You Wanted to be a Farmer- A Discussion of Scale

Please watch this new video from Food for Maine’s Future:

You Wanted to be a Farmer

This video tells the story of farmer Dan Brown who is being sued by the state of Maine for selling milk from one cow to his neighbors and long-time customers.  How does such a thing happen in Maine, you ask?  (hint: it has to do with corporate control )Watch the video, understand the issue, and then let’s plan a community meeting.  Spread the word, send a link to your friends. It’s time to take back our Constitutional rights before it’s too late!

We need real food safety!

We just returned home from the community forum in Brewer, Maine, where a group of concerned farmers and patrons gathered to discuss the local food ordinance and what the next steps are in regaining our basic rights and access to healthy local foods.  My main question, going into the forum, was “if we pass the ordinance, how will we ensure food safety at farmers markets and directly from our local farms?  If unregulated, how will local food be guaranteed not to make me sick?

Less than an hour into the discussion, I knew all I needed to know.  The facts and statistics are clear: 

#1 There is no guarantee, ever. Farms that are licensed and inspected continue to be the source of widespread, food-borne illness across the country.  The expensive food-safety  measures employed using our tax money are simply inadequate to prevent consumers from getting sick and dying.  When a farm is inspected, it may not be inspected again for another 3 or 4 years…its kind of like a bed check at a summer camp: just be in your bed when the staff comes around, and then do whatever once they leave….for three years!

#2 More regulations will not solve the problem of food safety.  Inspection and regulation cannot test the food for “safety,” but it simply evaluates the food handling procedures.  “Regulation” is actually much less technical or complicated than you might think…it just comes with a big price tag.   If regulation was working, people wouldn’t keep getting food-borne illness, and we wouldn’t be seeing these huge meat and produce recalls in the news.  Soon, we will be hearing about the need for more corporate-sponsored government intervention to create better food safety procedures, and we know what this means:  higher levels of food irradiation, more chemical residues in your food, more artificial ripening and obscene meat processing practices, genetically modified foods, and less choices about what Americans can eat.  This is not a path we want, or can afford, to continue on.

#3 A Local Food Ordinance will promote real food safety.  Some folks say, “just because I can meet my local farmer has nothing to do with food safety.”  Wrong.  I returned home  today only to read about the beef recall from Hannaford.  There were many alarming things about the articles I read.  Consider this quote: ” Although the USDA pointed to Hannaford’s record-keeping as an impediment to the investigation, Norton said the grocery chain is ‘following industry practice and standards in terms of records’.”  The problem being referred to here is that the source of the contaminated meat cannot be traced, due to the record-keeping practices, but the record- keeping practices are consistent with industry practice and standards.  What exactly does this mean?  Industry “standards” not only cannot protect you from sickness and death, but they also cannot trace the source of the sickness.  The problems in industrial farming are manifold.  One simple and inspiring solution is to know where your food comes from, which, in this case, Hannaford cannot figure out.  One guarantee I can give you is that your local farmer is not farming to get rich, and she or he certainly doesn’t want anyone in the community to get sick from eating their food (for both personal and financial reasons). Real food security exists in knowing your farmer, and personally inspecting their farm (if you can’t, don’t buy the food!)

#4 A Local Food Ordinance is not a perfect solution.  But it’s the beginning of a very, very necessary conversation.  And it’s a legal process of redress in accordance with our constitutional rights.  Actually, it’s a restatement of rights we already have, we just need to remind our federal government that we understand the meaning of  The Constitution of the United States of America, as well as the Maine Constitution.  Real security and safety can be found by returning to the roots of what our country was founded on.

There are several articles about the Hannaford beef recall.  We have no particular criticism of Hannaford- its a standard grocery store…this simply is one among thousands of industrial farm-food recalls that poison our communities, and we want a solution that represents real food safety, not another broken government system.  That’s why we want local rules for local food.

