Posts Tagged ‘locavore’

Food Sovereignty is Now the Law of the Land in Maine

Heather and Bonnie, among many others, at one of our events during the long struggle to reach this day!

On June 16th at 10 am in the morning, Gov. LePage signed LD 725, an Act to Recognize Local Control Regarding Food Systems, it now becomes a law in the state of Maine!

I sit at my computer with tears of joy running down my face. This has been a six year struggle against the corporate food monopolies to protect and enhance the traditional food-ways in our state. The law takes effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns this session.   

We at Food for Maine’s Future and Local Food RULES encourage towns that may have been fence-sitting to get out and pass the Local Food and Community Self Governance Ordinance. Let us know if you are working on that or thinking about doing it, give your town officials the good news!  If you know people who might be interested in other towns, encourage them.  We are prepared to help people get it done.

The vote in the Senate was unanimous. Not so much in the House. Check out the roll call results here: <;  And, if you have a mind to, drop a note to the governor and thank him for signing this, oh so important, bill.

Quoting Bonnie Preston’s email. “Thank you to the sponsor, Sen. Troy Jackson for introducing it and guiding it through the process; as Minority Leader in the Senate, it was work on top of a very busy session and he gave us more time than we had expected.  Co-sponsors Rep. Michelle Dunphy, Rep. Craig Hickman, Sen. Brian Langley, Rep. John Martin, Sen. David Miramant , and Rep. Ralph Chapman also deserve thanks.  We could not have done this without Rep. Hickman, who was a knowledgeable, inspiring and persuasive leader whose own bills over the years moved the work along; Rep. Chapman, an astute legislator who gave us tremendous support and encouragement and met with us several times to teach us strategy and process and sponsored LD 835, which we still hope to see pass; and Sen. Langley, who proved to be an excellent listener as we met with him on an issue he had not been familiar with and was especially helpful in bringing the Republican legislators into the fold.  The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund paid for the lobbyists we had the last two sessions, Hillary Lister and Betsy Garrold.  (They did not get $500.00 a day (or whatever) like the corporate lobbyists!)  There were countless people in the [20] towns who passed the ordinance, doing amazing work.  And of course there were all of you, responding to our near constant pleas to write to people.  Grassroots democracy at its best!”

Below is the bill as it will be entered into the law books.






S.P. 242 – L.D. 725
An Act To Recognize Local Control Regarding Food Systems

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:

Sec. 1. 7-A MRSA §101, sub-§2-B is enacted to read:

2-B. Local food system. “Local food system” means a community food system within a municipality that integrates food production, processing, consumption, direct producer-to-consumer exchanges and other traditional foodways to enhance the environmental, economic, social and nutritional health and well-being of the municipality and its residents.

Sec. 2. 7-A MRSA §201-B is enacted to read: §201-B. Local authority to regulate food systems

Pursuant to the home rule authority granted to municipalities by Title 30-A, section 3001 and by the Constitution of Maine, Article VIII, Part Second, and pursuant to section 201-A, and notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, a municipal government may regulate by ordinance local food systems, and the State shall recognize such ordinances.

An ordinance adopted by a municipality pursuant to this section must apply only to food or food products that are grown, produced or processed by individuals within that municipality who sell directly to consumers.

Any food or food products grown, produced or processed in the municipality intended for wholesale or retail distribution outside of the municipality must be grown, produced or processed in compliance with all applicable state and federal laws, rules and regulations.

[With thanks to Bonnie Preston whose email I freely plagiarized to write this post. Bonnie is one of our most stalwart volunteers and has put in more hours than you can count on this issue. Especially thanks to Heather Retberg, our farmer leader, who, I swear to the Goddess, does not sleep. And to her farming and life partner Phil for sparing her to us for this fight.]

Heather and Phil Retberg at their farm, Quill’s End, in Penobscot, Maine.


From the The Complete Patient: They Wonder Why People are Pissed?

