Researching a novel is tremendous good fun. A lot of the time I have no idea where I’m going to end up. Today’s adventure led me, among other places, to this post on neighborhood secession by Matthew Mullenix.
It’s a quick read and not very in-depth, but has some sound ideas. Essentially that by focussing your consumption, trade and energy in your own neighborhood, you can largely opt-out of the system. And if a whole neighborhood does it, it can be a quiet sort of secession. I was particularly moved by his April 1st follow-up comment:
Who will regulate the safety of the food and our health? I think that’s an interesting question and prompts us to ask if regulation of food safety is the same thing as ensuring food safety? It also begs the question: From what does federal regulation protect us?
Today’s case of pastacio contamination, much like the recent peanut scare, offers an important role for federal regulation; but it only becomes so important because our food system is based on interstate commerce and the industrial-scale blending of basic ingredients (like nuts, or corn) into thousands of other food products that will be sold around the world.
Such a system entails tremendous risk, chief among them the fact that once a contaminant is found to have sickened one person, hundreds of thousands have been exposed. It is a huge corporate system that requires a huge layer of government oversight, both at odds against each other and neither capable of managing the inherent risks.
Compare this to a local food system, the smallest being the production line that extends from my garden to my kitchen. That supply chain is short and secure. The producer (me) and consumers (my family and friends) are a limited group who know each other well. We insure food quality by tending personally to its production and preparation, and we share whatever risks that entails. Worst case scenario (a soft tomato?) is that only a few will ever suffer from a system failure.
Thus, my garden is in the best interests of national security. Albeit, the nation that is our family.