Tag Archives: Agriculture

Soil, Not Gold, Is The Best Investment

earthworm in the hand
Hans / Pixabay

Robert Rodale was a pioneer in the fields of organic gardening and local food production, as well as a giant in the publishing world. His words often ring more true today than when he wrote them, which is a gift in itself. I have reproduced some excerpts here from a small volume in my collection, which hold even more power given the fact that they were written in 1981. It provides another insight into the current discussions of the merits of gold as an investment, compared with the ability of an individual or family to provide food for one’s survival in the face of bad times.

For many, those bad times have visited their neighborhoods already, so they definitely hit a little too close to home.

For example:

“…we are heading into a soil and food crunch. I am convinced that the days of surplus farm and food production are almost over. My guess is that you haven’t heard or read about that possibility anywhere yet, except right here in these pages. But it is bound to happen…”

“The disruption of normal social and economic activities caused by a worldwide food shortage would probably increase the attractiveness of both gold and soil as investments. But I feel that if you compare the relative merits of each, soil is clearly the winner. And because of the shortage of food that is likely to occur within this decade, soil will soon replace gold as the most talked about and symbolic thing of enduring value.

This is going to happen because people have always put a higher value on things that are rare. Gold has always been rare, and will remain so, even though more is being mined all the time. But soil has never before been at short supply on a worldwide basis. Erosion and encroachment of deserts have ruined the soil of large regions, and their have been famines caused by bad weather. But never have people had to contend with the thought that, on a global basis, there isn’t enough soil to go around. Within a few years that will change. Soil will, for the first time, become rare. And worldwide television and news reports quoting crop production statistics and high food prices will carry that news everywhere.

A new symbolism of soil will develop. Until now, soil has symbolized dirt in the minds of many, especially city people who have little or no feel for the tremendous productive capacity of good soil. I think we are going to see that attitude change rapidly. Access to good earth will become the greatest of all forms of protection against inflation and a much stronger security blanket than it is now…”

“When you spend gold, it is gone. Soil properly cared for, is permanent…”

“I want to make one final point. Suppose you do have a hoard of small gold coins at home, and a food shortage develops here in the U.S. Hopefully, the cause will not be war, and it may not even be an absence of food in central storehouses. The shortage could be caused by transportation breakdowns, most likely a lack of fuel to carry food from farms to processing plants to supermarkets.

Where would you take your gold coin to buy food? In postwar Italy, as in this country several decades ago, small diversified farms could be found near all towns and cities. There were even truck farms within the city limits of New York. All are gone now. Many americans would have to walk or ride their bicycles for hours to get to a farm, and then likely would find an agribusiness operation with bins of one or two commodities on hand. Spending your coin would present a real challenge.

So the best fall back possession is not gold, but a large garden and a pantry of home-produced food.”

From the introduction by Robert Rodale, in the book titled “Fresh Food, Dirt Cheap (All Year Long!) by The Editors of Gardening Magazine.

“I wish to have an intimate relationship with earthworms, and soil”.  – Michael Patrick McCarty

 

earthworm castings
Hans / Pixabay

 

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Falling Leaves From The Natural Disaster Area

Leaves fall rapidly from our backyard cottonwood trees as I write this, flickering and steadily streaming towards the dead, brown grass. It makes me wonder just what else may be in store for this infamous year of 2012.

I have searched my memory banks as thoroughly as I can, and I just can’t remember seeing leaves in free fall this early in the year. Even in Colorado the autumn season is normally some time away, so that can’t be it. So why then, have the leaves begun to turn yellow and die?

It is the drought of course, as if I needed a reminder. The thermometer on the back of my house reads a hellish 97.7 degrees at 3:30 P.M on another cloudless summer day. The sun is unbearably intense at our mile high elevation, and I don’t think I could even bear to scan the humidity reading. It would be a great afternoon to be a lizard.

It’s difficult to do much of anything outside. Just ask my dogs, who can seem to do little else but pant away in the shade, or our rabbits, who have seemed to have gone to ground. Or ask my wife, who constantly reminds me that I am not putting enough water on her pampered peonies.

Early leaf fall is a sign of biological stress, and of that there can be no doubt. Cottonwoods need a lot of water, and of that there is none. They began to yellow and die in scattered patches some weeks ago, and by now they have used or are using up all of the remaining water in their canopies to survive these toughest of all times. It would appear that the leaves have done the best they could for the tree in this trying year, and they simply have nothing left to give.

I know a little about the magnitude of this drought from what I read in the news reports. I know that almost all of the counties in Colorado have been designated as agricultural disaster areas. I know that the chair from which I write this is sitting squarely in the 25% of the country or thereabouts that is experiencing severe to exceptional drought conditions. I know that this drought may be a once and a lifetime event for many of us, or so we can hope.

