Food Freedom

Dave Killion — April 1, 2013

There is no law that prevents you from drinking a bottle of whiskey every day, nor smoking yourself into lung cancer, nor loaning your retirement fund to your prodigal brother-in-law, nor having as much anonymous, unprotected sex with sketchy strangers as you please. In fact, every day people make decisions with potentially devastating, even life-threatening, consequences. But just try to buy raw milk, or meat that has been processed on the same local farm on which the animal was raised, and nanny will spank. Well, some towns in Maine have had enough

“Voters here made their town the fifth in Hancock County to pass a local food sovereignty ordinance that thumbs its nose at state and federal regulations for direct-to-consumer sales of prepared foods and farm products.

In a referendum election on March 4, residents voted 112-64 to approve the “Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance,” which states that producers or processors of local foods are “exempt from licensure and inspection,” so long as the food is sold directly by the producer to a consumer.

The ordinance also makes it “unlawful for any law or regulation adopted by the state or federal government to interfere with the rights organized by this ordinance.”

Naturally, the state government has declared that the legislation has no weight, despite similar ordinances having previously passed in eight other Maine towns, but I suspect state legislators might be feeling some pressure. Furthermore, such legislation certainly must embolden citizens to disregard state regulations in such numbers that enforcement against consumers could prove impossible. Producers could be a different story, but if the movement keeps its momentum, perhaps even they can escape prosecution.

If only such ordinances could find their way in front of some Canadian municipal governments, perhaps Canadians could achieve the same sort of progress. This looks like another job for the Free Province Project.

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