More shenanigans in Michigan, notice the mention of Mark Baker (of Baker’s Green Acres)  seems they are going after his friends now.

by:David GumpertSat, 07/19/2014 – 20:11posted in:
Regulation,Food Club,Raw Milk,Resistance,

Jenny Samuelson was all set to do the deal dictated by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development: Dispose of nearly $5,000 worth of raw milk, cream, butter, eggs, and cheese. Under MDARD supervision, she was to bring the 250 gallons of milk to a neighboring farm, where the farmer would use it for fertilizer. The 10 gallons of cream and 20 pounds of butter would go in a dumpster. And the 100 dozen beautiful unwashed and unrefrigerated pastured eggs (raised without soy feed) would be smashed and turned into compost.

She would also discontinue all deliveries of cream and butter to herdshare members, despite their serious unhappiness about losing access to these foods.

But then the MDARD agents canceled out on the Saturday morning arrangements whereby they would observe the disposal of the food. They then said they would show up Monday morning. So she waits, and ponders her options.

Samuelson is pretty upset, as you might expect. She was trying to be an obedient citizen so she could have unfettered access to her refrigerated delivery truck and resume deliveries of raw milk. She had made the hard decision to go against what she feels is right and just, because she didn’t want to risk any further interruption in deliveries for the more than 600 families around Michigan that depend on her food.

She is still smarting from last Tuesday’s raid on her delivery truck in Washington Township, which saw agents from MDARD swarm aboard the delivery truck while it was stopped in a private parking lot, with her brother as driver. She thinks they had been following her and the truck for a number of day beforehand, and picked last Tuesday morning to do the raid instead of when she was driving, because they knew her brother likely wouldn’t know to demand a search warrant, and the presence of the local sheriff or police before being allowed (or possibly not being allowed) to take people’s food.

They told her brother it would take an hour to look through the Co-Op’s inventory—instead it took six-and-a-half hours.

Later, the MDARD told her she was prohibited from giving the food to a farmer as feed for his pigs, since she didn’t have a feed license.

Perhaps most significant, she doesn’t feel they had the right to prevent the food from being delivered in the first place. “They didn’t seize my products,” she says. “They seized the consumers’ products.”

Samuelson has been doing this drill for more than six years–during which time her co-op has grown from 20 members to more than 600– and knows the rules well. She says the cream and butter the MDARD was supposedly targeting were produced separately by the farmer from milk the members obtained as herdshare members, under contract to them individually. She also faults the special policy group that agreed with the MDARD last year in its policy statement that sanctioned herdshares for raw milk, but disallowed other raw dairy products. “I wasn’t allowed to have a voice in that,” despite her requests.

She wanted to feed the condemned food to Mark Baker’s pigs, or some other pigs, but state ag reps had told her she couldn’t feed the food to farm animals because she didn’t have a feed permit, and insisted the food be destroyed with MDARD agents watching.

Baker is the Michigan farmer who continued raising pigs the state considered wild, and he got the state to agree that he could continue raising the pigs after he sued the the Department of Natural Resources. He had a planned “Constitution Hall” program on slate for Sunday, at which Richard Mack, the former Arizona sheriff, will be discussing how the U.S. has veered from upholding its Constitution. Baker will be talking about his plans to run for Missaukee County sheriff. And there will be a pig roast for the many attendees expected.

Samuelson is going to have some very unhappy members based on her decision to refrain from delivering the raw cream and butter. “They are very pissed,” she says.

She is encouraging them to sue the state much like Mark Baker did. In the meantime, she is encouraging them to flood the MDARD with calls. Here are people she urges her members and sympathizers to contact:

Kevin Besey, director of the Food and Dairy Division, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (phone 517-582-1156 or e-mail

Tim Slawinski, Compliance Manager, Food and Dairy Division (phone 517-420-5364 or e-mail

In a letter to her members Saturday, she said: “The only way we can get cream and butter back is to WIN this war! You the people can do it!”

