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Where is the artisan milk market?

And what kind of animal got milked to make the cheese?

Milk: literally baby food.
Milk: literally baby food.

Dear Hipster:

Maybe you can help me out with this thing I’ve been pondering lately. It’s a question of hipster commodities. Why is it possible to get a nearly infinite variety of artisan cheeses, but there’s only like two options for fancy milk at the grocery store? Is this some sort of weird hipster oversight? The difference between milk and cheese is like the difference between beer and bread, i.e. little more than a shift in time and temperature applied to the same basic ingredients, and yet the two things have totally different presences on the hipster spectrum. Back when we used to go to restaurants all the time, I remember seeing menus that listed off half-a-dozen cheeses, and each one would come with a little legend that indicted where the cheese was from, what kind of animal got milked to make the cheese, what the animal’s name was, etc. etc. etc. But it’s not like you can go to a restaurant and get a glass of artisan ewe’s milk to go with your dinner. That’s weird, right? How come there isn’t a hipster milk market?

— Dan S.

The way I see it, there are two potential explanations for this one.

(1) Government regulations related to the production, packaging, transportation, storage, and sale of dairy products generally erect steep barriers to entry into the United States’ dairy market. These barriers to entry pose no threat to large, institutional dairy producers, who have no particular incentive to invest resources into products where there is going to be anything less than a robust, nationwide market. On the other hand, the kind of small producers who might target a niche market for artisan milk are effectively frozen out of the market because of excessive compliance costs; or

(2) Milk is for toddlers.

Talk amongst yourselves and decide which explanation makes more sense.

Dear Hipster:

Going through some of my stuff the other day, I found letters from my grandmother. She had really amazing handwriting. I don’t know anyone who can write like that anymore. Do you think elegant handwriting will ever make a comeback?

— Edye

I think the Millennial equivalent of having excellent handwriting is probably texting in complete sentences, but maybe there’s a movement brewing to revitalize the forgotten craft of penmanship, sort of like the “bring back typewriters” thing that’s always almost catching on. But this is sort of a different thing, because it’s not like writing by hand ever went away. People still do it all they time, it’s just that they aren’t any good at it anymore. Unlike, say, typewriters, pens and pencils didn’t go entirely out of production. That takes away one of the biggest draws to bringing back an obsolete medium because there’s no fun quest to the thrift shop hoping to score a vintage Underwood, or whatever. I suppose somebody could make an effort to bring back dip pens (or even quills) and blotting paper as a means of writing “old school,” but the charm wears off almost immediately after about ten minutes of ink spills and trying to decipher handwriting that has somehow become both spidery and blotchy at the same time. People usually quit this effort somewhere between having every letter turn into a blurry version of the alchemical symbol for vinegar of antimony and having the pen run out of ink so you end up forcibly inscribing ghost letters into the surface of your chosen medium.

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Milk: literally baby food.
Milk: literally baby food.

Dear Hipster:

Maybe you can help me out with this thing I’ve been pondering lately. It’s a question of hipster commodities. Why is it possible to get a nearly infinite variety of artisan cheeses, but there’s only like two options for fancy milk at the grocery store? Is this some sort of weird hipster oversight? The difference between milk and cheese is like the difference between beer and bread, i.e. little more than a shift in time and temperature applied to the same basic ingredients, and yet the two things have totally different presences on the hipster spectrum. Back when we used to go to restaurants all the time, I remember seeing menus that listed off half-a-dozen cheeses, and each one would come with a little legend that indicted where the cheese was from, what kind of animal got milked to make the cheese, what the animal’s name was, etc. etc. etc. But it’s not like you can go to a restaurant and get a glass of artisan ewe’s milk to go with your dinner. That’s weird, right? How come there isn’t a hipster milk market?

— Dan S.

The way I see it, there are two potential explanations for this one.

(1) Government regulations related to the production, packaging, transportation, storage, and sale of dairy products generally erect steep barriers to entry into the United States’ dairy market. These barriers to entry pose no threat to large, institutional dairy producers, who have no particular incentive to invest resources into products where there is going to be anything less than a robust, nationwide market. On the other hand, the kind of small producers who might target a niche market for artisan milk are effectively frozen out of the market because of excessive compliance costs; or

(2) Milk is for toddlers.

Talk amongst yourselves and decide which explanation makes more sense.

Dear Hipster:

Going through some of my stuff the other day, I found letters from my grandmother. She had really amazing handwriting. I don’t know anyone who can write like that anymore. Do you think elegant handwriting will ever make a comeback?

— Edye

I think the Millennial equivalent of having excellent handwriting is probably texting in complete sentences, but maybe there’s a movement brewing to revitalize the forgotten craft of penmanship, sort of like the “bring back typewriters” thing that’s always almost catching on. But this is sort of a different thing, because it’s not like writing by hand ever went away. People still do it all they time, it’s just that they aren’t any good at it anymore. Unlike, say, typewriters, pens and pencils didn’t go entirely out of production. That takes away one of the biggest draws to bringing back an obsolete medium because there’s no fun quest to the thrift shop hoping to score a vintage Underwood, or whatever. I suppose somebody could make an effort to bring back dip pens (or even quills) and blotting paper as a means of writing “old school,” but the charm wears off almost immediately after about ten minutes of ink spills and trying to decipher handwriting that has somehow become both spidery and blotchy at the same time. People usually quit this effort somewhere between having every letter turn into a blurry version of the alchemical symbol for vinegar of antimony and having the pen run out of ink so you end up forcibly inscribing ghost letters into the surface of your chosen medium.

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