From The Editors
Welcome to the May 16 issue of the Erie Reader.
Despite having black bars over their eyes, you may recognize the subjects of our cover shot as Domenic Del Greco, Zach Flock, and Evan O'Polka from local theater company Dramashop. A day after the shoot with photographer Heather Prather on Sterretania Road, just off I-90 at an abandoned gas station, the guys from Dramashop posted the following message on Facebook: "Some Dramashop folks participated in a top secret photo shoot for the Erie Reader yesterday. We can't comment on the details, but we will say it was an interesting experience."
The first response, coming from Erie Reader's own Cory Vaillancourt went something like this: "About 1 percent, or maybe 2 percent of Erie will skim the whole thing and cry about how sour it is, which becomes cheesy after time."
The proverbial cow, er, cat's out of the bag, we thought. People will know what we're up to, we worried. Instead, the comments, well, they curdled.
"I hope whatever was caught on camera is raw and utterly gripping in nature," "You guys are really milking this thread for all its worth!" "Holy cow. This got out of hand fast." Just to list a few.
All joking aside, the fine fellas from Dramashop weren't engaged in any illegal activity on our cover. We staged the shoot -- and had a few good laughs -- in hopes of one, being creative, and two, helping draw in our readers to a conversational debate over something we thought you'd never guess: raw milk.
As Jay Stevens reports, Pennsylvania residents can purchase raw milk -- milk having not undergone the process of Pasteurization -- directly from permitted farms or in retails stores. Federal law, however, bans the transportation of raw milk for sale across state lines, meaning if you carry milk from Pennsylvania to, say, Ohio or Maryland, you can be charged with committing a federal crime. And Jay tells us, some people are willing to take that risk.
But why? What's the big deal? Raw milk, as Jay points out, tastes like, well, the milk we're used to drinking. Nothing to cry about, right?
Wrong: This is a big deal
The debate swelling around raw milk has created two polar camps: one group arguing that the benefits from raw milk outweigh any possible risks, and one group asserting that the risks outweigh any possible benefits.
But there's more at play than simply the extremes. Where does government belong when it comes to our food? How does this affect local economy? After visiting farmers selling raw milk, talking to a member of the Raw Milk Freedom Riders, and drinking raw milk himself, Jay Stevens lays out the whole story, from the extremes to all the shades of grey in between in an attempt to see what all the hype and controversy is about.
So sit back with your beverage of choice -- be it raw milk or not -- and enjoy this issue, also featuring UPFRONT's thoughts on Memorial Day, a declaration to retire Chief Wahoo, a tale of The Feather being reborn, Perry Wood, Maria House, art, movies, and music reviews, technology, a food recipe, thoughts on the Costa Concordia and Marcellus Shale, and more. Be sure to tell us what you think at our website, ErieReader.com, and on Facebook and Twitter, so that we can include you in our conversation.