Criminal Gardening -- Grow too much food, and you'll be fined | 01/28/11

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Although the incident below has more to do with officious local zoning fascists than the Federal government, it is nevertheless a glimpse of where we could be headed if the Monsanto-written, Obama-approved and Congress-passed "Food Safety Modernization Act" is actually enforced.

Read closely, the new laws prohibit you from growing and consuming your own food without government approval.

To "keep you safe" of course.

Congress' "modernization" of food production practices -- corporate farming so toxic as to require the use of hazmat suits -- look like this:

Thumbnail image for chemical_farming.jpg (260x190)





20 Comments | Leave a comment




Whether or not the man in question violated his local zoning ordinances, (which were later revised to a more rational form) organic gardening is NOT a crime, never was, and is not the issue here - but your tabloid lead-in makes it seem so.

To see you add to the anti-establishment paranoia is beyond sad. Will you next print that this gardener is being brought up before a "death panel?"

This is just what we don't need right now from a publication that should be fostering sanity, civility and truth in reporting.

Thumbs down on this one from Dr. Klaper.

C'mon, Guys, you can do better.

Dr. K.


Dear VegSource - may I offer some sound advice?

I, too, am disappointed in this article - and the newsletter too.

I am usually impressed with most of what I've found on this website, but I'd like to offer you a strong caution and some words of wisdom, just because I like you and want to see you succeed.

There seems to be an air of sensationalism, and I think that if VegSource wants to remain credible, they should stay away from that.

I'm familiar with this case and I know that VegSource knows this case better, too. First of all, this man's so-called backyard is not a mere back yard, and he's not just giving vegetables to his neighbors. This man is operating small farm on several acres, and while he does give some vegetables away he has also been selling them and THAT is what he got zapped by the government for.

There do need to be some USDA rules in place for small farms - like it or not - because it's true that if improper farming techniques are employed then it can make thousands of people deathly ill.

As far as the remark in the newsletter about Monsanto - I despise Monsanto for all they're worth and then some, but they are not the government, as implied in the newsletter.

This kind of "reporting" is what I call garbage journalism, and is the stuff that tabloids are made of. Tabloids are not credible sources. Please don't lower yourself to this level - you're too good for that!

VegSource, you have a good thing going here, please don't ruin it with articles that have no credibility. There are enough facts out there that will make your point, there is no need to resort to this sort of thing. Presenting facts without leaving things out or exaggerating others will show that you are balanced and resourceful, and people will trust you for it.

If you keep on going like this, though, all you'll earn is a reputation for being some other fanatical source, and you'll lose your voice to the people. Personally, I'd hate to see that happen because I really like you guys.


Unfortunately like the camel who starts with his nose in the tent and ends up pushing the sheik outside, big agribusiness IS constantly pushing and testing its way into our government processes. As uncomfortable as it is to acknowledge, closing our eyes to that ever growing influence enables such takeover, cloaked as "Food Safety," in fact Big Brotherism reducing our choices and our freedoms. Let's see where we are right now: It's been a long time since we could purchase raw milk or dairy products even from tested certified organic herds; now we can't even buy raw organic almonds. Irradiated (killed) foods don't even have to be labelled as such, and no one will know as they won't even spoil. We know raw foods are healthier for us; to keep that info under wraps and feed agribusiness greed, access is increasingly limited and outlawed as is our right to define for ourselves life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To stay free we must be watchful, cherish and fight for our freedoms.


I notice some of the readers or responders seem to sympathize with the Big Government, that same Big Government that told us to trust them about Weapons of Mass Destruction, that Wonder Bread and Ketchup and hormone-fed meat is GOOD FOR YOU.

Please avoid the temptation to trust blindly Big Government. Don't rush to be an apologist for Big Government. It is deliberately fighting off competition for better ideas and any faintly revolutionary impulsed by THE PEOPLE. They harass people with fines, with legal actions (lawyers cost little people lots of money, but they are on the payroll of Big Government). There is an unholy alliance between Big Government, Big Agri-Business, Huge Corporate Oligarchs, and Big Special Interest Groups. They all collude behind the scenes to oppose the interests of the general public.

