Market Resilience


Courtesy of Joel Salatin

An outfit in Poland is translating my book EVERYTHING I WANT TO DO IS ILLEGAL into Polish.  Anyone who thinks food regulations are tyrannical in the U.S. needs to go to Europe and see the European Union (EU) laws.  It makes us look like the wild west.

The lady doing the translation and publishing asked me if I would do a short update for this project; the book is due out in about two weeks.  When I sent her a couple pages of new material, she responded with this:

The day after the Germans escaped from Warsaw, which had been reduced to rubble in 1944, after 5 years of the Nazi occupation and total ban (which was condemned to death penalty) on breeding and selling meat, one could easily buy fresh brisket, aged entrecote or fragrant veal at makeshift markets.

Isn’t that amazing?  First, realize that part of the Nazi system was regulating food and farming.  Realize that as the U.S. went down this path starting aggressively in 1908 with the socialist Teddy Roosevelt establishing the Food Safety and Inspection Service, this was consistent with the later Hitleresque model.  While the Germans took this to an extreme, the moment a society gives the federal government power to decide what can be grown, how it needs to be grown, and how it can be sold, the slippery slope to totalitarianism is established.

Now I’m hearing that mandatory Radio Frequency Identification tags are back in the new proposed farm bill.  I’m sure Judith McGeary of Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance will again lead the charge to dismember this mandate.  Stay tuned. Government regulations and the bureaucrats that enforce them are like an unquenchable fire:  it’s never enough.  The philosophy that justifies government marketplace intervention is the problem because it never stops at reasonableness.

The second interesting thing about this little bit of history is how fast the local market responded when the Nazis left.  If the U.S. had a Food Emancipation Proclamation, in days a tornado of local food options would descend on our communities.  The big supermarkets would be in a panic.  Big ag would be in crisis.  High quality artisanal food would drop in price by probably 30 percent and for the first time in more than a century, small would have a level playing field with big.

Over time, Poland got the EU, which virtually destroyed the cottage Polish sausage industry. All that food heritage gone overnight.  Over time, the U.S. destroyed its community food systems. We’re not very different.  This time, it’s not people from outside calling the shots; we’ve shot ourselves.  That’s why we’re hosting the next Rogue Food Conference at our farm May 17 & 18.  The slogan is “CIRCUMVENTION, NOT COMPLIANCE.”  If we’re going to preserve the ability as consenting adults to exercise choice in food, we need new models to get around the bureaucrats (food police).  Please come if you can.

If the U.S. had no food inspection, would you be afraid to eat?

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