Community Forum on Local Food Ordinance

 COMMUNITY FORUM ON LOCAL FOOD ORDINANCE TO BE HELD IN BREWER

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 17 @10am

On Saturday, December 17 a community forum will be held at the Solidarity Center in Brewer to discuss the Local Food & Community Self-Governance Ordinance passed in five Maine towns earlier this year. The event is open to the public and will begin at 10am with a presentation by Heather Retberg of Quill’s End Farm in Penobscot who will give the history behind the ordinance and share what its passage has meant to her family farm. Following the presentation will be an open discussion about the issues addressed in the ordinance, the response from the Maine Department of Agriculture, and other issues of concern to farmers, food producers, farm patrons, and the general public. The discussion will be moderated by Penny Jordan of Jordan’s Farm in Cape Elizabeth. A potluck lunch will follow at 12:30pm. The Solidarity Center is home to Food AND Medicine and the Eastern Maine Labor Council and is located at 20 Ivers Street in Brewer. This event is sponsored by Food for Maine’s Future. Please RSVP by emailing Community Forum. For more information call 244-0908.

If you are interested in arranging a carpool with us from the Oxford Hills area to this event, please email us at: growmainefood.farms@gmail.com

Farm Raids and the Feds… it’s no joke, friends!

Some folks may try to tell you that a local food ordinance is unnecessary for your town, and that there is no real threat to our food security or our constitutional rights.  If you find yourself in such a conversation, please take the moment to explain to them about the many farm raids that have been happening across the country, and in particular the picnic dinner in Nevada that was shut down.  Also remind them that  little kids’ lemonade stands are being shut down* across the country.   Ask them if they have heard about the members of a food charity that were arrested for feeding the hungry.  Ask them how they feel about their tax money going to a year-long Federal sting operation to arrest an Amish man for selling raw milk to meet consumers demand.  Now that they are interested and ready to learn more, you can summarize this letter from Chellie Pingree to Commissioner Hamburg, discussing her concerns about FDA regulations and the use of our taxpayer money. And lastly, give them the address to this website so they can join with our efforts!  Now kick back and treat yourself to some local food…you deserve the best!

*the article will appear after you endure the advertisement, and it’s worth the wait!

Farmer being sued by the state in Sedgewick, Maine

Please read about the current situation in Sedgewick.  This is a critical case in the fight to reclaim our constitutional rights.  Tomorrow we are driving from Oxford Hills to Blue Hill, where we will meet with Bob St. Peter, interview some folks in the area, and bring home some useful information about passing a local food ordinance in our towns.  Please reply to this post if you have any specific questions you want us to ask in our interviews.

We Are All Farmer Brown

Local Food Rules

Getting Organized

Ok so Halloween is over- why do things still seem kinda spooky?

Why is food so expensive? Why is local, organic food even more expensive, while hotdogs and soda are still pretty cheap?

Do you care about preserving the Maine tradition of small family farming, independence, and the beautiful natural and pastoral environment around us?  Do you want your kids and grandkids to be able to smell, taste, and eat real food?  Are you also concerned about the unhealthy, genetically-modified and artificially-ripened foods that are becoming all too common?

Basic rights and access to affordable, healthy, local foods are increasingly being threatened by government policy and pressure from Industrial Agriculture corporations.  Mainers need to send a message to policymakers that we care about our future and our children’s future. They need to know that we are aware that our basic rights for family farms and local food  are being obstructed by over-regulation, subsidies for industrial farming, seed and food patenting, Genetically Engineered crops (GMO), fear-mongering about food-safety, and policies that are shutting down our access to local foods.

Please join the community of concerned farmers, consumers, youth, and businesses as we work to pass a local food ordinance in our towns of the Oxford Hills area.  We are not affiliated with any specific group, but are the community voice of concerned Mainers.  Please join us and speak up about protecting our health, rights, and future.

Send an email to growmainefood.farms@gmail.com  if you would like to learn more and get involved.

local food ordinance

Here is the template for the Local Food Ordinance that has already passed in 5 towns in Maine: Blue Hill, Penobscot, Trenton, Hope, and Sedgewick.

This template is open for use in other towns wishing to pass this ordinance.  We plan to use the same template in our towns in the Oxford Hills area.  Please take a moment to read it over and comment.