In this case, the government has the option to DROP THE CHARGES and DROP THE CASE. That is what they SHOULD DO. It is nasty to enforce piddly-diddly laws which make little sense. A reasonable person needs to assess the SITUATION, not blindly follow the "letter of the law", no matter how absurd said law is. They are acting like Bullies from a Totalitarian Regime, which unfortunately is what the federal and county governments in the USA have become.


Dear Vegsource,

I appreciate your piece warning of the potential dangers of big government interference with small food producers, which all too often is inextricably linked with corporations -- like Monsanto. Readers of the China Study will know of the influence of corporate interests on food policy in the US. Speaking of what the food police protect us from -- consider the fact that you cannot buy unpasturized apple cider in the US any longer. This product was sold for 400 years in this country. I suppose it is conceivable that someone may have gotten some contaminated cider, but really -- to outlaw it? I am willing, along with millions of Americans in the past, to take that minimal risk. Get serious Dr. K.

Who profits from this regulation? Obviously those large operations whose business is being cut into by the small operations and orchards who don't have the money to establish a cider pasturization plant. I'd be very surprised if such a regulation were not the result of big food lobby groups.



I'm no fan of big government and am as suspicious of its over-reaching and over-regulation as everyone else who has written in here with their predictable comments. I fully agree that we must ever be vigilant against abuse of power, be it from government - federal or local - or corporations.

But over-the-top, inflammatory headlines like "Organic Gardening Now A Crime" serves no one and diminishes the credibility of VegSource - an organization that I value greatly - as a reliable provider of information. That was my only point.


It's easy to become too comfortable -especially when we sit high in the hierarchy- and quickly forget how large scale institutions trample upon the lives of all those little people, who exist in obscurity down below us somewhere. While mangled in meaning these days, let us not forget the arrogance of: "Let them eat cake". (which actually was hard, stale, moldy, bread crust) How quickly we forget that in U.S. city after city, from coast to coast, community gardens have been attacked and destroyed by the nexus of corporate/government power - run by those high in the hierarchy, particularly driven by agribiz corporate grocers. Let's get this clear - when people grow their own food, they don't buy it from the corporations - who ultimately control "our" government. It is no surprise that one of the most radical things anyone can do these days is to grow their own food. After the war machine no longer needed to augment food supplies for the troops, talk of so called 'victory gardens' became obsolete and somehow a little lowbrow. There are just too many historical incidents of this sort of tactic to believe that this is all just being done to "assure our safety".

Now that we have entered the post peak oil era, we need to fully examine the consequences of such corporate/government power grabbing upon the very survival of our families and friends and "even" the poor homeless folks sleeping wherever they can, eating whatever they can. Yes, people have even been arrested for feeding the homeless in The United States of America (while the mercenary cops virtually waved the flag to obscure the sin).

We are only as secure as our least secure neighbor, especially with all the guns in these towns. We cannot afford the selfish hubris of blind hierarchy. We're all in this together now, sink or swim. Do something really radical (and illegal) - grow a garden and feed the homeless. Don't let the Wall-Mart Foundation (funded by voluntary donations, not their dear profits) get all the credit while they shore up the status quo.


Folks, no one is saying to blindly trust the government. What I'm saying is that facts need to be presented, not hype. I agree with Dr. K on this because hype does nothing but create panic based on misinformation, and that's a very dangerous thing!

One shouldn't blindly trust the government, but one shouldn't blindly trust websites, either - especially when they deliberately misrepresent the truth. That's an injustice right there - I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't like being lied to by anyone.


VeganGaia wrote:
"While mangled in meaning these days, let us not forget the arrogance of: "Let them eat cake". (which actually was hard, stale, moldy, bread crust) "

Please educate yourself.

Community gardens haven't been attacked the way you think. What's happening is that people are abusing zoning laws and this is why people are getting into trouble.

