “bone” FuzzyWuzzy is referring, not to the process of removing the animal’s meat from its bones, but to a different, more … intimate process.

    Once you get what I’m saying, you might want to call for some brain bleach.

  142. 142
    Roger Moore says:

    @gaz:
    The underlying problem is that there isn’t any gentle way of getting microbes out of a biological fluid. Anything you do that can kill the microbes will either involve dumping in bactericides, which most people won’t like and could cause problems with the beneficial bacteria in people’s guts, or involve doing something generally nasty that kills off everything including the biological activity you’re trying to preserve. And you can’t physically separate the bacteria from something like milk by filtration because that does bad things to it, too.

    I honestly think the best hope for really safe raw milk is if we can develop cultured organs. People talk about making replacement hearts and stuff, but once you can make those you should also be able to make cultured mammary glands. You could raise them under sterile conditions so the milk is never contaminated in the first place and is collected under ideal conditions. You could also make cultured glands from any species you could get some cells from, which would open up all kinds of possibilities. The most obvious would be to make cultured human glands so you could give babies human milk instead of some kind of formula. Not going to happen any time soon, though.

  143. 143
    gaz says:

    @ThresherK: Good on you, for looking out for your neighbor like that.

    And yeah – you occasionally find gems like canned pumpkin!

    I’ve been fortunate enough in my own endeavors to not require using a food bank – at least since I was 18 or so. But when I was still a teenager, and first moved to seattle I did partake fairly regularly. Landed an IT job, and the rest is history, but I respect them – they supported me when I needed it, and I support them now that I can.

    Northwest Harvest is a gem. They’re bigger, almost corporate in a way, but they do good work, and have consistently bent over backward to serve the people that need it, mostly with *good*, wholesome food.

    Since we’re on the subject, I thought I’d mention them. As an organization, I respect them and support what they are doing. They’ve been a leader, with respect to pushing for wholesome food @ food banks. They managed to get a lot of grocers that generally cater to the upper classish-folks to donate a lot of their good stuff. As I remember, they were the first, at least that I had seen, that had tons of fresh produce, and other quality perishables, *good* canned stuff, lots of great breads, and stuff like *meat* even. (and not roadkill imported from china either – but good stuff). They also went out of their way to serve people who didn’t have an street address to use.

    I still maintain, that if you are poor, or even especially if you are homeless – that aside from the weather, you could do far worse than living in a city like Seattle – and it’s (among many other things) organizations like Northwest Harvest that make it that way.

  144. 144
    Roger Moore says:

    @gaz:

    Now we just need a way to make healthy food cheaper than we can make crap food.

    Step #1 in the process is to stop subsidizing the hell out of crap food. Our agricultural priorities are all screwed up, and a huge part of that is that we give lots of money for farmers to grow bulk commodity crops. Stop subsidizing corn, wheat, rice, and soy, and use the money for nutritional assistance for the poor instead.

  145. 145
    gaz says:

    @Roger Moore: Amen to that!

    Especially corn… we put it in EVERYTHING. Stuff it shouldn’t go in, even (soda, cat food, cars!, etc) good god, and don’t get me started on what *our* corn subsidies have done to mexican farmers either.

    Farm subsidies suck. Exceptions can be made for when they actually do what they were intended to do in the first place – subsidize US farming so we could keep our food-supply in house. I hardly think Con-Agra or Michelle Bachmann really qualify for them, in that respect.

  146. 146
    LanceThruster says:

    Why their steaks have everything but the Mad Cow!

  147. 147
    gaz says:

    @LanceThruster: Probably because they don’t feed their cows Modified Bone-Meal (MBM)… MBM is a euphemism for “dead cow”, or may as well be. I suspect the industry at large knows that cannibalism in mammals tends to result in diseases mysteriously similar to Mad-Cow-Disease. But like the asbestos industry, there’s gonna be a decades long gap between knowing and being forced to do anything about it.

    Plz 2 not feed dead animals to their live counterparts. Not the ones I’ll be eating anyway. kthx!

  148. 148
    gaz says:

    @Roger Moore:

    I honestly think the best hope for really safe raw milk is if we can develop cultured organs.

    All of what you said in that post rings true to me. Particularly, I think the idea you shared which I quoted has some real merit.

    But be careful mentioning it in polite company =), you’d give Jello Biafra fits!

  149. 149
    gaz says:

    @Roger Moore: Oh and as far as separating microbial agents?

    Ever heard of MEMS?

    Nanotech isn’t exactly pie in the sky anymore ;)

    Still probably several (and I mean *several*) years off.

    It has the (albeit questionable) benefit of being less “creepy” seeming than the growing organs thing… personally, I’m down with whatever – in that vein I tend to agree with Douglas Adams – which another poster was kind enough to quote earlier – in the 4th book (TRATEOTU) – he basically pokes fun at people who get creeped out over an “engineered” food product – despite the fact that it’s ideal, humane, and superior, than the more traditional “natural” variety. DA kicked some serious ass. If I was more obnoxious – I could prove he’s got a quotable passage for every situation!

  150. 150

    The reporter talks about the high quality of the meat in the story and is surprised that Tester cooks it in a slow cooker with cream of mushroom soup and ketchup.

    Bleergh. Good on the Testers for choosing their own beef – not so good on them for adulterating it with such substances.

  151. 151
    Svensker says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Once you get what I’m saying, you might want to call for some brain bleach.

    Oh gawd. I am sooooo old.

  152. 152
    Roger Moore says:

    @gaz:
    Unfortunately, I doubt the people who like raw milk because it’s natural and/or traditional are going to go for raw milk from cultured udders. And it might not taste good because many of the interesting flavors in milk come from the things the animals that produce it eat; unless you find some way to reproduce that it may wind up being bland and insipid.

  153. 153
    Dr. Squid says:

    but it sure wasn’t the Times’ DC bureau’s best day.

    Maybe not ever, but probably for the last 20-odd years.

  154. 154
    gaz says:

    @Roger Moore: Yeah but with luck, Darwin will sort these people out.

  155. 155
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    I just think it’s fucking hilarious that the son of Pinch and grandson of Punch (let’s call him “Ponch”), presumably born and raised in Manhattan, has been dispatched to flyover country to earn his journalistic spurs.

  156. 156
    Draylon Hogg says:

    I’m going to move to America and establish a micro brewery specializing in rennet and veal ale. From the looks of this thread I’ll make a fortune.

  157. 157
    Sophia says:

    @pseudonymous in nc: I’m sure attending Brown and spending a few years in PDX really prepared him for the experience. As ridiculous as the vegetarian sustenance article is (really? Iceberg lettuce is the only vegetable on the plate? Who is he dining with?), he has a long way to go before he can top Ann Coulter’s interview in the NY Observer years ago in which she claimed that she loved clerking with a judge in Kansas City because all the people were so active and into skiing. I’m still trying to figure out if that was a sly reference to cocaine or if Ann spent her weekends traveling north to Snow Creek.

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