Letter to the Editor – John Milnes – Getting Back to Food Basics – South Stormont Ontario – April 26, 2010

Dear Sir:

Times are a changing and we do seem to be going in a circular fashion from the past to the present and back again in one fell swoop.  I am thinking, particularly, of those old fashioned days when every one kept a few chickens in their backyard and perhaps even a pig or two.  In days gone by this practice was common in the country and city alike.  Now we are returning to the same old ways through modern thinking and we are caused to believe, once more, we should be producing some of our food needs close to home.  Even the Premier of Ontario has suggested we should all have a kitchen garden and keep a few chickens.

The philosophy behind this move back to the old ways isn’t so bad. We get thebenefit of fresh produce and the tired product of the superstores needs, no longer, to be shipped great distances. Thus both the home producer and the environment are winners.  Naturally, the superstores will make less profit but there are ups and downs in every endeavour. An added bonus for the home producer is the fitness that can be obtained without going to the local fitness club.

The downside of this, apart from the mindset of the lazy and/or disinterested citizen, lies in the books of some city authorities whose elected folk are still living in times now in the history books.  Such authorities are archaic in their thinking and practices.  Many such cities, including the City of Cornwall, continue to have on their books by-laws that prohibit a citizen from keeping livestock within the city boundary.  This ancient way of thinking was, originally, to protect the city dwellers, who are too steeped in their self protectionist attitudes, not wanting to hear or see the sounds and sight of country life.

A similar mindset of the city dweller is to reject the animals that nature deems has a right to a particular habitat.  What springs to mind are the Canada geese and, in some communities, the coyotes that are considered to be a nuisance rather than an asset.  We tend to forget the goose and the coyote are returning to their familiar range and natural habitat both of which we humans have displaced with urban sprawl filled with citizens who cannot abide the sight nor sound of anything natural.

The philosophy of many urban dwellers is that their entire needs must be met in the fast food outlets or the superstores and please do not expect them to work after their paid day is over; the urban dwellers expect to be protected from the realities of life.  These people appear ready to walk their dogs, or just let them loose, often not even picking up after them; some allow the dogs to interfere with the peace and quiet of the environment with constant, unrelenting, raucous yapping and barking.

In the Brooklyn, Massachusetts, U.S.A. conurbation they are experimenting with roof farms and, of course, roof gardens have been a part of urban living in many communities for many years.  Any municipality taking such a step into the future would only seem to be a progressive move.

It is time for the backward municipalities to think through their strategies, if they have the capacity to do so, and produce new bylaws rather than retaining, on their books, antiquated bylaws that only reflect the non-comprehending nature of those who desire protection from an involvement in life.

John E. Milnes, South Stormont Ontario

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