The town of Sedgwick recently became the first town in Maine (and perhaps the nation) to enact a local food ordinance. Penobscot followed suit this past weekend at their annual meeting. The ordinance passed at this year’s town meeting exempts local food producers from inspection and regulation by the state or federal governments.
The Republicans/Libertarians should love this! They are after all against government interference in our lives and for smaller government. So here it is: something we can all agree on. The progressives out there are happy to support small local industries and to know where their food is coming from and the conservatives see it as cutting government. Common ground!!
Personally I think it’s great idea. It is so important to “Know Your Farmer”. To know the true source of what you are putting in your body 3 or 4 or 5 times a day. Know the quality of the food and the value you are getting for your food dollar. Look your farmer in the face and understand exactly how hard he or she works and how much they all deserve to make a living at what they do. And on the flip side the farmer has to look you in the eye every time you buy from her or him and know that you are the judge of the quality products they provide. If the quality isn’t there the customers won’t be there either. We are all smart enough to make that decision for ourselves.
Word of the passage of this ordinance has hit the news and the blogosphere. The usual suspects are making noise about how dangerous this will be for the public health and indeed there is some risk involved. But all of life is risky and it is time we stopped infantilizing the entire population with excessive regulation. Protect those who need it and leave the rest of us to our own devices. In this age of ober information folks can know anything they want about any given subject. And the community grapevine, especially in rural areas, will make or break these food producers. If Jack down the road has fresh good tasting eggs and Jane up the hill is selling lesser quality eggs guess which one gets the local business.
And another plus for the more conservative amongst us: it promotes real food security. After all it’s much more difficult to tamper with a food chain that has only two links: you and your farmer. So I propose in the interest of national security that every town in Maine and elsewhere pass this ordinance or one very much like it.