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Backyard can mean food control

It was interesting to sit down with Dean Rugland the manager of the Yorkton Peavey Mart about how the company is trying to focus on small farmers, acreage owners, and the growing realm of urban farmers.

It was interesting to sit down with Dean Rugland the manager of the Yorkton Peavey Mart about how the company is trying to focus on small farmers, acreage owners, and the growing realm of urban farmers.

The world of food is becoming one which while I am not personally worried when I walk into a grocery store, I can appreciate those who are starting to wonder just what we are consuming.

Pick up anything that is processed and read the ingredient label, and unless you have a degree in chemical engineering, you might as well try to decipher something written in Martian.

The idea of bacon that can sit on a shelf and then be mirowaved in mere seconds is at least somewhat disquieting if you think about it.

And one has to at least be aware of growth hormones and insecticide residues and a host of other potential issues with food if any link in the chain from the farm to the table is broken, or the safety measures lessened.

The alternative is to take greater control of our own food.

Most are simply consumers now, and they will not change. It is like darning a pair of socks, once it was common practice. Now a sock with a hole in it is destined for the landfill, while the wearer heads to a department store to buy a new pair.

I appreciate the cost is often less to buy new, especially if you assign any value at all to your time, but still it is a reality which feeds commercialism.

But back to taking control of food security.

In small cities and towns we might question just how much control we can have, but the ability to control what we put on the table should be more at hand than we realize.

To start with most backyards can be good gardens. Many may have turned that space over to grass and a gazebo as an outdoor living space, but that is, as they say a choice.

A backyard should also have the potential be a place which produces more than vegetables.

In this space before I have suggested urban egg production should be allowed. Most major cities have moved in that direction. Edmonton is among those currently undertaking a test run to make sure they have the right regulations in place.

There are now enough urban municipalities allowing urban laying hens that cloning a workable bylaw should be simple.

In cases where requests for urban layers have met resistance from Council it can only be seen as short-sighted reactions by the Councils involved.

The backyard should also be a place for honey bees.

Again many urban communities are allowing hives, again with rules, a fence to keep the curious and the vandals away.

Honey bees are less an issue if you stay away from their hives than wasps and hornets, so again, if the bylaw is done right, they can be safely raised.

Now I did mention this in passing to friends who were immediately concerned if a hive went in the yard neighbouring someone allergic to bees.

It was a concern but one I’m not sure you can take too far.

Does a farmer with bees in a clover field need to check with every farm yard within a mile or two to see if someone there is allergic?

Do we ask people on our city block if they have cynophobia before buying a Doberman Pinscher? Cynophobia is a fear of dogs.

And ultimately are bees buzzing into a yard where there are no flowers, since I would suspect people with bee allergies do not grow something which attract bees and there are wild bees, bumblebees and such to worry about naturally in any community.

Now no one is going to suggest a milk cow, well some might, but common sense makes that request unreasonable. The size, noise and waste from a cow is more than is reasonable for a backyard.

Three or four laying hens, a doe rabbit and litter for the deep freeze, or a hive of bees do not raise the same concerns, provided of course there are regulations in place.

While there will always be those with concerns, a larger community concern should be allowing people the best options for looking after the basic need for safe food.

Hopefully, over time more urban municipalities will establish such regulations, and more people will have a chance to take back at least some level of control in terms of their own food.

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