"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Saturday, June 7, 2014

New Trade Route

The trade network has been pretty much dormant since I got back from Mexico. We made that one great trade last summer - a baby goat for four turkeys ( Turkey Trade )- but nothing the robust networks I had going on a few years ago ( On Trading and CanningMaking Trade Goods (Gratuitous Canning Advice)Recent Trades and a Good Idea).

Then a new trading avenue opened up; I was invited to join a Facebook group of local farmers looking to trade goods and services. So far, it has only resulted in two actual trades - my pork chops for fresh cow's milk, and then my empty canning jars and some fresh cheese for these lovely canned plums, above. Since I have more cheese than I know what to do with, I asked people on the list who might be interested in some of it - as a free gift, from one neighbor to another, NOT for sale, which would be illegal. It's not illegal, however, for you to give me some of your extra snap peas. Not in exchange, you see, but just because you have too many of them. Just as I have too much cheese. Ahem.

Seriously, the legality of trading is so nebulous and cobwebby I don't even want to look into it. I'm sure it's illegal, just like EVERYTHING ELSE I want to do. Especially trading milk products. That probably would get me five to ten in the state pen. Please don't tell.

Please. I'll give you cheese.

I've already written a post about the legality of trading and admitting myself to be a scofflaw and an unrepentant participant in the informal economy (State of the Trade Network 2010 (What's Your Perspective?), so I won't go into it again here. But I am still interested - what do you all think about trading? Do you do it? Do you report it to the IRS? Do you think it ought to be regulated?


dr24hours said...

There are very good reasons that trading and selling unregulated farm products is illegal. It can kill people. If everyone has eyes wide open and accepts the risks, that's fine. But all it takes is a single dead kid, and everyone screams, "Where was the oversight?" Well, we have oversight. We made it illegal.

Same reason you can't build your own go-carts out of lawnmower parts and drive them on the roads.

Aimee said...

Sure, I understand the logic. Society is always trying to decide on acceptable levels of risk for various activities, because all same people know that zero risk is both unattainable and undesireable. It is my personal opinion that current US society has swung the pendulum too far in the low risk regulated direction. I do t know about you but I feel perfectly competent to decide what is safe for me and my kids to eat - provided I have access to information. Case in point - I can visit my neighbors kitchen and decide if its clean enough for me, but there are laws that give jail time for filming inside a commercial slaughterhouse. I can ask my neighbor her recipe for jam, but the law doesn't allow me know what ingredients are GE in my food. I want the right to decide my own tolerable level of risk based on informed consent. The law wants to strip me of that whole at the same time preventing me from procuring my own foods through trade.

dr24hours said...

I agree we should be able to decide our own levels of acceptable risk, if we also waive a certain right to redress. Regulated industries care punished for non-compliance, and subject to lawsuit.

If we say: trading is fine, we all understand there are risks, then fine. But you give up some expectation of redress.

Aimee said...

Bro - I wish regulated industries were punished for non-compliance more regularly and predictably! And I'm not just talking about food industries! But that's a whole 'nother conversation. Sure, I agree, when you willingly take on a risk you usually waive redress, unless of course it's specifically negotiated in the agreement. Can't think of an example of that right now, but I'm sure it has happened. But when I accept a neighbor's canned food in trade (as I did just recently) I am accepting the risk involved and if I get botulism I'm not going to sue her for it (I'd be dead, anyway). But when a friend offers you a ride to the airport, you accept the risk of riding in the car, right? You aren't going to sue your friend if he crashes, are you? Those kinds of accepting risks are implied, I think.