There truly are no dumb questions, but there are some that make me roll my eyes. The Amish Cook column was conceived and created by Yours Truly over 20 years ago. Lovina - and her mother before her - do the writing and are understandably and deservedly the "stars." But there is a LOT of work that goes into getting this column to you each week, maintaining the website, keeping the cookbooks going, etc. Some people occasionally ask me "why Lovina isn't online?" (cue the roll my eyes). Well, if she was online she wouldn't be staying true to her religion and culture, she'd be losing the Amish essence. Think of me as the one who preserves the column's authenticity. Yes, understandably you'd probably rather see Lovina in YouTube videos or on your morning news preparing a pie, but if you did she would be going against the church teachings and would lose the very authenticity that makes the column so special. So that's why you're stuck with me:)
Back in 1991 I was still a relative rarity. The internet didn't exist and most Amish businesses did their retailing one-on-one. But the internet and a rapidly changing consumer culture has added pressure on the Amish to compete. Erik Wesner wrote a great book, Success Made Simple, about Amish businesses that describes some of this changing business environment and how the Amish have adapted. In 2012 there are Amish cabinet makers, furniture makers, food retailers, etc that need to compete in the marketplace, but they themselves can't often partake in the technological tools to make that possible for the same reason Lovina can't. So they'll work with outsiders to make it happen. Miller's Bakery and Furniture in Adams County, Ohio works with a non-Amish PR consultant so that they can have a presence on the web. Pretty cool!
What got me started on this topic today? There's an interesting interview with an Amish entrepreneur (and, yes, he has a website) which ran on The Huffington Post the other day (that in itself is interesting). Check out this fun one-on-one with Johnny Miller. Full Disclosure: The article about Johnny Miller was written by my brother, Geoff Williams.