Having lived in Australia for three years now, I’ve already come to take for granted the pleasure of farm gate sales of all sorts of foods. But after seeing a recent post at Howling Duck Ranch about food sovereignty in British Columbia, I realized the sale of produce at small farms isn’t something any of us should take for granted if we are still privileged enough to enjoy it. Sadly, ever-increasing government regulation of agriculture in North America is tilted in favor of giant industrial producers and makes experiences like the one I enjoyed today few and far between.
Normally, I get my eggs from my mother-in-law who keeps a few hens. But the hens have grown a bit long in the tooth and have quit laying (think of it as poultry menopause). So until her new hens ramp up production, I’m supplementing those eggs with some I can buy down the street from my house.
The first time I went, I figured there would be somebody manning the egg sales. Wrong.
It’s on the honor system. How great is that?
You put your $3.20 in the ice cream container…
…take your eggs out of the esky (a.k.a. styrofoam cooler)…
…and you’re on your way. The only thing they ask is that you return the carton the next time you come back.
Just looking over some of the individual state regulations in the U.S., it appears something like this would almost never fly because of refrigeration requirements, labeling and packaging regulations among other bureaucratic red tape. It’s a shame, really. I understand that all those regulations are done in the name of safety, but I’ve never worried about whether the eggs I buy from someone’s house on the honor system are safe. I figure if they trust me enough to leave my money, I can trust that they are selling a safe, wholesome product. Personally, I’d worry a whole lot more about the quality and safety of eggs bought from a ginormous anonymous hatchery with all its strict government regulations than I would about eggs bought from my neighbor who has a little flock of chickens scratching around in his backyard.