Michael Patrick McCarty earned a B.S. Degree in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University. He has worked in a variety of capacities relating to fisheries and wildlife biology, water and environmental quality, and outdoor recreation. A lifelong shooter, bowhunter and outdoorsman, he has hunted and fished throughout North America. A used and rare book dealer for more than 25 years, he offers a catalog of fine titles in the fields of natural history, angling, the shooting sports, farming, and agriculture. “I have a passion for old books, slow food, pigeons, the pursuit of bugling elk, fish and game cookery, heritage poultry breeds, personal freedom, and the Rocky Mountains, to name just a few, and not necessarily in that order. I consider the White River National Forest of Western Colorado as part of my backyard”. Mike writes about an assortment of outdoor and food related topics. “I am particularly interested in the nexus between the desire to provide one’s own food, and the withering array of local, state, and federal laws and regulations which often stand in the way. It is the manner in which they all relate to the cornerstone issues of personal freedom and liberty that concerns me. For me, it’s where the rubber meets the road”.
Even though many of us process our own goods for long-term food storage, we also supplement our pantries with canned foods from stores.
Sometimes it can be cheaper, especially when there’s a sale. Sometimes we supplement with items from stores that we don’t know how to can (or can’t safely can at home). And sometimes it’s items that are hard to come by or aren’t grown locally. As well, store bought canned goods have a longer shelf-life than our home-canned goodies, so there’s definitely a place for them in our stockpiles
Whatever the reason, there are certain things we need to remember and keep an eye on for safety reasons.
It’s like something out of The Onion: city manager shuts down preschool farm stand out of fear that, if allowed, “we could end up with one on every corner.”
Farm Stand Shut Down
Alas, this is not satire. It’s the current predicament facing the Little Ones Learning Center in Forest Park, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta. In an area where access to fresh fruits and vegetables can be limited, this preschool has stepped up to prioritize growing and selling fresh produce from its school gardens. According to recent reporting in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Little Ones has often sold its produce with generous discounts to local food stamp recipients and other neighbors and has been acknowledged as a leader in the farm-to-school healthy food movement.
That is, until the city shut down the bi-monthly farm stand program last month for zoning violations. Despite protests from community members, city officials are holding firm to their stance that allowing one farm stand could lead to an unruly proliferation of fresh produce.
“Anywhere you live, you’ve got to have rules and regulations,” Forest Park City Manager Angela Redding said. “Otherwise, you would just have whatever,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitutionreported.
That “whatever” is exactly the hope and promise that irks central planners. Whatever symbolizes what is possible when individuals and organizations spontaneously create new streams of value for their neighbors. Whatever are opportunities for mutual gain through voluntary exchange. Whatever are new inventions, new services, and new ways of living and being that augment our existence and improve our future. Whatever is freedom.
Central Planners Are Threatened by Freedom
Freedom is the threat. Central planners are uneasy with spontaneous order, or the decentralized, peaceful process of human action that occurs when individuals follow their diverse interests in an open marketplace of trade. A preschool finds it beneficial for their students, parents, employees, and neighbors when they emphasize immersive gardening, sustainably-grown produce, and farm stand commerce. Students enjoy it, parents value the experience for their children, teachers choose to work in this farm-focused environment, and neighbors are willing to pay for the garden bounty from a twice-per-month farm stand. It is a beautiful example of the beneficial gains achieved through free markets.
That is, until the city’s central planners intervened out of fears that allowing one neighborhood farm stand to operate could lead to many, un-zoned farm stands. This is particularly poignant given that this preschool is located in one of the most disadvantaged counties in Atlanta. Little Ones preschool director Wande Okunoren-Meadows toldMother Nature Network: “According to the United Way, Clayton County has the lowest child well-being index out of all the metro Atlanta counties…So if we’re trying to move the needle and figure out ways to improve well-being, I’m not saying the farm stand is the only way to do it, but Little Ones is trying to be part of the solution.”
Zoning is often considered to be a protection mechanism, ensuring that neighborhoods remain orderly and livable. Yet, zoning laws in this country have a long history of racist tendencies. Granting power to government officials to control housing, commerce, and neighborhood development has previously led to unfair practices and unfavorable results. Decentralizing that power by eliminating questionable zoning practices can ensure that power is more justly distributed among the individual citizens of a particular community.
In the case of the Little Ones preschool, power would shift from city planners to local neighbors and businesses.The city has offered Little Ones an opportunity to hold their farm stand in another part of town, but it is far away from the preschool and its neighborhood. City officials also said that Little Ones could pay $50 for a “special event” permit for each day it hosts its farm stand—a fee that is prohibitively expensive for the school and its small produce stand. For now, the school is selling its fruits and vegetables inside the building, but the indoor location is leading to far fewer sales as passersby don’t realize it’s there. The Little Ones parent and educator community is hoping that the city rules can be changed to allow for occasional outdoor farm stands.
Cases like Little Ones preschool expose the deleterious effects of zoning regulations. “It’s like shutting down a kid’s lemonade stand,” Okunoren-Meadows says. “Nobody does this. It just shouldn’t happen,” the preschool director toldMother Nature Network.
Sadly, children’s lemonade stands are also routinely shut down for similar reasons, often with the same outrage.We should be outraged when young entrepreneurs are prohibited from producing and selling something of value to their neighbors due to restrictive regulations that centralize power and weaken neighborhood dynamism. Some states, like Utah, are passing laws to protect young entrepreneurs from these zoning and licensing challenges. The key is to look beyond preschool farm stands and advocate for more freedom for all.
