Food Sovereignty in Maine

Several Maine towns, following the bold move by Sedgewick, have declared “food sovereignty” laws, which gives them the “right to produce and sell local foods of their choosing, without the oversight of State or federal regulation.”

The four page ordinance from Sedgewick, which can be read in its entirety here, declares:

Producers or processors of local foods in the Town of Sedgwick are exempt from licensure and inspection provided that the transaction is only between the producer or processor and a patron when the food is sold for home consumption. This includes any producer or processor who sells his or her products at farmers’ markets or roadside stands; sells his or her products through farm-based sales directly to a patron; or delivers his or her products directly to patrons.

This feels like a big deal for both communities and the local food movement. The ordinance would allow sellers and buyers to enter into agreements that override Federal regulation for local food transactions.

Wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Portland, Ore. begins to pass laws similar to the ones in Maine.

On the other hand, National food safety laws exist for a reason and just because someone is a small farmer/producer doesn’t necessarily make them ethical. Take, for example, the case of the Estrella Family Creamery, a highly regarded artisanal cheesmaker in Washington State that was shut down last fall by the FDA for unsanitary practices and presence of listeria in their products.

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