Sunday, August 22, 2010

Harvest time! But bad legislation may outlaw your garden next year...

Apples and grapes
I've been quite busy in the last few weeks.  Hours slaving over a hot stove, etc. Fortunately the beastly heat wave finally broke so it was somewhat bearable in the kitchen.  So please pardon my non-writing lately.

I made 10 quarts of applesauce from apples from the tree growing in the back yard of the abandoned house next door, made 2 quarts of pickles from cucumbers someone was handing out from the back of a truck for free one day, started a batch of cider (not from my apples but from store bought juice), made a large pot of chicken soup from the donated carcasses of 2 small chickens, and harvested my beets, so I made beet greens earlier this week and I'm making borscht in the crock pot tonight.  My grapes, I just ate. Yum.

Beets (sideways!)
 It might be argued that the labor involved in processing my own food and the cost of the jars makes this more expensive than supermarket food.  Also, what on earth am I going to do with 10 quarts of applesauce? (it gets worse, I'm not done harvesting on that tree, I only got the low hanging fruit so far).  Well, the jars are a capital expense.  I'll be able to re-use them, only having to buy jar tops next time.  I also enjoy the fact that this is organically grown food, and I know exactly where it came from, and the "food miles" are maybe like 20 feet at most.  I might be able to trade applesauce for other food with my other gardening friends, or maybe I will have to learn to use it in recipes.  At any rate, I bet I could eat a quart a month easy and still not feel like I was on a constant diet of applesauce.

Speaking of gardens, I'm wondering if any of my dear readers have heard of the new House Bill HR 875, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009?  I have heard alarms and grumblings from organic gardeners that think this bill (which was submitted by the wife of a Monsanto exec) will outlaw backyard gardening and possibly put an end to farmers markets.  Here is a link to the bill.  I have read it.  There isn't anything specifically about organic or backyard gardening, but I think the problem with the bill is that the term "farm" is not defined in the bill.  This would open it up to any kind of interpretation.  The other thing is, even if they're not trying to outlaw our vegie gardens, it is possible that it would put an undue burden on small farmers, essentially running them out of business.  Also, consider the source of the bill...  http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h111-875

There is also a Senate bill, S.510. http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s111-510.  I have not yet read this bill, but I think it's getting the same amount of alarm and grumblings from the same crowd.  So that's my reading project for the next week.

Please weigh in and leave comments about these bills.  As for me, if they outlaw backyard gardens, I'll gladly become an outlaw.  In the meantime, perhaps it's time to buy some seeds, in case they make it impossible to get them next year.

2 comments:

Michael said...

Farm is defined under US Code and facility as it pertains to this bill is defined by the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act.

There are a lot of grumblings.. but organic farmers and small farmers support the bill.

It seems to just be a matter of a few folks not realizing that there is language up and down the bill which protects small businesses and organics.

Penny Pincher said...

Thanks, could you give an example in one spot in the bill of the language that protects the organics and small guys?