(This post was revised on Sunday, July 20, to update the situation.)

Love Your Soil and Eat More Beans!

As I think more and more about local eating and folk-food patterns the radio seems to be talking to me (no I am not having auditory hallucinations).   This morning on Morning Edition the host was talking to a chef who has written a book called “Third Plate.”  I need to read it to have a good grasp of what he is saying but the bit I heard from him was encouraging.   Kind of a “Diet for a Small Planet” ethos re-imagined for the foodie culture.   Listen to it yourself and see what you think.

Then later in the morning on my local NPR station they were talking to a panel about the Maine Food Strategy  2014 Consumer Survey Report which had appeared in my inbox this week.   Now I was not thrilled with some of the layout of the graphs.   I thought bar graphs would have done a better job of conveying the message than pie charts but if you dig down there is some interesting information.    Anyhow, here is the link to the report and the link to the radio show.

And finally a New York Times piece about “What Farm-to-Table Got Wrong.”   About the need for real sustainability right down to the basics.   Right down to the soil!

Bioregion, Sweet, Bioregion

We talk so much about local food and its importance to environmental, food sovereignty and health concerns.   I am reading this book about permaculture and it brought up an interesting point that is a slightly different way of thinking about this issue.  Here is the quote:

“A bioregion is defined as any area,small or large, that has a clearly recognizable identity.  Many factors contribute to this identity: geological structure, soil, climate, types of vegetation, history, culture, ‘atmosphere,’ and magnetic and spiritual forces.  Some of the world’s most notable bioregions can boast well-known ‘regional’ writers, painters, musicians, and craftspeople who, its human inhabitants.  Among outstanding examples of links between art and earth are the novels of Hardy and the landscape of ‘Wessex,’ the paintings of Constable and the landscape of the Essex-Suffolk border, and the operas of Janacek and the Moravian forest.  In many parts of Europe, Asia, and Latin America, village communities can be recognized by the costumes, songs and dances of their inhabitants, many of them inspired by features of the environment.  The patterns of plants of permaculture plots, forest gardens, and other forms of land-working should also reflect the character of their bioregions.  Those who work them are most likely to benefit if their diets consist largely of the plants that contain the minerals and other nutrients peculiar to local soils, and if they subsist as much as possible on local resources, thereby giving jobs to their neighbors and minimizing the polluting effects of mechanical transport.  Such people—rooted or ‘hefted,’ to use the Scottish term, to their bioregional soils—enjoy a sense of psychological security unknown to restless city-dwellers.

Both the Highland clan and the Native American tribe are examples of bioregional organisms.  The relationship of a member of a clan or tribe to her or his duthus (the Gaelic term for communal land) has an intense and poignantly beautiful quality.  The essence of Amerindian religion lies in the effort to unify with soil, the human psyche with the rocks and rivers, the trees and wildlife of the natural environment.”
Robert Hart in “Forest Gardening: Cultivating an Edible Landscape.”  1991 Chelsea Green Publishing,  pages 14-15.

Local Food Council Talks with its Shovels

Prize Winning Corn at the Common Ground Fair

Prize Winning Corn at the Common Ground Fair

Yesterday I went to a meeting of the Waldo County Local Food Council.   I went with trepidation, really afraid that it was going to be just one more meeting with no real action.


But this was a collection of women who are not interested in meeting for the sake of meeting and who really do want to address the issues that stand between local farmers and the people who want to eat their food.


As proof of this one of the women in the group spontaneously created a Facebook page today and she also linked to a TED talk by Ron Finley a garden activist from South Central Los Angeles.


You remember South Central.   I kind of half heartedly blogged about it quite awhile ago, clearly I was not as angry about this tragedy as I should have been. That’s the place where they padlocked and bulldozed the community garden because …..well no one is really sure why it was done except that a selfish land owner was not getting any money for it’s use so the use must be a bad idea.   But one of the many things Ron says may be the closest to the truth of why planting in public and other unused spaces is considered so subversive.   He says “Growing your own food is like printing your own money.”   And you know how the government feels about us printing our own money.    Remember, remember, remember.   Kissinger said “he who controls the food, controls the people.”


