Cider advisory for Bowens Mills could’ve been avoided

ACHTUNG: The following is not a “fair and balanced” article. It is an editorial by the editor.

The news of the Michigan Health Department’s advisory against drinking cider made at Historic Bowens Mills in Yankee Springs Township leaves me with a double-edge response.

One is that I agree that Bowens Mills should have found a way to have its product properly tested and inspected. The other is a question for the Health Department: What took you so long?

History teaches us that more than 100 years ago the federal government passed the Pure Food and Drug Act in the wake of Upton Sinclair’s widely read expose “The Jungle.” The author outlined filthy practices and resultant impure products for public consumption, prompting the government to pass a law calling for all products made for public consumption be properly tested or inspected.

This is not to suggest that Owen and Carleen Sabin have been making cider at Bowens Mills the old-fashioned but unhealthy way. It is to suggest that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The Sabins have been grinding up apples old school for a long time and I’ve never heard of any complaints. If anything, I’ve heard plenty of compliments.

The Sabins every fall have kicked off their “It’s Cider Time” celebrations every fall with plenty of sales of their cider. It was featured in their many weekend historic re-enactments of Native American and long gone historical eras, put on by interested groups.

My family and I over the years have preferred Bowens Mills cider because of its seemingly more authentic apple taste. Carleen Sabin used to stop in every year at J-Ad Graphics and provide staff members with free samples, a sort of unspoken agreement exchanging the product for publicity.

I would estimate that I quaffed Bowens Mills cider every year between 1988 and 2007, during my tenure as editor of five weekly newspapers. Again, I knew of no one who suffered as gastric distress or any other kind of trouble as a result.

But we must go back to the first take — It’s against regulations to manufacture some kind or product without any kind of oversight to determine whether or not it’s healthy. After nearly 20 years of experience, I believe it is.

But I implore the Sabins and Bowens Mills to have it tested properly, regardless of whether it is pasteurized or not. Then get back to making the product, which over the years has been a unique treat.

1 Comment

  • I agree with you. I was getting ready to go to the mill for my annual cider purchases and some time enjoying the local re-enactments of history when I saw the news. Bowen’s Mill has the best cider I have ever had. I have never been ill from it and will go right back to purchasing it as soon as I can. But I have to agree, get it tested. I worked in the food business for many years and testing is important protection for consumers and manufacturers. I hope they can implement this with little interruption to their business and we can all continue to enjoy the Bowen’s Mill experience.

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