Life reversals: the case of the White Moustache

And now: something completely different, and much more important — indeed, rather uplifting, in the spirit of the season.

We are, obviously, talking about … yogurt.

Way back in May, I wrote a story in The Economist called Red Tape in California: Beware of the yogurt. The title says it all, really. But if you need additional context, my favorite line from the article is:

The tale thus went from Kafka to Catch-22.

In a nutshell, it is the tale of a Zoroastrian father-daughter team (pictured above) in Orange County who make fantastically good “artisinal” yoghurt — or would make it, if it weren’t for California’s bureaucrats. Go read the rest.

Why do I bring this up now? Because there has been an epilogue, which is unfolding still.

A few weeks after the article appeared, Homa (the daughter) emailed me that

… we were requested by two news sources a Chilean newspaper “Las Ultimas Noticias” (a conservative daily based in Santiago), and Fox Business News “America’s Nightly Scoreboard” to give an interview…. We were written up in HaAretz, an Israeli paper, which was basically a translation of your article, except with the headline: “U.S. against Iran– now the scene of yogurt”… A film-maker has asked us for the movie rights, he wants to call the documentary: “The Curdled Crusaders” — Catchy. Tons of people have commented on our FB page and send individual e-mails of support. A few consultants who want to help us more to other states (Tennessee, Texas, Mexico). Some wanting to know where to buy the yogurt (clearly, they didn’t pay attention to the article).

Pretty good, don’t you think?

And now, just the other day, Homa emailed again:

Dear Andreas,

I hope this letter finds you well. There have been quite a few developments for us (specifically in the last three weeks) which most definitely relate back to the piece you wrote on us. Most pleasantly, Secretary of State for Oregon Kate Brown read The Economist piece in November and thought “This shouldn’t happen. Let’s get her to make it up in Oregon.” And so she invited me up, introduced me to regulators and business recruiters and even though their regulations are similar to California, their attitude has been: How can we make this happen for you?” It has been such a nice change.

Also, nine months of begging for an audience, Karen Ross of The CDFA has finally agreed to meet with us (today!) and tell us what exactly the public risk is of using already pasteurized milk.

Ironically, I’ve only made yogurt twice in this whole time. An ideal time, I figured, to experiment with the paleo diet.



10 thoughts on “Life reversals: the case of the White Moustache

  1. She should go on Stossel’s show on FBN. Her story is one he would be interested in. It won’t help her get her business going but she will get some publicity and, likely, offers from other states to cut through their red tape.

    • I would love to do something like this! But press is a funny thing. We’ve turned down some interviews after the Economist article came out. It became clear that if we wanted to get back into business in California, which seemed like a total long-shot anyway, we were better off not (further) ruffling the feathers of the birds who could help us out. It’s beyond ironic….once we got the attention of the press, we were taken seriously but once we were taken seriously, the thought of further telling our story felt like it would jeopardize that progress. It’s been a difficult line to toe given our priority is to get back into business making yogurt. Plus–I’m not particularly diplomatic when it’s about something this close to home and family. For example, this note took forever to write and I had to delete numerous names and curse words. Perhaps I’m best left in print. 🙂

  2. This makes me think of the numerous consumer labels on which I am told that a certain product is known to the state of California to cause cancer.

    I actually use, religiously, a natural progesterone cream which is regarded by credible medical researchers (at least I find them credible, and I am a suspicious medical consumer) as likely to reduce my overall cancer risk; but because synthetic progesteroids (as I call them) are fairly carcinogenic, I find that an insert in the package warns me how California thinks this might give me cancer.

    I’d love to have some of that yogurt.

    • There are yet more layers of irony there. Even as California dumps the red tape, rules, paper, regulations, disclosure etc etc on its people, it actually performs worst in some really important health measures. For example, Californian women (including pregnant women) have the world’s highest levels of the endocrine disruptors found in flame retardants.

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