Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Food Politics and Homesteading

This would be a post probably best written by the lady of the house, but she is unfortunately sicker than I am so here we go.

One of the things that has been coming up somewhat regularly in this blog is food politics in one form and another, and I wanted to talk about why food politics matters on a homesteading blog. The big obvious answer is, homesteading is about food. There is more to it than that of course, but at the base it is true. Homesteading is about food, and because of that food politics is relevant to homesteading and this blog. In fact, in the USA at least, and I suspect in any nominally democratic country, by homesteading you are involved in food politics.

But Wait! I'm Not Even Voting!
By growing and eating your own food you are involved in the politics of food because you have to be. If you aren't at least aware of the laws around food where you are you can get in trouble for homesteading, and things can change to impact you in ways most of your neighbors won't notice. If you aren't voting, when you start homesteading you should start doing so and paying attention to your state and town ordinances that are coming up for vote.

There are many food related laws on the books about zoning, butchering, and preparation. Even if when you start raising chickens in your back yard it's fine, if you don't pay attention it quickly can become illegal. In cities and less rural areas raising chickens often becomes illegal due to public nuisance laws. This is especially true in neighborhoods where there are mixed ethnicities.

In the USA immigrants are more likely to do basic homesteading than Americans because they come from places where most people still do some kind of food growing. In close set neighborhoods, when this involves chickens or goats it can quickly become a point of contention. One of the things the lady of the house pointed out was that when white people homestead it is praised as going back to the land, when immigrants homestead the reaction is "Get those filthy [insert slur of choice] out of My back yard. We're not some third world country." Mind you, this isn't to say if you're white and get chickens your neighbors won't be annoyed and want to get rid of them.

While you can influence your neighbors positively by talking to them before hand, and bribing them with delicious eggs or fresh meat, your neighbors aren't the only people who may have ideas of what is ok to do. Unfortunately you have to keep constant attention on what is going on, and what is coming up and as has always been true with democracy, be willing to stand up and say something and organize to keep your rights to grow your own food.

On A Bigger Level
Even at the national level homesteaders should be paying attention, especially now. As agricultural megacorps lobby to protect their profits one of the targets they have set is sustainable growing practices. Right now in many places it is illegal to save seeds because you might have saved seeds from a copyrighted plant. In some states there have even been moves to not allow people to grow their own food as it takes profits away from corporations.

In The End
Many homesteaders were interested in food politics before getting involved in homesteading, and went that way due to their interest in food politics. There however are many who weren't. Both those who were and those who weren't should focus on food politics as much as their own growing season to keep the ability to grow their own food. The lady of the house and I are in an area that is unlikely to enact local ordinances that will affect us, but we are keeping a weather eye on state and national food and water rights bills. Because of that food politics basics and specific focused posts will keep showing up here semi regularly.

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