The Adjusted Normal, 15. Of Crops, Pesticides, and Circumventing Laws.

In small villages, a favorite topic of conversation is the crops. "How are your potatoes doing?" "Did the crows leave your corn alone?" "My tomatoes have been infected by beetles. Are yours okay?" We no longer live off what we plant; in most families, at least one person has a job. Yet, we continue planting because we prefer knowing where our produce comes from. We still buy fruits and vegetables at the grocer's, but larger crops that tend to last all year, like potatoes and corn, most still prefer to sow themselves. 

Those that have chickens, or still have a pig, are the ones that sow the corn, to use as food for their livestock. But almost every house has a vegetable and a potato patch. The potatoes, the beans, and the onions are the crops that last well into the winter and the spring. The others, such as peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, peas, and watermerlons, are generally eaten off the plants, or frozen. 

However, if pesticides of one kind or another aren't sprayed from time to time, before we eat the fruits of our labor, other pests will. Once upon a time, copper sulphate was the only thing sprayed on kitchen gardens. It worked, it still does, but less than before, because the plagues are getting used to the stuff. Besides, it doesn't do much for some plagues, like potato beetles. Other pesticides have been developed and gone on the market in the intervening years, each new chemical mix more potent than the last one. 

But, to combat the dying of the bees, songbirds, and good insects, the European Union has decided to limit the accessibility to these new pesticides. To be able to buy them, one now has to have a license saying they are allowed to do so. To get the license, there are courses one must take. The most basic one is around twenty-five hours long, and can be online or in a physical class. Back when the decree came into effect, there were many towns and private academies offering the courses, which quickly filled up. The price could range from free to over a hundred euros. 

Since most of the people who apply the products are older, online classes can be generally ruled out. What they are taught is mostly how to take precautions to apply the products without posing a threat to either fauna and flora, and themselves. That involves dressing up as if the person were about to enter an ICU filled with Covid patients. But the people that attend the courses, pay attention, get the certificate, and then go buy what products they need. And they end up applying them the way they've always done; wearing every day clothing they then don't change out of, no goggles, no mask, and sometimes, no gloves. They also toggle the dosage a bit, tending to be heavy handed, because they don't trust the manufacturer to give them the real amount that will do away with a plague without having to buy another box of powders, or bottle of liquid. 

To buy the pesticides, one now has to have that license, and every time one buys the potent pesticides, the name, identity card, and license number are noted at the store. They have to turn in a list every so often of products sold. Sometimes, when the least toxic option is used, the plague doesn't fully go away, so you go back and ask for something stronger. If you respond you don't have the manipulator's license, they'll hem and haw, and then cave in if they know you at the store. They'll sell you what you need, and mark the sale next to the name of someone who does have the license. 

So, if you have a small plot of potatoes, but don't have a license, you can still get the more toxic pesticides if you are friends, or acquaintances, with the garden store owner. If you go with any regularity, though, they will ask you to get the license. If things look screwy on their end, they can get fined. At that point, you can go to another gardening store where you know the owner.

It's a very Spanish system of circumventing the law. And there generally are always ways to circumvent almost any law, especially if you have money. The richer you are in Spain, the less the law applies to you. We've never outgrown the nepotism inherent in earlier years. I suppose we never will, though, outwardly, we might seem more European. Corruption is inherent in our make-up, though it may not always shine through. People have become more honest than in decades gone by, but many still get a thrill out of bucking the system.

Life continues.

Potato, Harvest, Crop, Farm, Garden


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