Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Economist Magazine: Red tape in California

Beware of the yogurt

HOMA DASHTAKI and her family came to America from Iran in 1984 and settled in a neighbourhood of Orange County, California favoured by fellow Zoroastrians. The Dashtakis are the kind of immigrants who give California its vibrancy. Ms Dashtaki’s father brought with him a tradition from the old country: the secret of making fantastically good yogurt, the sort that has foodies fighting one another as they throng California’s farmers’ markets. So Ms Dashtaki, spotting a marketing opportunity in her father’s magnificent facial hair, called their little venture “The White Moustache” and prepared to become that all-American immigrant archetype: the entrepreneur.

Alas, after three months of operating (for about $300 in revenues a week, and no profit at all), she encountered that other American tradition, red tape (after the red bands that used to hold bundles of bureaucratic papers together in the old days). For although she had spent a year getting the required permits from Orange County, she had, it turned out, yet to make the acquaintance of the “milk and dairy food safety branch” of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). On a Saturday morning in March, Ms Dashtaki got a call and was told to shut down or risk prosecution.


Posted by Steve Sinai

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