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Thursday, April 04, 2013

Do We Need a State Microbe?

No one doubts that Wisconsin is America's Dairyland (except in Tillamook County), nor that Georgia is for peaches in much the way Idaho is for russets and Maine for lobsters.  But will Oregon be known for microbes if state representative Mark Johnson has his way?
Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a Latin mouthful commonly known as brewer's yeast, could become the official state microbe, joining the ranks of the beaver, western meadowlark and the thunderegg as an official state symbol. Rep. Mark Johnson, R-Hood River, brought the idea to the Legislature as a way to celebrate the state's microbrew movement. His district is home to some of the state's most popular breweries.
(Incidentally, I'd like to point out that it's April 4, not 1.  This is not a fake.)  Someone should probably have pointed out that the microbe does triple duty; it ferments wine as well and is also the organism that gives bread dough a rise.  Come on, Representative Johnson, get your blocs together! 

The real questions are these: 1) do state symbols really do anything, and 2) is this really more pressing than higher ed funding and PERS reform?  As to the first question, I suppose a small number of state symbols do benefit homegrown industry: probably hazelnuts and cranberries get a boost by local boosterism.  It is difficult to imagine that a creature no one can see with their naked eye (except in the collective) and a name no one can pronounce could be of much use.  Wyeast Labs would probably be pretty psyched, though.  (Take that, Chris White!)  As to the second: no. 

Ah, it's a slow beer news Thursday, isn't it?


  1. Well yes, but not an unworthy example to note of local trade advancement, valid unto itself and a part of local economies as you noted. I would suggest to the good legislator, if not too late, to substitute the Cascade hop for the yeast given its close association with Oregon and its hop fields yet wide usage in modern craft brewing. His heart in the right place but he'd hit the mark more closely IMO by selecting this classic hop of the American Pale Ale style.


  2. New York has a State muffin. It's the apple muffin. Just sayin'.

  3. 1) It depends how they are used:

  4. This is an embarrassing waste of time and money. I love Oregon beer, this state microbe thing is beyond belief. I am ashamed of our legislature for spending time on this.