Regulation

"The lesson of the Three Little Pigs isn't to avoid straw. It's that you don't let a pig build your house."

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keeping out state inspectors

In California, there are earthquakes. There are also wolves. But the former are a bigger threat to the stability of non-fairytale, non-porcine homes.

A fun fact about straw:

A "test conducted at the University of Nevada's large-scale structures laboratory showed that straw-bale constructions could withstand twice the amount of ground motion recorded in the Northridge earthquake that hit Los Angeles in 1994."

So if you happened to own a farm 11 miles from the San Andreas Fault, straw starts to look pretty attractive as a building material.

The state of California does not find this novel idea appealing:

The cards were stacked against Warren Brush, the director of a not-for-profit farm in Cuyama, California, when local officials learned in 2006 that he had several buildings made of straw bales on his land. They have tried to fine him. A lot. But the case is still unresolved. The problem is that California's building codes make no provision for the use of straw.

Read the whole story, complete with a bunch of Three Little Pigs jokes and other straw puns, at The Economist.