First, I’m indebted to Franklin Sanders for the title of this piece. Several years ago he mentioned this phrase that has stuck with me. In fact, it did more than stick with me, it verbalized in two simple words a good portion of what Vaughnshire is; at least in this generation.
Beth has posted many articles on couponing and shopping wisely in our current economy. At the same time we are also gardening, raising our own beef and chicken, and milking our own cow. These in a nut shell are the two economies we live in. On the one side, we are exploiting the folly of the industrial model by leveraging their own marketing strategies and on the other we are working to become self sufficient and community interdependent by producing our own food and trading with other likeminded families.
Currently in America, both options are at least marginally legal. As the corporate practices continue to put people’s health at risk for the sake of profits, there will continue to be broad sweeping laws. These new laws will continue to place an undue burden upon small family farmers and communities that wish to engage in a free trade and barter economy.
If we look back at Russia in the last century, we see a legally sanctioned economic system operating in parallel with what came to be known as the black market. When the official economy could not provide the basic necessities of life, people turned to the black market. Many economists and government pundits will try to blame the rise of black markets on people not wanting to pay taxes. I would claim the rise of the black market within a sanctioned economic system is a sign of that system’s failures.
Today in America we have a legally sanctioned economy with an appearance of a free market. However, the truth of the matter is there are far more government regulations imposed upon the economy than most realize. Most regulations serve to protect the economy under the pretence of protecting the people. (A point I will endeavor to prove in a future post.)
The fact of the matter is we just want to live on our land, raise our children, and enjoy the fruits of our labor as a Christian family. When we raise our own beef, we don’t use the government “recommended” chemicals and drugs. It is not because we are being antagonistic to the government or disrespectful to big industry experts. It is simply that we have studied the issue and found these practices are not needed on a small farm and some of these practices can actually be hazardous to our health. At the same time, if there are going to be a thousand cows in a small building they are going to need certain drugs just to stay alive. These are dangers we simply don’t face on a family farm.
No one would really have a problem with us raising our own beef, for the most part. But the trouble comes with the “enjoy the fruits of our labor” part of the statement. Once we have produced something, we should be able to benefit from it. For instance, if we have friends on another farm who use the same organic type practices in producing raw milk we should be able to trade something we produced for something they produced. We are exchanging or enjoying the fruit of our labor. But, if we offer a side of beef to these friends in exchange for a few months of milk, all of a sudden we are at risk of breaking laws and operating in a black market economy. But yet, this is the very essence of Christian community; to be able to serve one another and provide for the needs of one another.
Many believe by engaging in this kind of free market community focused exchange we are hurting the sanctioned economic model. The assumption is that if we did not buy good healthy beef or milk from our neighbor, then we would be buying the hormone fed simulated beef from the corporate farms. The fact of the matter is, we would go without, before we would consume most corporate animal products.
There are some areas where we are unable (or unwilling at this point) to go without some items from the corporate economy. For these items we take advantage of the competition between the different corporations or we buy second hand. There is indeed a science to the marketing and advertising these corporations do. As such many moms are figuring out an inside track to this and are saving thousands of dollars a year by exercising a little discipline in their shopping habits.
The down side of this is as the economy becomes more depressed the government will be under more pressure to do something about it. Historically one of the first things governments have done in this situation is go after those people not participating in the economy. I predict there will be more and more high handed investigations into the small family farms. At the same time the corporate farming practices will continue to come home to roost and this trend will push more people to seek safer food options for their family. This will further strain the corporate economy and the governmental oversight of the food industry. We will see more organizations like the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund.
That might all sound a little depressing and I confess in some regards it is a bleak outlook for America. But there is an upside as well. If we begin to develop community focused food options either locally or regionally, we will be far more secure from outside economic interruptions. Not only will we be more independent, we will be eating much healthier if we know where our food comes from and the practices used to raise it.
Of course this is only dealing with the food industry. What about housing, transportation, Medical services, clothing, or education? There are a lot of challenges facing families in the coming generations. By God’s grace we will discuss more of these soon.