Lileks: Veggie sales are about to run amok

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 7, 2012 - 10:01 PM

The Minneapolis City Council has lifted a ban on citizens selling produce to other people. This is madness. That law was there for 39 years, and for good reason. Do you know what the reason was? You do? Could you tell me? Because I don't.

Maybe someone sold a neighbor some parsley at below-market-value price, threatening the entire foundation of the national parsley industry. Anyone with memory of the Basil Panic of 1954 knows what that was like to live through. But I'm sure they knew what they were doing, otherwise they wouldn't have passed a law.

But it gets worse. If you're growing food to sell to other people, you won't have to submit a soil sample to the city. This means that those tomatoes you buy from a neighbor are certainly poisoned. OK, probably poisoned. Perhaps this was a controversial move; imagine the conversation at City Hall:

"Well, chief, someone's garden soil could be contaminated." "Is it, though? You see any rabbits falling over dead after they nibble on a leaf?" "No, but there's nothing that says there wasn't a munitions plant that made dioxin-soaked asbestos on that spot where they have the garden now." "Nothing except the historical record, you mean." "We have to be sure! I strongly recommend all gardeners hire certified inspectors to perform 10-foot core samples!"

But they decided not to, so if there are any fatal carrots, let it be on their heads. (Not literally.) So now your health is at risk; the entire food-chain supply system is in danger of collapsing from lack of demand, and there will be countless stands with cute kids selling zucchini with the "Z" written in reverse to indicate a heart-warming childish attempt at signage, and you'll feel bad if you don't stop at every one, too. It's the Lemonade Situation times 10.

Who will buy it, anyway? At the end of the season, everyone always has bushels of excess zucchini, and that's where the stands come in handy. The zucchini will go for a dollar a bag. And if you take two bags, they'll give you $2 and throw in a third for free.

Anyway, there's one good result: That's probably the only ridiculous prohibition still on the books. Glad they got that taken care of. Take the rest of the month off!

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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