Gardening is a wonderful thing, but there are some things people are doing that make it dangerous for those who are eating of the yeild - such as using cow manure for fertilizer - which spreads the deadly e-coli bacteria. That's only one example - and the people look to the government to control that. One way they control that is by zoning and regulations - the setting forth of rules because there are cheaters everywhere who would place the lives of people at risk simply because they don't like "the establishment".

We do not live in an anarchist society, we have rules. If you don't like the rules, do your part to bring about change, but don't sit there and lie to people in the process about what's going on. That's what uneducated and spoiled people who are starving for attention do.

The very moment someone figures out you've lied or exaggerated, there goes your credibility and no one will listen to you. What good are you then?


I agree that the issue here is that the grower is being harassed by his county after the zoning problem has been repaired. This is definitely a political problem but is certainly NOT a problem with the man growing organic vegetables.
I agree with others above that this type of misleading inflammatory titling of the article is damaging to VegSource's credibility. Because of this type of inflammation I make it a point to not forward any VegSource newsletters to meat-eating friends/family because I don't want them to think that I've become a nutjob. The only way we are going to educate and convince others that there are better ways is to share calm rational factual information in a calm rational way.


I am glad we have struck a nerve here. It looks like there are two factions amongst the responders to this article. One is bourgeois liberals who are terrified that people will "panic" and resist that wonderful BIG GOVERNMENT and BIG ESTABLISHMENT which bullies people around with hundreds of thousands of absurd laws even the cops aren't familiar with. And then there are the true revolutionaries, folks who DISTRUST the absurdities and over-reach of the establishment.

Again, my position is simple and compassionate. The county government in this case needs to DROP THEIR CASE and DROP THE CHARGES and zero out any fines this organic farmer allegedly owes Big Brother and Big Agri-Business. The prosecutors' office must have a lot of useless time on its hands to even pursue this non-case.


I'm with those who are for limiting the power of Big Government. Most zoning laws are poorly written, and usually only benefit those with big money against small businesses and individuals, and ofter they just don't make good common sense. It seems that this is one such case, where this person is being penalized for growing and selling healthy food, something which is beneficial to his community.


I have no sympathy for this guy, I'm sorry. But the zoning laws are not poorly written in this case, the guy keeps disobeying them.

If this truly were a "back yard" garden or even a community garden, he wouldn't be in violation of any rules but he keeps trying to cut legal corners then rolls around on the floor playing victim when he gets in trouble for it.

This isn't about big government, it's about an attention seeking individual who is trying to circumvent the system. Period.

The government is NOT trying to take our gardens away from us, in fact there's a big market for community gardens and community based farming - it's alive and well all over the US, and even has the blessings of the USDA.

Don't think those farmers aren't paying their taxes and dues, because they are, and they're not complaining about it. If they have a problem with the rules, they get together and take the issue to legislature, they don't sit here fighting non-existent battles borne of hype and fear, and they DON'T spread non-truths and exaggerations like this topic. This is ridiculous!

And those of you who'd rather be blind and anti-government - you don't even know what you're doing. We need our government system, although we do need to reel it in a bit, but those of you who are so anti-government strike me as a bunch of rebellious kids who just don't like any kind of authority whatsoever - and people like you are an abuse of our US Constitution.

Your mothers should have taught you some important life skills as you were growing up, like the importance of authority and that if one needs to question authority there is a way of going about that without spreading lies and paranoia about it. In other words, your parents SHOULD have held you to a higher standard and taught you people to seek truth and knowledge - and I see that the majority of your parents failed miserably or else you were too rebellious to learn.

I know my mother is reading this. Thank you, Mom, for instilling the values of truth seeking and knowledge in me so that I wouldn't gtow up and fall prey to hype and paranoia. You have somehow managed to equip me with the ability to seek knowledge, apply wisdom, and find balance. That's something that apparently not very many parents do any more, so I'm lucky!


