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SUSTAINABILITY Why bureaucracy is strangling enterprise

Outdoor Living
1910_carrots_290

Untie our hands and we’ll meet our own needs


Growing your own
Chris Brown


Local trade is not what it should be. In today’s world, most transactions not only involve goods produced elsewhere but take place in a premises that sends the profits elsewhere as well. This does not bode well for the home economy that needs the profits (if any) to stay in the community.
Every purchase we make is important; each item we buy has its own tale to tell. Take prawns as an example. Now, they may have come from a local boat that has skillfully trapped this beautiful foodstuff in the clean seas off the Mayo coast, but this is unlikely. I believe they are almost certain to have originated from a pond of dirty water in an Asian field somewhere, having been fed a diet of pellets by a poorly paid worker and having never seen the sea. After harvest these prawns would be shipped by road and air and distributed via a mega handling facility into a global chain of stores where huge amounts of energy are used to keep perishable items from perishing by the use of low temperatures.
It’s clear that lots of energy is used when bringing products to people when there are thousands of miles between producer and consumer, and it’s also clear that we don’t have an unlimited source of energy to burn in this sort of fashion.
So why are we finding it so difficult to meet more of our own needs ourselves?
One of the main problems we face is the fact that to trade in goods or services has become more and more complicated, with even the simplest transaction bogged down with complex rules and conditions set by European policy makers.
Regulations now surround just about every aspect of trade. They usually travel under the guise of making things safe for us (for example, a duck egg needing a sell by date stamped on it, or it being against the law to sell vegetable seeds that haven’t been registered with some department or other…). We shouldn’t be fooled by the directives that claim to be safe-guarding us. The thing is, in my view, the authorities don’t like the thought of dealings going on that they can’t control and take something from, and now they have ended up earning themselves generous pay packets by overseeing those who actually produce or supply the goods or services.
In the urban surrounds of distant European cities – and cities do much to burn the world’s resources without producing too much of any real use – the sharp suits of bureaucracy hang out, making decisions that have long since gone out of tune with nature and her dwindling resources. It doesn’t matter how many languages they print there directives in, making lakes out of wine and mountains from butter is shameful in a hungry world.

Simpler solutions
Every effort should be made to encourage the things we need to be produced as close to our front door as possible, and to this end the customer has a large part to play. The only way to encourage the production of local supplies is for local people to buy them. Back your local grower!
A one-eyed man on a galloping horse can see that you can’t continue producing if nobody purchases what you produce. What we should be doing is asking where things come from and give preferences to things that originate from Mayo.
It would certainly be helpful if people were allowed to set up small-scale production from home without having to jump through the manner of hoops currently being requested by the authorities. This would encourage, rather than discourage, new enterprise in these trying times. An illustration of what can be achieved is on show every week in the excellent Country Markets held through out the county. We should do our utmost to support them.

Next time Fattening turkeys

Chris Brown runs Brown’s Farm, a small farm in Louisburgh. He is an advocate of sustainable, natural farming methods and buying local.