Yesterday I attended a small meeting of folks interested in Rhode Island’s food system. They have established a Rhode Island Food Policy Council. They are sincere and want to improve local food production, access to affordable food, etc.
As I listened, I realized that many of them see their task as changing policies in the State to better serve the Council’s goals – improve zoning ordinances and comprehensive plans, instruction on how to register your business, keeping records, etc.
On its face, that is a reasonable task. As I listened, however, an anxiety grew. I squirmed in my seat. My hands started to shake a bit. I grew generally uncomfortable.
Then I heard someone express their belief that the problem with expanding farming in the State is that community comprehensive plans do not speak to agriculture…and his conclusion is…therefore you can’t farm.
At that point I became an anarchist!
The purpose of government is NOT to control the people.
The purpose of government, driven by the will and insight of the people, is to provide guidance and education. Yes there is a need to control certain harmful and irrational behaviors, but even that should be done in a caring manner!
Deciding to farm in a city is not harmful or irrational.
Deciding it is important to grow healthy food should be guided by the government… not controlled by the government.
The business of selling your healthy food should be guided by the government… not regulated.
A young urban farmer in Providence recently delivered a speech at the National Farmers Union where she professed that she found her sense of patriotism and love of country through urban farming.
Government of the people, by the people, for the people does not mean that government controls every act….it means love thy neighbor.
I would suggest that the Rhode Island Food Policy Council not aid or collaborate with any person or entity in the State whose purpose is not careful and loving.