Located between Belfast and Bar Harbor, Sedgwick, Maine has declared war on those who would regulate what its citizens can or cannot eat. In a historical proclamation, citizens of the small town unanimously voted to adopt the “Local Food and Community Self Governance Ordinance”.
In the Preamble it states that “We the People…. [of Sedgwick Maine] have the right to produce, process, sell, purchase and consume local foods thus promoting self-reliance, the preservation of family farms, and local food traditions”. It goes on to say that the town has “faith in its citizens of their ability to educate themselves and make informed decisions”.
Imagine that! This small town with a population of about 1,025 people has taken a stand and said to the entire Country that they will decide for their selves what they will eat and in what manner they will make those choices.
Sedgwick tells federal and state government that its regulations on food production, processing, selling, and consuming impedes local food production and constitutes a usurpation of the towns citizens’ right to foods of their choice.
The ordinance aims to preserve the local way of life and promote family farms and sustainable agriculture practices. It even goes so far to name in the declaration “NON CORPORATE ENTITES” as not being part of their local food production. In other words, they want their food to come from local sources which are not produced by corporate agribusiness and at the same time enhance the economic stability and wealth of their community.
Sounds reasonable enough! The town is keeping its food dollars local which in turn food dollars earned are food dollars spent local. This is what the “eat local” movement embodies. And, it tells the regulators that no one has the right to restrict the peoples’ choice in the matter.
Sedgwick has respect for its people and allows them the freedom of choice of food. The ordinance will allow for farmers and consumers to strike their own bargain over food and decide privately about liability of production and consumption.
If a neighboring farm is producing meat or poultry the farmer can slaughter, process, and sell to their neighbors without the encumbering federal and state regulations that hamper local and sustainable food production. If desired, purchasing of raw milk fresh from the farm is allowed. Products made in home kitchens are exempt from federal and state licensing and inspection.
The Ordinance bodes well for small town and rural America and will encourage growth in local food production. It’s a win, win situation for all concerned and it goes a long way in saying that we can create community spirit without interference from those who would like to keep small farmers out of food production.
Is this legal? The Ordinance was adopted on March 5, 2011 and so far there have been no rumblings about challenges to it. However, we should expect to see government minions for corporate agribusiness to try to find some legal recourse because if the Ordinance is allowed to stand we could see the same thing happening across the country in small town America. In fact, the same ordinance is coming up for a vote in three other towns in Maine – Penobscot, Brooksville, and Blue Hill.
A movement is underway and Sedgwick, Maine is possibly the first town in history to declare its independence from the rest of the country’s industrialized food production. In passing the ordinance, the citizens have overwhelmingly said NO to corporate agribusiness’ dominance over their food.
It takes a village …. But a small town in Maine has taken a stand on its fundamental rights inherent under our constitution to choose its own food. Will more follow?