Moonshine and Edible Authenticity

What Women Really Think
July 21 2010 3:27 PM

Moonshine and Edible Authenticity

Another day, another article about the revival of authentic foodstuffs to go along with our well-documented (if still relatively fringe) love affairs with canning and pickling , charcuterie, " butcher parties " and artisan drink mixers . This time, according to the BBC, the latest trend is moonshine .

The reporter quotes an anonymous woman who makes moonshine in her kitchen-in Brooklyn , of course. Apparently moonshine has come a long way since days of yore. These days you can make corn liquor taste "as good as any apple martini you’ll find in New York. " (This makes the moonshine revival seem ripe for a Sex and the City angle; I await the story line when movie No. 3 inevitably emerges.) Women are apparently big into artisanal cheese-making , as well as making their own cake pops and kimchi empanadas, if this Times article on the Greenpoint Food Market is any gauge. More broadly, they're a major force driving changes in how we think about food -not just the big names but ordinary " Farmer Janes " as well.


Despite the potential appeal to Manhattan cocktailers, the real draw of moonshine at this moment in time may be its links to "the elemental rural libertarianism that shaped American politics." (Tea Party moonshine, anyone?) The big story in moonshine last year was the suicide of Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton, the 62-year-old wild-bearded Appalachian bootlegger and author of Me and My Likker . Sutton had been sentenced to 18 months after the feds busted him with more than 850 gallons of moonshine, and days before he was due to report to prison he asphyxiated himself with car exhaust . He had, his daughter has said, a " death-before-dishonor " mindset.

I find myself wondering what's next for this renaissance of edible authenticity. We human beings are notoriously bad at seeing around corners, but I would really like to see pruno given its due . If you can make liquor crafted from ketchup actually taste good, you are truly an artisan.

Libby Copeland is a writer in New York and a regular Slate contributor. She was previously a Washington Post reporter and editor for 11 years. She can be reached at



Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.