As an aging hippie who sat through an establishment adamantly opposed to the Peace Movement, I have become very skeptical of the bourgeios liberals reformers who grew up with me. They have tolerated or aided and abetted Gulf Wars I & II. AI for one have had it with an Elitist Stacked Deck from Wall Street crooks, Big Pharma, Big Agri-Business, Big Grocery, Big Food Processors, Big Multinational Capitalism, Indoctrination posing as education, and Big Law. Big Law can be defined as a cadre of nerdy, hyper-wordy, thoroughly unproductive parasitic lawyers who legislate tons of incomprehensible or inexcusable laws and bureaucracies. They and their cohorts make $500 + an hour to decipher Latin gibberish as lawyers for the government, or lawyers for the private sector, or lawyers hassling people as judges or prosecutors, all working in cahoots as a racket-profession to beat down the people, but never stepping on the toes of the very rich and powerful. I simply vote NO CONFIDENCE in the establishment or their apologists. Whether it is from the left or the right, I welcome a thorough Second American Revolution, to cleanse corruption and slime from our merciless, sadistic, sociopathic, racket establishment. You could call it a sociopath-ocracy and/or a kleptocracy. 80-90% of our ruling class are just a vicious bunch of conniving liars and thieves and they care NOT for the US Constitution, and they care even less for anyone else but their own families and cronies. I am glad that perhaps most people amongst the Veg Source community see reality clearly and are not persuaded to "feel sorry" for the poor, dear zoning board and establishment of Dekalb County and their ridiculous harassment of an organic farmer, who hasn't poisoned ONE PERSON. You can't say that about some of our monopolistic grocery distributors or big food processors. I doubt even if they killed anyone they'd get any $5000 fine. Or if they did, it would be quietly dropped when no one was still watching.


Good comments, Veggie Reader. In my opinion, our government spends way too much time prosecuting victimless "crimes", while the corporations that pollute the environment get away scott free. This farmer is not hurting anyone; Dekalb County should stop harassing him.


Dear Sandra,

I think you are too afraid. "Thousands of people will be deathly ill" That sound more like paranoia than the headline of the original story. I am almost 74 years old and grew up in a small midwestern town where and when almost everyone had a vegetable garden. Fertilization with cow manure was not uncommon -- it is a wonderful fertilizer. As a boy, I worked in those gardens and our family ate the produce. No one got sick. Of course, one can always wash the veggies before eating them. People did do that sort of thing before they started depending on the government to protect them.

Gardening vegetables, eating them and sharing them with one's neighbors is a natural human activity and not to be feared. We have been doing it for thousands of years and we do not need the government's permission or protection at this late date. Such fear is the result of ignorance and misinformation. It is the result of living too far from the organic world humans have shared since they first appeared on earth.



Dear Sandra,

I think you are too afraid. "Thousands of people will be deathly ill" That sound more like paranoia than the headline of the original story. I am almost 74 years old and grew up in a small midwestern town where and when almost everyone had a vegetable garden. Fertilization with cow manure was not uncommon -- it is a wonderful fertilizer. As a boy, I worked in those gardens and our family ate the produce. No one got sick. Of course, one can always wash the veggies before eating them. People did do that sort of thing before they started depending on the government to protect them.

Gardening vegetables, eating them and sharing them with one's neighbors is a natural human activity and not to be feared. We have been doing it for thousands of years and we do not need the government's permission or protection at this late date. Such fear is the result of ignorance and misinformation. It is the result of living too far from the organic world humans have shared since they first appeared on earth.



jm, I'm not afraid of anything!

My post is actually a reference to e-coli outbreaks that have happened when cow manure was used to fertilize vegetables and fruits - usually berries.

About 10 or so years ago a bunch of school children in several states were sickened with e-coli after eating strawberries contaminated with e-coli because the strawberries were fertilized with cow manure. Some of the children died.

Fresh Express prepackaged salad also was the source of more than one e-coli outbreak - again, from cow manure used as fertilizer and in some cases because somehow e-coli made it into the vegetable processing area.

