Thursday, November 28, 2013


I've written about this before, but it comes back around in my head every time I hear another broadcast about how we have to do some asinine thing so we can be "safe."  We have to take off our shoes and go through a metal detector (and now a body scanner) so we can be "safe" boarding a plane, because various people have done evil things on planes, including one guy with a dud bomb in his shoe.  Thank God they've decided the body scanners will spot bombs in underwear; the day you have to be strip searched to get on a plane is the day I quit flying; and driving to visit my sister takes 10 hours.  It would be amusing to watch the business community cope with it, though.

The latest thing to make us "safe" is new FDA rules which effectively make organic agriculture, habitat conservation methods around farms, and anything resembling normal farming, illegal.  This is because e. coli contamination in some bagged California lettuce spread a moderate epidemic, and the entire food industry went shrieking crazy.  The FDA suddenly became aware that farming is dirty.  Animals on farms shit; wild animals and birds passing through farms shit; and the shit gets on the fruit and vegetables and then we all get sick.  (Some of us were once trained that you washed anything you brought home before eating it; what happened to that?  Not to mention, why do you buy lettuce in a bag and not by the head?)

I will not apologize for the word shit.  It's a fine old Anglo-Saxon word; if it was good enough for Geoffrey Chaucer, it's good enough for me.  Part of our cultural problem is that we regard perfectly natural bodily processes as somehow evil and not to be discussed in polite company.  (Thank you, Queen Victoria - not.)  There are doubtless people who would stop shitting if they could - except that it would kill them.

Anyone who's ever been on a farm knows that animal and bird shit is part of the package.  They also know that if you compost it and put it back on the soil, it will enrich the soil, and you won't have to pay Monsanto a penny for it.  Can this be why the new FDA rules ban using manure as fertilizer?  Well, not ban, exactly:
Using natural fertilizers such as manure and compost would become "very problematic" if the rules take effect...
The FDA proposes a nine months wait between applying manure and harvest - plus a 45-day waiting period after applying the compost.  Current organic standards are 4 months, no additional waiting.  (See the article I linked.)  This basically makes growing crops impossible.  Doesn't anybody at the FDA know anything about farming??  On the published evidence, the answer is no.  The human race has been feeding itself with this kind of farming for 10,000 years and now they say it's too dirty?

My dad grew up on a farm in Missouri.  I remember my grandmother plucking chickens for the pot in our kitchen.  We still tell about the time dad brought home a live turkey for Thanksgiving and then had to chase it around the yard with an axe.  Fresh food will not make you sick if you wash everything and cook everything properly.  This is not rocket science.  But many people don't know how to cook any more, and many can't afford fresh food.  Which is about as unsafe as you can get.

Let's get back to that word "safe."  We have to do these idiot things so we can be "safe."  People, we are not safe, and we never have been safe.  First of all, no matter what you think, we are all going to die. The only thing we don't usually know is when and how. Second, stupidity can be fatal, and ignorance can be fatal.  And even if you're well informed and not stupid, someone else's stupidity or ignorance can kill you at any moment (especially if the idiot is driving a car).  We've gone beyond the point where wild animals will kill us - usually, we kill them.  (This is normal, all you PETA folks - homo sapiens is currently the top predator in every biome it inhabits, and what top predators do is eat smaller creatures.)

So we aren't safe, and we're all going to die, and we don't know when.  Oh, woe, what can we do?  It's very simple.  Quit worrying about being safe.  If death is part of life, so is risk; and sometimes you have to take a risk to achieve a greater goal.  Try to avoid doing anything stupid; try to avoid being around people acting stupidly; do your best; keep moving forward.  I've taken three major, life-threatening risks in the last 15 years: three total knee replacements. The alternative in every case was losing the ability to walk. People die in hospitals all the time; people die under the knife.  If I hadn't taken these risks, I'd be in a wheel chair and not living in my 2 story home.  I might even be dead.  I calculated the risk and I won.  Calculate the risks and move forward, knowing and ignoring the fact that you aren't safe.  You may find you live longer than you ever dreamed.  Or maybe not.  We'd all like certainty; and it's the one thing we're never going to get.