Thoughts from Innisfree on the Stillwater: Fanaticism

There’s something about the sustainable food movement in all its various incarnations that brings out the fanatic in people, both pro and con. I admit that I am just as bad as anyone.

Yet, there is an underlying problem with that fanaticism that undermines the whole attempt to improve the way we feed ourselves, and it finds its voice in purity tests voiced by some that demand things that are unrealistic or downright impossible.

Among the worst of these tests are calls for laws that threaten the livelihoods of the very kinds of people trying to make change happen. For example, there are those who want to pass laws that would require sustainable farmers and vegetable producers to get licensed before they could produce.

I understand the motives that drive such calls because I experience them first hand. I also know they only serve to threaten the very undertaking we’re all supposed to be working together to achieve by making it harder to do what we are doing.

Perhaps, instead of calling for laws, boycotts, and bans, if we see a problem, we should be working extra hard to solve it and let the chips fall where they may. All that effort spent trashing others could be used in a far more productive way, and in the end, that properly applied effort might just produce something better than what we already have.


Read more at my Thoughts from Innisfree on the Stillwater weblog...

What’s in a name?

Our farm experience is undergoing a lot of transitions right now. One of them is discovering that the name we’ve been using–in fact the name my in-laws have been using for decades–has been the registered trade name of another farm in Ohio since 2010. Needless to say, this created something of a moment of existential crisis for us, especially given all the other transitions we’re undergoing at the same time.

So, we’re kind of in limbo right now. We think we’ve found a new name–one that gives credit to the old while also not breaking the law–but we’re not going to tell anyone what it is until we’re sure. Then, it will be time to change a bunch of things in order to make it all legit.

But what’s in a name?


Web roundup

Want to know what I’m reading about agriculture, food, and sustainability? Well this periodic post is the place to find out:

  1. Kajabi on the old wise farmer
  2. Treehugger on exploding pig barns
  3. The New York times on the rise of the artisanal food producer
  4. Scientific American on the impracticality of the cheeseburger
  5. Foreign Policy Magazine on commodity induced food price inflation
  6. Popular Science on how feeding antibiotics to pigs is helping to create superbugs
  7. The Guardian on Monsanto being found guilty of poisoning by a French court
  8. Gene Logsdon at The Contrary Farmer on the need for secret crying places
  9. Wake Up World on bus roof gardens
  10. Treehugger on Seattle’s attempt to create the world’s first public food forest

You can also get these kind of links in real time by following me on Facebook or Twitter.


Gun laws punish those who abide by the law

It was almost impossible that the tragic attempted assassination of Representative Gabrielle Giffords would not spawn calls to regulate private access to firearms. After all, the shooter obtained his firearm legally under Arizona’s law and then used that firearm to murder 6 people and wound 18 more.

Gun control advocates will try to tell us that, if Jared Loughner had not been able to legally buy the firearm he used, the shootings would not have happened. Their argument follows that, if firearms laws were more strict and penalties more severe, tragedies like the one in Tuscon would not happen.

It is ironic, then, to look right across the southern border, just 60 miles from Tuscon. Mexico has some of the strictest gun laws in the world, yet is currently experiencing some of the worst gun violence in the world at the same time.

The facts are that criminals do not care how they get their guns, but they will get them if they want them. On the other hand, law-abiding citizens tend to follow the law, no matter how troublesome those laws may be, and are often left defenseless in the face of criminal acts as a result.

It is impossible to know whether or not stricter gun laws might have deterred Loughner, but it is easy to know whether stricter gun laws will reduce gun crime or crime in general. Laws to not force people to be more moral, and those who plan to commit crimes will find ways to do so regardless of the law.

Instead of focusing on the tool used by the criminal, why not focus on the criminals themselves? Jared Loughner showed signs that he was not stable long before the incident that will define the rest of his life. In most cases, people who commit these kinds of crimes leave long trails of warning signs that no one paid attention to. Why focus on the gun when we could focus on helping the individual instead?