What is Food Sovereignty and why should we care about it?
The term was first coined in 1996 at the World Food Summit, and it addresses more than just the desire to be free from regulation regarding small-scale food production and person to person sales. Food Sovereignty is "rooted in the ongoing global struggles over control of food, land, water, and livelihoods"(1) and has recently become a serious topic in Maine, touching many involved in agriculture and food production, as well as consumers. Local, state, and the federal government compete for control throughout, and in 2017 the Maine State Legislature passed a law called "An Act To Recognize Local Control Regarding Food Systems." (2) "Food Systems" is defined as "community food system within a municipality that integrates food production, processing, consumption, direct producer-to-consumer exchanges, and other traditional food-ways to enhance the environmental, economic, social and nutritional health, and well-being of the municipality and its residents." (3)
The law does not automatically exempt every community from state regulation when it comes to food production and sales, but must be exercised which can happen when residents vote for Food Sovereignty to become part of town ordinance. It is important to understand that the law affects only person to person sales and would not exempt retail and wholesale establishments from compliance with state and federal rules and regulations. (3)
Since the Act to Recognize Local Control Regarding Food Systems came into law in 2017, 54 towns have enacted the right, including the town of Newfield in 2019. In addition, many towns in and around Sacopee Valley are considering the issue, including Porter, Parsonsfield, Brownfield, Fryeburg, Baldwin, and more. (4)
What: Sacopee Valley Food Sovereignty Movement group
When: May 4th, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Where: The Coffee Joint, 22 Maple St, Cornish, Maine
To understand further what this ordinance would mean for the community, some local residents from Porter and Cornish decided to organize Sacopee Valley Food Sovereignty Movement group. The group was created to facilitate "individuals who live in the Sacopee Valley to gather, share information and ideas, and support each other and our towns to make changes in our local policies, increase community engagement, educate, share resources, support populations in need within our community, and re energize the local food economy". (5)
The group's first open discussion will be held at the Coffee Joint on May 4th, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. All are welcome to join, share, and bring more information to learn how Food Sovereignty could impact our local population, farmers, and food producers.
You can follow the group on Facebook here.
(1) What is Food Sovereignty, http://usfoodsovereigntyalliance.org/what-is-food-sovereignty/
(2) Food Federalism: States, Local Governments, and the Fight for Food Sovereignty Sarah B. Schindler, University of Maine School of Law, 2018 https://digitalcommons.mainelaw.maine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1107&context=faculty-publications
(3) Sec. 1. 7-A MRSA §101, sub-§2-B https://legislature.maine.gov/legis/bills/getPDF.asp?paper=SP0242&item=6&snum=128
(4) LocalFoodRules.org Mapping Food Sovereignty http://localfoodrules.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/FoodSovereigntyMaineAll-1.pdf