Milking It

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It might feel like Brooklyn is food obsessed, what with a cooking-centric dating show, a whole new class of chocolatemaker, and Greenmarket-sourced food delivery service, but it’s not like we’re rioting over milk.

In the 1930s in New York, upstate farmers saw milk prices fall, while city consumers saw prices rise, creating extreme hardship for both groups. The culprit? Profits skimmed off the top by processing and distribution companies. Farmers and city folk joined together to form the Consumer-Farmer Milk Cooperative, which became such a powerhouse that the Special Investigation Committee on Un-American activities even identified them as a communist organization.

Now through April 3 , City Reliquary is hosting the NY Food Museum show, Over Spilt Milk: The Fight for Fair Price & Fair Profit in Depression Era New York which tells the story of the milk pricing crisis and the organization of the Milk Cooperative. The curator, Hi’ilei Dye, has created an exhibit that carefully traces the story, pulling together a a fluid narrative out of issues that include labor history, agricultural policy and the idea of fairly priced food as a basic human right.

The City Reliquary is a bizarre collection of treasures of the city, housed in three rooms on Metropolitan Ave. near the BQE. It’s the perfect spot for the dairy ephemera that illustrates Spilt Milk. Meyer Parodneck, one of the lead organizers of the co-op, also invented the paper milk carton, was the first to promote an exclusive paper milk carton distribution policy, a cheaper, more efficient system, and the Reliquary has ’30s era cartons (without the ’30s era milk inside) on display, along with vintage milk and farm advertising.

City Reliquary, 370 Metropolitan Ave. Open Saturday and Sunday, noon to 6pm.

Special Valentine’s Note
We’ve had a couple requests for more of our Valentine’s date ideas. This one isn’t for everyone, but we’d love a trip to Roebling Tea Room or Walter Foods for brunch, followed by a stroll through City Reliquary and then maybe a trip to the Bedford Cheese Shop to celebrate milk in its highest form. Don’t forget to stop by Uva on your way home with that cheese.

Sent by Chrysanthe and Annaliese. Photos by Brooklyn Based.

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