Food Sovereignty

Ask anyone who has ever tried to grow and sell anything more than a tomato as a local small farmer. They’ll tell you about the bureaucracy. Standards for “slaughtering facilities” that can never be met by a farmer who wants to butcher 30 chickens a year. Distribution networks that require massive scales of operation. Laws about value added food (various preserves, salsas, drinks, cooked vegetables) that require them to be made in certified commercial kitchens. Many times branching out beyond raw vegetables just becomes impossible for small scale producers.

A small town in Maine became the first to buck the trend. The town of Sedgwick Maine has declared Food Sovereignty!

Citing America’s Declaration of Independence and the Maine Constitution, the ordinance proposed that “Sedgwick citizens possess the right to produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing.” These would include raw milk and other dairy products and locally slaughtered meats, among other items.

This isn’t just a declaration of preference. The proposed warrant added, “It shall be unlawful for any law or regulation adopted by the state or federal government to interfere with the rights recognized by this Ordinance.” In other words, no state licensing requirements prohibiting certain farms from selling dairy products or producing their own chickens for sale to other citizens in the town. TCP

Boom! Take that top heavy bureaucracies! It’s like they made a big pile out of the red tape surrounding easy access to local foods. Then they lit that pile on fire.

Regardless of the outcome when all the votes are counted, Sedgwick and the other three towns have stood up and taken a stand on what matters in our communities. We know of several other towns who are just waiting to see how this goes before they jump in the game. Our State Legislators and Senator are very excited about this as it gives them a mandate to begin to make the changes at the state level. Right now there are three bills in the Legislature’s Ag Committee that address our issues at the state level, largely because our issues are everyone’s issues when you get right down to it. If citizens in enough towns in enough states stand up and take a stand on their local food system based on their inalienable right to produce and choose the food they eat, the Fed might have to listen! What a concept.

As a country the majority of us have become politically lazy and complacent. If we want change we must take up the tools of the democracy bequeathed to us by the Founding Fathers, organize, and get the ball rolling.

If anybody thinks real change happens any other way, look at our history: Long before our Constitution was amended, individuals and small groups of outspoken people put their lives on the line to end slavery, to allow women the right to vote, to end racial discrimination, etc. Look at the struggles to legalize something as basic as the right to home school your own children. Real change comes from the people. Period. -Deborah Evans

Remember folks, it’s the local elections and bills that really make or break a city when tough times come.  Can you grow food? Can you use your own house as a place of business? Many of these rights are legislated away every day. Signed away in home owner association agreements, or passed as town aesthetic ordinances.

The spring planting season approaches. Can you hear the siren call of the carrots? Reclaim your food sovereignty this spring! Plant vegetables in your front lawn!  And if that requires you to make it to a few city council meetings to clear the way, then now’s the time!

– Calamity Jane

18 comments… add one
  • irishdutchuncle March 12, 2013, 7:19 am

    RIGHTS trump democracy. (that’s why we’re a republic)

    no vote of the “majority” or legislature takes away your rights. (that’s why they they have to send people with guns to oppress you)

  • Roseman March 12, 2013, 8:59 am

    We buy eggs from a neighbor for 2.00 a dozen. They also raise and sell chickens and turkeys dressed and ready to cook. No advertising or signs out front, just word of mouth throughout the neighborhood. Too many regulations for a small operation like theirs to be viable in any other way.

  • Carolyn March 12, 2013, 9:32 am

    I think this is awesome! It’s about time a bunch of folks stood together to take back the right to feed themselves and anyone else who wants in on the game. Feds, on both sides of the border, have made feeding ourselves and our neighbors, illegal because there is no money in it for them, because where there is freedom to eat as one wishes there is the chance of free thinking and free speech and rebellion. GASP! So the mere act of passing laws to buck the feds is not only brave, but wise and progressive and a step back to a logic that the feds just can’t embrace.
    I can only hope that towns in Canada will do the same very soon.

  • GoneWithTheWind March 12, 2013, 10:31 am

    I think you are conflating two seperate issues; the right to be in business and the regulations intended to keep us safe. Every restaurant is inspected and has standards. Some of them are forced to post a large “D” in their front window because of frequent failing of the cleanliness and health standards. Should you or I or some small farmer be exempt from the health standards that common sense and experience have shown to be necessary? Is that the only way we can be free by poisoning our nieghbors??? Is that your definition of food sovereignty?

  • Calamity Jane March 12, 2013, 11:07 am

    Of course the regulations are INTENDED to keep us safe. But what’s needed for a meat processing plant that handles hundreds/thousands of carcasses every day, is different (mainly in scale) than what’s needed to safely butcher a chicken or two a week. But those differences are never acknowledged in current regulation. It’s one size fits all.
    Of course cleanliness and safe handling are important, but those can be met in the small scale far easier than they can in larger scale operations.
    I don’t have any regulations placed on me for dinner preparations for my family, and yet somehow I manage not to kill them.
    I think I would probably avoid killing my customers too if I decided I wanted to sell some salsa out of my clean kitchen.

    Why do you conflate freedom with poisoning? The large food recalls that I remember from last year, were not small scale growers, they were large commercial operations, fully regulated, yet still managing to get Listeria into Cantaloupe and E coli into Spinach.

    What do you think people did for the first hundred or so years before federal food regulations existed in this country? They bought from people they trusted locally, or made their own. They certainly didn’t find a friendly multinational corporation to ship food to them from CA.

    – Calamity

    • Roseman March 12, 2013, 11:17 am


    • GoneWithTheWind March 12, 2013, 8:38 pm

      You are correct that in spite of all the regulations some people fail to follow common sense rules for food handling and we have outbreaks of disease. You are incorrect in assuming it does not happen in mom and pop environments, in fact it happens more often but simply isn’t newsworthy on a nationwide news outlet.

      We have a Saturday flea market in town and at noon a hispanic lady has prepared food for sale. Smells soooo good and I love Mexican food. I bet it is hot and savory and real Mexican food. But I don’t buy it. Who knows what her standards are. My loss maybe since it smells so good but I am just not a gambler. Having said that I ate lunch at Disneyland last month and got sick as a dog and ended up puking my guts up. Watch out for the steak and cheese sandwiches at Disneyland.

      Conflate: As in conflating anything and everything some farmer wants to do with “freedom”. If he prepares food to be eaten then he must be treated as a restaurant. If he slaughters animals for human consumption then he must obey the rules that slaughter houses are held to. why not??? If someone can start up a restaurant or a lunch truck and somehow manage to obey these rules why can’t a farmer who wants to sell food for human consumption?

    • Simple Man March 13, 2013, 8:05 pm

      Calamity You are completley right. GWTW is a troll this person does this on all the prepper blogs. If it has anything to do with food or medicine the goverment is king and we know nothing. Two places I would not eat a hospital and a whore house both are equally disgusting. My neighbors kitchen i have ate in. The farmer down the road I have stood in their kitchen buying milk and eggs they are some clean people. I would eat there. I wont eat at Mcdonalds I don’t give a crap if they have As Bs C or Ds in the window. I was raised on a dairy farm we sold the micky Ds buyer the the 16 and 17 year old cows that got down and couldn’t get up’ the cows that had mastitis that wouldn’t go away and any other cow sick or lame and it was all perfectly legal. Do we need regulations certianly. But if I have knowledge of where my food comes from that’s called freedom of choice. Do you know you can milk a cow with mastitis in to your milking system and they will still take the milk. My friend and farmer has never gave me tainted milk. If you have the ability Watch Farmaggedon on you tube or netflix it has alot of info

      • Backwoods Prepper March 13, 2013, 8:30 pm

        I went to a fast food returant and I am in the bathroom and a guy walks out without washing his hands after doing number two. In walks an employee goes number One and washes his hands. cool right? he’s clean. then he grabs same door handle that the man that went number two grabs. goes back to the burger line and I walk up to the counter and see him laying out burger buns. Yelp I’m like you just can’t eat at those places anymore.

      • GoneWithTheWind March 14, 2013, 10:00 am

        This person is not a troll. I am very interested in a few things and enjoy discussing them. You will notice I make no comments about many things posted here, either I agree with the posts or mildly disagre or I’m neutral. Some issues pique my interest and food safety is one of them. It is ironic that anyone would be scared of HFCS and yet embrace raw milk. What is worse is they fail to see the irony.

        • Backwoods Prepper March 14, 2013, 10:50 am

          Oh heck now you had to go and say raw milk. I am 42 years old and have been drinking raw milk my whole life. raw milk is nothing to be afraid of.The only reason milk was pasturized in the first place is because some shady city slicker bought the milk from the farmer and tried to sell it in the big city and let it half spoil and wasn’t clean. The whole time I was growing up our milk was kept in a washed out bleach jug. If I go to a farmers house and I deem him clean enough for me to buy from thats my business. If I get sick it would be easier to find him and his cow than that ten thousand cow gallon in the store.

  • waterboy March 12, 2013, 11:34 am

    Rock on Sedgewick. People should be able to eat what they want, not what the government says they need. It’s about freedom.

  • Ken March 12, 2013, 12:58 pm

    I live in one of the small maine towns that declared food sovereigty. I am also a vegetable grower and have a farm stand, I could not even cut a melon in half for two old ladies because that was food preperation. Ridiculus just doesnt seem harsh enough, but now I can and do.

  • Jarhead Survivor March 12, 2013, 1:21 pm

    I’ve been watching that with interest.

    As to regulations to keep us safe.. man, this is a topic that pisses me off all the time. At work the other day I went into small kitchenette and washed my hands. I took the used paper towel and looked around for the trash and couldn’t find it. Finally I asked one of the ladies where it was. She said,”Oh, the health inspectors came through awhile back and said we can’t have a trash can in the kitchen any more.”

    Seriously? It’s not like the trash was overflowing all over the floor, but somewhere, some government drone decided that it was unsafe and now we can’t have a trash can in the kitchenette.

    A minor point surely, but once you have enough of these “little” rules built up over time it becomes impossible for businesses to do their job. I’m all for safety such as, “Don’t walk under the tree they’re about to cut down,” but I’ll take my chances every where else in life. At least I’d like to be able to make my own decision about it.

  • T.R. March 12, 2013, 4:41 pm

    Its just another way for the left to slowly institute Communism into America …………….call it regulation , call it whatever you want ……….its still Communism .

  • Robert March 12, 2013, 7:45 pm

    I’ve finally gotten the ball rolling on growing (some of) my own food. Seeds are starting inside, potato can gets planted tomorrow, one raised bed is set up waiting for transplants, blackberries planted and a couple of fruit trees. If I have enough berries, I’ll make and sell/trade some preserves/jam. No way I’ll make any money at it, but those who can should be able to.

    No way I will be able to feed myself from a small patch in a small yard in the desert, but it’s a step. I’ll have healthier foods though.

    Looking into local regulations for chickens. Can’t imagine my neighbors would mind, especially if there were fresh eggs involved.

  • Mainer March 12, 2013, 10:42 pm

    Sadly, this article is from 2011, look at the comment section. Not that it isn’t news worthy, just not as timely as it seems.

  • Mike the Gardener March 15, 2013, 2:33 pm

    We have a lot of local, smaller guys, that sell eggs. All word of mouth … it’s great.


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