Still, I cannot seem to come to grips with the sight of falling leaves in early august. The calendar seems to be askew, as if I’ve misplaced a month or two. My mind races as it strips a gear, and I don’t know if I can put Humpty Dumpty back together again anytime soon. I am stressed, and I can feel that I am not alone. It’s everywhere, in everyone and everything, and all around.

Global warming, I don’t know? 2012, we shall see? Some folks postulate that it could be all part of a natural cycle, as if humans have been around long enough to offer an opinion. Or is it something…more?

I do know that my heart goes out to all the farmers and farm family’s affected by this terrible drought. I feel for the bears who will have such a desperate time finding food and fat to sustain them through the inevitable winter. I wonder how our once bountiful fruit trees will fare until next spring, and if many of the trees will just give it all up for good. I hope that our drinking well will survive the trials, and somehow replenish itself with non-existent waters. I have many wonders, and worries, as no doubt do you.

Most of all I wonder of the earth, and hope that our modern technological hubris has not damaged her elegant and life-sustaining systems beyond repair. I hope that in the end, she has not given up upon us all.

 

 

 

The Time For Direct, Unregulated Farm Sales is Now!

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Reclaiming Our Traditional Foodways

For the majority of this country’s history, unregulated farmer-to-consumer direct commerce was the norm in most of the United States. Consumers could even purchase meat, a food heavily regulated today, from farmers that were not inspected by the government.1It was only in the 20th century that farmers became ensnared in a regulatory system created due to problems that were not of their own making. This development, along with other factors, caused the decline of the family farm and community self-sufficiency in food production. In recent years there has been a move mainly at the state level towards restoring the tradition of unregulated sales direct from farms and home kitchens to the consumer; the trend is continuing in 2017 with bills filed in several state legislatures allowing for unregulated direct sales.

Bills have been introduced in Virginia and North Dakota so far this legislative session to allow the unregulated sale of nearly all foods produced by farms and home kitchens direct to the consumer; similar legislation will be introduced shortly in other states, as well. Under these bills the only foods that would still require regulation would be meat and food products with meat ingredients due to restrictions placed on those products by the Federal Meat Inspection Act.

Wyoming has been the trailblazer for this type of legislation with the passage of the 2015 Food Freedom Act. Reports are that the act has been a great success with significant increases in the number of farmers markets in the state along with more consumers purchasing locally produced food direct from the source. If there is any evidence of illness caused by the consumption of food produced by an unregulated farm, ranch, or home kitchen, neither the Wyoming Department of Health or county departments of health have provided it. The record in Wyoming and elsewhere is that unregulated locally produced food generally has an excellent track record for food safety. There is a transparency and traceability with local food that the industrial food system can’t match.

The Wyoming success has spurred state legislators elsewhere to become interested in pursuing similar legislation. Unregulated local producer direct-to-consumer sales are no longer a radical idea but rather a way to make more quality food available, build community, and connect to our past agricultural heritage where the government left these kind of transactions alone.

These heritage food bills, restoring an American tradition, are a needed counterweight to federal attempts to increase control over intrastate food commerce through laws such as the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, laws that consolidate market share in the industrial food system and reduce consumer food choice. With the promise of deregulation from the new administration, now is the time to move forward reestablishing the rights Americans once had to obtain the foods of our choice from the source of our choice whether or not that source is regulated.

This website will post updates on any progress made in state food freedom legislation.

Footnotes

1 David Berg. Journal of Food Law & Policy. “Food Choice is a Fundamental Liberty Right.” 2013; 9: 173,190.

See the Original Article from Farm to Consumer Legal defense Fund Here.

Posted by Michael Patrick McCarty

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The Greatest Loves In The World

A Special Guest

 

“There are four great loves in the world: the love between a man and a woman; the love between parents and their children; the love of one’s fellow man; and the love of people for the earth. The human race would perish if men lost these simple things from their hearts.”

From Turkey Hill Plantation by Jeremiah Milbank and Grace Fox Perry.

Click Here For Some History of The Plantation.

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Michael Patrick McCarty

The Wild Garden

The Monarchs of Spring

 

“Nature ——wild Nature——dwells in gardens just as she dwells in the tangled woods, in the deeps of the sea, and on the heights of the mountains; and the wilder the garden, the more you will see of her there. If you would see here unspoiled and in many forms, let your garden be a wild place, a place of trees and shrubs and vines and grass, even a place where weeds are granted a certain tolerance; for gardens which are merely pick and span plots of combed and curried flower-beds have little attraction for the birds or for the other people of the wild. Yet, into any garden, no matter how artificial or how tame, some wild things will find their way. It is a shallow boast, this talk we hear about man’s conquest of nature. It will be time to talk in that fashion when man has learned to check or control the march of the seasons or when he has brought some spot of earth so thoroughly under his dominion that it remains insensible to the impulse of the spring. He has not done that yet, and he never will. Spring in a garden is as irresistible, as incredible, as a spring in the heart  of the wilderness”.

From Adventures In Green Places by Herbert Ravenel Sass

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Michael Patrick McCarty