But perhaps my favorite line from this TED talk is when Ron says “ if you want to meet with me don’t call me to come sit in some cushy chairs and talk.   Come to my garden with your shovel.”    I am very hopeful that the WCLFC will turn out to be a group that does it’s talking with its shovels.

Listeria and Food Safety in the News

100_2115Once again the CDC has to step in when the USDA and FDA fail to “protect” us from food borne illness.    A Listeria outbreak linked to Crave Brothers Les Freres cheese is in the news.    This irritates the hell out of me for many reasons.   I feel badly for the victims and I feel angry that, once again, the food consumers of America are being hoodwinked and bamboozled into believing that these government agencies truly can keep our food supply safe.


The argument we heard again and again at the Maine State Legislature this session; when we were testifying about local food ordinances, raw milk, on-farm poultry processing and other Local Food Rules bills; was this:  we have to have regulation because that is the ONLY way to keep people safe.


Yeah, just like the red, orange, yellow, green Homeland Security warnings kept us safe from the Boston and Newtown tragedies.    Come on folks.   Yes, regulation may, or may not, keep our food safer but there are other ways to accomplish the same goal.   Ways that are not mutually exclusive with regulations.   Go ahead and regulate the big guys.   Knowing that you may or may not succeed in keeping the food supply safe.   But let the little guys alone.   Again, if a farmer is selling her or his goods face-to-face with consumers the chance of the food being crappy or old or contaminated is very, very small.   Farmers who try to pull that will not have many customers so there will be fewer people poisoned.


Oh, and by the way, this is the wording on the ingredients page of the Crave Brothers website: “Cultured Pasteurized Whole Milk, Enzymes, Salt.”   Notice the word pasteurized.   This was not the dangerous RAW milk cheese that so many fear.   The cheese that caused one person to die and another to lose her baby was made from milk that was PASTEURIZED!   The ultimate in safety, right?   Or so we are led to believe.


Buyers beware.   That is the bottom line.   Be aware that the USDA and FDA have, as one of their main missions, keeping the consuming public comfortable with the safety of the general food supply.   They are concerned about food safety, yes, but they are also concerned with perpetuating the wobbly notion that, just because they are regulating and inspecting our food, it is ALWAYS safe.   Keeping the engine of the economy humming along with blissful ignorance.  Keeping the folks at Cargill, Monsanto and the other big agribusinesses happy contributors to political campaigns by regulating and inspecting in the most superficial and least onerous manner possible.


How safe do you feel now?

Control the Food

This is happening in Europe now but it is only a very short hope “across the pond” as they say.   Remember what the war criminal Henry Kissinger said:

Kissinger: “Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.”

Virtually all plants, vegetable seeds and gardeners to eventually be registered by government    

Most heirloom seeds to be criminalized

A new law proposed by the European Commission would make it illegal to “grow, reproduce or trade” any vegetable seeds that have not been “tested, approved and accepted” by a new EU bureaucracy named the “EU Plant Variety Agency.”
It’s called the Plant Reproductive Material Law, and it attempts to put the government in charge of virtually all plants and seeds. Home gardeners who grow their own plants from non-regulated seeds would be considered criminals under this law.
“This law will immediately stop the professional development of vegetable varieties for home gardeners, organic growers, and small-scale market farmers,” said Ben Gabel, vegetable breeder and director of The Real Seed Catalogue. “Home gardeners have really different needs – for example they grow by hand, not machine, and can’t or don’t want to use such powerful chemical sprays. There’s no way to register the varieties suitable for home use as they don’t meet the strict criteria of the Plant Variety Agency, which is only concerned about approving the sort of seed used by industrial farmers.”

Learn more: