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