What do you do if you want to buy vegetables? If you’re like most people, you head to the grocery store to buy food grown far away from where you live by people you don’t know under conditions you aren’t sure about. What if you had a choice to buy veggies from somebody around the block instead?
Shamefully, I don’t eat vegetables the way I should, so I can’t remember the last time I’ve been in the vegetable section of a grocery store unless I was on my way to the meat counter. But if I did suddenly become a healthy eater, I’d have a choice that a lot of people don’t have. I could walk two blocks to the house you see above and buy fresh vegetables grown in their yard — all without any licensing or health permits.
I feel pretty certain that this must be against city vending ordinances to do it in a residential area, but this older couple have been doing this ever since before I moved to the neighborhood 20 years ago. They’ve lived there in their modest little house since long before an affluent suburb grew up around them. The mayor of this little suburb lives within 50 yards of the house where these folks live, so I’m sure the city knows about it. Even though my little suburb likes to see itself as progressive and upscale these days, it leaves these people alone. Why? I assume it’s because they’ve been doing it for so long and because the people who live nearby actually like it.
This older couple aren’t going to win any awards for marketing or merchandising displays, but there’s something reassuring and honest about their little operation. I was thinking last night — not for the first time — that what they do is a perfect example of how commerce works when the state doesn’t give orders.