There has been much uproar about the Multnomah County Health Department’s attempted shut-down of seven-year-old Julie Murphy’s lemonade stand during Last Thursday, last Thursday [as covered in yesterday's Good Morning News]. Everyone seems appropriately up in arms, and the Health Department has even apologized.

But as a food critic, I don’t think I’m remiss in saying the most important point in this story has been completely missed. The bigger outrage here can be summed up in two words (one of which is hyphenated for effect): Kool-Aid Lemonade.

I would like to offer little Miss Murphy my professional opinion, and a few suggestions, after the Jump!

As a budding entrepreneur, you should learn to better understand your market. This kool-aid crap might fly in Oregon City, but you were doing business on Alberta. Those hippies abhor corporate/branded anything. While I respect the business acumen of attempting to exploit the “cuteness” loophole in the Multnomah County health code, you just can’t be profitable by selling piss and calling it gold. Sure, it works for Kombucha but they’re a special case.

This is Portland, home of the uber-foodie. If you want to make a buck you’re going to have to put in the work. Your first step should have been to plant a lemon tree. I realize you would have had to do this when you were two, but Lee Iacoca sold his first Chrysler when he was still in the womb. What’s your excuse?

You should have also taken pains to have your lemons certified organic by the USDA. You should have squeezed them yourself. You should have sweetened it with agave. And you should have transported it to Alberta via bicycle.

It sounds like a lot of work. It is. That’s why you get your mom to do it for you, or just say you’ve done it. All that work, either real or imagined, provides your product with the all-important “story of origin,” which causes food writers like me to fall all over themselves trying to provide breathless and adoring coverage. I am breathless and adoring just thinking about what you could have accomplished.

Worried we food writers might find out your lemonade isn't really all that good? Don't. We're usually too drunk to notice these things, and besides: our palates are too blown out from eating boatloads of foie and pork-belly terrines to be of any real use. It's all about the story.

What do you get for that story? You get the privilege of mark-up. You see, selling swill at 50 cents a pop isn’t the worst idea. Many businesses have gone very far selling crap at rock bottom prices to hungry rubes. Have you ever heard of McDonald’s? But the people you really want to exploit are the people with money. Believe me when I tell you that you could have sold your organic farm-to-table, fresh-squeezed, agave-sweetened, bicycle transported lemonade for at least $1.75 per 8 fluid ounces. It’s in them liberal-white-guilt hills that the cash truly flows, my dear. When you add the cuteness factor to all that, then you can expect an addition to your Barbie Malibu dream home in no time (not to mention the car, and a drunken Ken who has five martini breakfasts because he feels worthless when he thinks about how successful you are).

Yes, you can call me a cynical bastard. Hell, you call a pig a pig don’t you? But surely I’m no more cynical than the jerks who tried to shut you down. And at least I’m being helpful.

You’re welcome.