A troublesome bill has recently passed through the Senate and it could mean the end of legal home farming the way I love and remember it. Gone could be the herbs growing on window sills and the police may be breaking down garage doors to find small plots of tomatoes growing. How could such a thing come to be?
It wasn’t too long ago that the United States government was encouraging people to farm at home — Victory Gardens, they were called.
Magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post and Life printed stories about victory gardens, and women’s magazines gave instructions on how to grow and preserve garden produce. Families were encouraged to can their own vegetables to save commercial canned goods for the troops. In 1943, families bought 315,000 pressure cookers (used in the process of canning), compared to 66,000 in 1942. The government and businesses urged people to make gardening a family and community effort.
The result of victory gardening? The US Department of Agriculture estimates that more than 20 million victory gardens were planted. Fruit and vegetables harvested in these home and community plots was estimated to be 9-10 million tons, an amount equal to all commercial production of fresh vegetables. So, the program made a difference.
What a change from the current bill, allegedly being passed to protect us, but really pushing us further into the gnarly grasp of mammoth corporations such as Monsanto.
Monsanto says it has no interest in the bill and would not benefit from it, but Monsanto’s Michael Taylor who gave us rBGH and unregulated genetically modified (GM) organisms, appears to have designed it and is waiting as an appointed Food Czar to the FDA (a position unapproved by Congress) to administer the agency it would create — without judicial review — if it passes. S 510 would give Monsanto unlimited power over all US seed, food supplements, food and farming.
What could the ramifications of this bill be?
When the food safety bill was introduced in the House last year, there was an uproar from small farm and local food production advocates who lashed out at the unnecessarily broad language of the bill. In essence, organic farming would have been criminalized and even home pantries would have been subject to government raids if said homes didn’t obtain a state permit to store food.
When my family lived in West Windsor, my grandmother grew peppermint and other herbs and she would gather them and make different herbal infusions that we would drink. Imagine the outrage she would feel if we would have had to tell her that the government was prohibiting her from growing her peppermint without a state permit.