Thursday, July 23, 2009

Another pie in the face of Boone County Government

by Bruce Wallace, Editor
The Boone County Journal

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

It had been a few weeks since I had been to the Farmer's Market and I was happy to see so many vendors on Zach Rippeto's lot last Thursday. However, something seemed amiss. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but something was missing.

As I saw Kit and Cathy Salter step out of the car with their grandson, it suddenly hit me -- Cathy is not here selling pies.

Since the inception of Rippeto's Farmer's Market last year, the Salters have made it a personal task to help it succeed. They have no "dog in the hunt," or any investment. Cathy/Kit have just taken it on as a project because, among other reasons, they think a strong Farmer's Market is a good thing for a thriving community to have.

Their efforts, and those of others, have paid off.

From my college days in Fayetteville, Arkansas, I could remember the trucks and booths line up around the square with vendors selling every kind of produce I could imagine -- and some I was not acquainted with before.

The Ashland Farmer's Market has slowly built to the point where we have purple carrots and a sunglasses-wearing Labrador Retriever and numerous others selling vegetables, pies, homemade bread, etc. It has been a gathering place with the Salters anchored in the northwest corner of the lot selling a couple of pies each week that Cathy made that morning. She always sold out and always had customers coming back for more.

Until recently.

I thought since the Salters' grandson was visiting, Cathy had taken a week off of baking. Not so. Cathy told me the Boone County Health Department and arrived on the scene at a recent Farmer's Market and shut down her table of pies.

It seems as though Cathy had not cooked her pies in a commercial, inspected oven. Not that she could invite the Boone County health inspectors to her home. Pies and commercially-owned foods must be "manufactured" in a commercial kitchen separate from her home kitchen. It should have been no surprise - the rules and regs are clearly noted on the health department's web site: "All processed foods must come from an approved and inspected kitchen."

Of course, if Cathy's pies were baked in a commercial oven, they likely wouldn't taste quite as homemade, now, would they?

Bake sale wanna-bes raising money for everything from Girl Scouts to cheerleading, be aware.

"Here in Boone County they are sticklers and bigger pain in the butt than any other county we go to," said one vendor, who certainly didn't want to single himself out for inspectors by providing his name. "Anytime you mix contents to make a product - whether it's pies, jelly or even salsa, they will nail you. And the Boone County staff seems to enjoy putting it to the little guys."

No doubt the Boone County Board of Health has a job to do. No doubt we want them inspecting the kitchens of our restaurants in order to make sure they maintain healthy standards.

But, like most local governmental agencies, they have more to do than they have people. Which makes you wonder why an overextended county agency is inspecting a southern Boone Farmer's Market which isn't even required by the City of Ashland to collect sales tax.

It makes me wonder how we ever fed thousands of football fans so much barbecue over the past four or five years. How have those health inspectors saved us from the bake sales and lemonade stands around town?

Full disclosure: Cathy Salter does write a column for this newspaper and she and I are friends. However, due to my diet (and the fact that I like ice cream better than pie) I have not tried one of Salter's pies. Usually, they are all sold before I make it over to the Farmer's Market parking lot.

So, after a couple of years, the Boone County Health Department shows up to inspect and shut down a a small part of the party at Johnson and Maple. Of course Salter and others at the Farmer's Martket didn't want this to be written up in the newspaper because they were sure it would mean punitive punishment for the rest of the market.

Really? How sad is it that we have a branch of our county government that spreads that kind of fear amongst they people they are supposed to serve?

Salter and her pies?

No complaint, many happy customers.

Oh, if we could only say the same for Boone County government.

[Ed. Note: Cathy Salter may be Southern Boone County's biggest booster. She also writes a weekly column, Notes from Boomerang Creek, for both the Columbia Daily Tribune and the Boone County Journal. Husband Kit is the retired chair of the MU Geography Department. Too bad Boone County government can't put the same effort into staffing up and helping out the Central Missouri Humane Society, whose problems pose a much greater health threat that Mrs. Salter's pies].

3) Pack Matthews: Pianist, Composer, and "Soul Seat" Inventor
COLUMBIA, 7/23/09 (Beat Byte) -- Combining charity with entrepreneurship, well-known local musician Pack Matthews, who is also a yoga instructor, has invented and is manufacturing what one physician calls "The Perfect Chair."
The Soul Seat, as Matthews named it, is an ergonomically-designed chair "that's not only functional. It’s beautiful. The base pushes the limits of design with its symmetrical curve patterned after the Navajo bear found throughout Native American art," sales literature reads.
Donating a portion of his profits to Personal Energy Transportation International, which makes vehicles for individuals with disabilities in poor and underdeveloped countries, Matthews will have the seats on display at these upcoming locations:
Artrageous Friday in Columbia, Missouri, Friday, July 24, 2009 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Orr Street Studio
Boone County Fair, July 20-25, 2009, Columbia, Missouri
First Friday Art Walk, Fairfield, Iowa, August 7, 2009


  1. A part of me understands your feelings toward the Boone County Health Department on this issue, but I think you are ignoring the complexity. You are not arguing against a commercial food preparation health code, but saying that perhaps their "line" is drawn incorrectly. But you have not stated where you would draw that line. If there should be some regulation and enforcement, where should it stop? Restaurants should be inspected, but not pie makers? And if someone gets sick consuming something prepared in an uninspected kitchen, the public must be prepared that there shall be no accountability on behalf of government--as there is every time there is an e. coli. outbreak, or other unsavory food recall.

    But before I go, and the only reason I felt the need to comment, remember that allowing people to break the rules punishes those who follow them. I do pay rent, sales tax, insurance and inspection fees so that I can run a food business. But, I have to compete with others who do not, and thus can charge less and offer more flexibility than I am able.

    If laws exist for our protection, we can not go criticizing the people who enforce them. I would venture to guess that you would not take kindly to law enforcement telling you that they ignoring drivers who are only a "little drunk" unless they actually kill someone--so you know, your insurance should cover your car damage... Just a thought, Lisa Scribner, owner Columbia's Kitchen

  2. I'm sitting on the Soul Seat at my office right now and feel very energized, especially for a Friday. I'll be demonstrating the seat tonight at Orr Street studio from 6 to 9 as part of Artrageous Friday. Come try it out!