DOLE has also had this problem.

Not too long ago some organic fruit juices that were not processed correctly were pulled from shelves after making people ill - it was unpasteurized juice, and a simple pasteurization process would have killed the bacteria that made so many people so ill. That, too, resulted in the deaths of many.

Lucky for you that you were never sickened, I'm happy for you. I wish I could say the same for the many people who have died due to things like salmonella, e-coli, and listeria from improper farming and/or processing, and from even something as simple as a food handler not washing their hands.

I'll bet you can't guess how many migrant farm workers urinate and defecate on the crops they're out in the fields harvesting. Would you like to take a stab at that one? Don't think that they stop and pee in a restroom - they just go in the field and usually all over the fruits or veggies, which then end up in the market place.

To call me paranoid is ignorant on your part, because you are not recognizing the vast dangers that can happen when people are careless about their crops or the processing of them, which includes the people they hire to harvest them.

While I am no farmer, I have been a gardener in the past, and there are small farmers in the family plus I have surrounded myself with friends who are farmers and ranchers. These are small time farmers and ranchers who are just as concerned about big government as anyone else, and who do not appreciate large farming coops and unions attempting to step all over them and run them out of business.

Even these people recognize the difference between reality and fantasy, and they can see through the hype and exaggeration surrounding stories like this one - and they don't like it because of the panic and hysteria it causes because then people take their panic and hysteria to the polls and make uneducated votes that cause more trouble than good.

Some regulations are necessary, because there are people who can't be trusted to keep good quality control or raise their crops properly, thus endangering people who consume their yield. The man in this article is no exception. While his vegetables may be technically safe, he's trying to cut corners and make people think he's a backyard gardener when in fact he's really a small farmer. Is it fair to the other small farmers that he doesn't have to pay the same taxes and fees or apply the same quality control measures that they have to apply? No, it isn't. It's a slap in the face to them.

And who is responsible if his harvest makes someone sick because his vegetables contained e-coli? In case you aren't aware, e-coli doesn't just wash off with cold water - hot soapy water might reduce it, though. But who is going to wash their fruits and vegetables in hot soapy water?

I am not afraid - but I am a realist. I believe in learning from the life lessons of myself and those around me. When I observe news items indicating thousands of people are getting sick from e-coli in the vegetables, I sit up and take notice and apply some common sense. You would do well to do the same thing. That you never got sick doesn't mean others haven't under various circumstances.

In an ideal world no one would get sick, but in an ideal world, farm workers don't urinate and defecate on the crops, either; or let the cattle poop on those crops. If not for some USDA regulations this would be happening even more than it already is.


I agree that small farmers should not have to pay special taxes and licensing fees. In that case, all small farmers would be on equal footing with the fellow in the story.

It would be interesting to discover whether it is small or large corporate farms that are the major source of e coli and other kinds of biological and chemical contamination of the food supply. Does anyone know the data?



From the Chicago Tribune -- I think the guns drawn government agents are the real paranoids.

GGN- Police Raid Health Food Store for Raw Milk – Guns Drawn

With no warning one weekday morning, investigators entered an organic grocery with a search warrant and ordered the hemp-clad workers to put down their buckets of mashed coconut cream and to step away from the nuts.

Then, guns drawn, four officers fanned out across Rawesome Foods in Venice. Skirting past the arugula and peering under crates of zucchini, they found the raid’s target inside a walk-in refrigerator: unmarked jugs of raw milk.

“I still can’t believe they took our yogurt,” said Rawesome volunteer Sea J. Jones, a few days after the raid. “There’s a medical marijuana shop a couple miles away, and they’re raiding us because we’re selling raw dairy products?”

On one side are government regulators, who say they are enforcing rules designed to protect consumers from unsafe foods and to provide a level playing field for producers. On the other side are “healthy food” consumers — a faction of foodies who challenge government science and seek food in its most pure form.


I feel a lot safer with organic yogurt than gun toting bureaucrats.


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