Kerry McDonald is a Senior Education Fellow at FEE and author of Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom (Chicago Review Press, 2019). She is also a regular Forbes contributor. Kerry has a B.A. in economics from Bowdoin College and an M.Ed. in education policy from Harvard University. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her husband and four children. You can sign up for her weekly newsletter on parenting and education here.
All around us, our world is literally in a state of collapse, but most people don’t seem to care. I spend much of my time writing about the inevitable collapse of our economic and financial systems, but they are only one part of the story. These days, millions upon millions of us are spending countless hours in this “virtual world” that we have created, and that is preventing many of us from understanding what is really going on in “the real world”. Where I live, I can literally keep the doors wide open for hours without worrying about bugs coming in, because insect populations are disappearing at a pace that is frightening. They are calling it “the insect apocalypse”, and some scientists are warning that they could all be gone in 100 years. And this dramatic decline in the insect population is one of the main reasons why North America’s bird population is collapsing. In the old days, I remember the singing of birds often greeting me in the morning, but these days I am never awakened by birds. That might make sense if I lived right in the middle of a major city, but I don’t. I live in a very rural location, and I do see birds out here, but not nearly as many as I would expect.
On second thought, I don’t know if the term “collapse” is strong enough to describe what we are facing.
In 1970, there were about 10 billion birds in North America.
Now, there are about 7 billion.
When are we finally going to admit that we have a major crisis on our hands?
Hopefully it will be before the count gets to zero.
“We saw this tremendous net loss across the entire bird community,” says Ken Rosenberg, an applied conservation scientist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, N.Y. “By our estimates, it’s a 30% loss in the total number of breeding birds.”
Could humanity survive without birds?
Probably, but this is yet another sign that the planetary food chain is in the process of totally breaking down. Despite all of our advanced technology, we are not going to survive without an environment that supports life, and at this moment that environment is being destroyed at a staggering pace.
According to the lead author of the study, the evidence they compiled “showed pervasive losses among common birds across all habitats, including backyard birds”…
“Multiple, independent lines of evidence show a massive reduction in the abundance of birds,” said study lead author Ken Rosenberg, a senior scientist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and American Bird Conservancy, in a statement. “We expected to see continuing declines of threatened species. But for the first time, the results also showed pervasive losses among common birds across all habitats, including backyard birds.”
I like having birds in my backyard. In fact, I wish that I had a whole lot more.
Two of the largest factors being blamed for this stunning decline are “toxic pesticides” and “insect decline”. We have already talked about the “insect apocalypse” which is raging all around us, but I should say a few words about pesticides. Yes, they may help to protect our crops and our lawns, but in the process we are literally poisoning everything.
These days it seems like just about everyone knows at least one person with cancer. If you are one of those rare people that doesn’t know a single person with cancer, please leave a comment below, because I would love to hear your story. It has been estimated that one out of every three women and one out of every two men will get cancer in their lifetimes, but considering the rate that we are currently polluting our environment those estimates may be too conservative.
Without a doubt, several of the big pesticide companies are some of the most evil corporations on the entire planet, and yet most Americans don’t really seem to care about the death and destruction that they have unleashed all around us.
As with so many other things, this is yet another example that shows that we have no future on the path that we are currently on, and the clock is ticking.
Don’t you want a world in which the birds sing to you in the morning? Pete Marra, one of the scientists involved in the study, told the press that a number of bird species “that were very common when I was a kid” are among those being hit the hardest…
“We can all talk through the stories about there being fewer and fewer birds, but it’s not until you really put the numbers on it that you can really grasp the magnitude of these results,” Marra said. “We’re now seeing common species that have declined, things like red-winged blackbirds and grackles and meadowlarks — species that I grew up with, that were very common when I was a kid. That is the most surprising and most disturbing part.”
Everywhere around us, we can see decay, decline or collapse. This stunning drop in the bird population is just one more example.
But just like with so many other issues, most people don’t really care, and most people certainly don’t want to change.
So in the end we will reap what we have sown, and it will not be pleasant.
Missouri may have just made the most monumental step towards freedom and individual liberty since the signing of the Bill of Rights. In an upcoming vote by Missouri’s state senate, the state is expected to pass a bill that would nullify ALL Federal gun laws and regulations, and make enforcement of those laws by federal officers within the State of Missouri a criminal offense. Republicans control both U.S. Senate seats and more than two-thirds of the seats in both the Missouri House and Senate.
I don’t mean the kind you’re talking about when your friends invite you to go shopping or for a night out and you say, “No, I can’t. I’m poor right now.”
I don’t mean the situation when you’d like to get a nicer car but decide you should just stick to the one you have because you don’t have a few thousand for a down payment.
I don’t mean the scene at the grocery store when you decide to get ground beef instead of steak.
I’m talking about when you have already done the weird mismatched meals from your pantry that are made up of cooked rice, stale crackers, and a can of peaches, and you’ve moved on to wondering what on earth you’re going to feed your kids.
Or when you get an eviction notice for non-payment of rent, a shut-off notice for your utilities, and a repo notice for your car and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about any of those notices because there IS NO MONEY.
If you’ve never been this level of broke, I’m very glad.
I have been this broke. I know that it is soul-destroying when no matter how hard you work, how many part-time jobs you squeeze in, and how much you cut, you simply don’t make enough money to survive in the world today. Being part of the working poor is incredibly frustrating and discouraging…