Food Sovereignty

March 16, 2013

386505_10200090132601129_92609043_nFood sovereignty. As of three weeks ago, if someone said that to me, I would not know what they were talking about. Thankfully, I went to a grassroots activism workshop and listened to a wonderful woman talk on this subject and how it pertains to Maine and quite honestly, I think most of America.

Deborah Evans of Bagaduce Farms in Brooksville, Maine gave a wonderful and insightful talk on what food sovereignty means.  Not just to small farmers but to all of us.   I admit I am not much of a farmer. In fact, I just made my first attempt at a raised bed vegetable garden this past year.

But what of preserving our time honored traditions that have been a part of our lives going back generations, growing our own food and sharing it with family and friends?   How would you feel if the Dept. of Health came to our local firehouse public supper fundraiser and shut it down?  Would you believe me or would you say I was over reacting?  I can assure you I am not.  It is already happening around America.  Land of the free, remember that phrase?   The topic of food sovereignty is about freedom.   That’s right, our freedom!  Freedom to grow, raise, cook, bake, feed, and nourish our families and friends with time honored traditions.  Traditions that include Grange Halls, church suppers, PTA fundraisers, Mason Halls, school children’s bake sales, etc… the list could go on.  All of these are at great risk of disappearing.

Why, do you ask?  Because of the federal overreach of government power.  All of these activities are happening against federal law.  February 9, 2013 at the  28th Wild Game Dinner at the Open Door Baptist Church of New Woodstock in New York,  the Madison County Health Department decided to show up and shut the whole thing down.  The woman from the Health Department was overheard saying that “all the dishes were cooked at homes not knowing for sure if they were cooked according to health codes and therefore putting the public at risk since this event was advertised to the public to come partake in.”

A very similar case in Nevada happened on Quail Hollow Farm on the night of the Farm To Fork Dinner on October 21, 2011.  A Southern Nevada Health Inspector showed up the night of the dinner and forced them to destroy all the food.  They were not allowed to serve it to their guests.  All of the food was deemed unfit and she threatened police action against the owners of the farm and their guests if the did not only throw out all of the food but to make it even unfit to feed their pigs.   They were ordered to pour bleach on it. The health district justified this with several reasons that are all arguable but one. The meat that was provided did not come from a government approved source.   That they were limited to purchase, supply,  and even to consume only government approved (USDA certified) meats.   Even the vegetables prepared in advance had to be thrown out because they were cut and were then considered a “bio-hazard”.

In Shreveport, Louisiana,  The The Dept. of Health and Hospitals ordered the staff at the Shreveport Bossier Rescue Mission to throw away 1,600 pounds of venison that was donated by the group Hunters for the Hungry.   Hunters for the Hungry have been donating to the rescue mission since 1993.  Not only did they have to throw it away but they had to douse the meat with bleach because they didn’t want any wild animals to eat it either.  The rescue mission serves 200,000 meals a year without receiving  a single dime from the state or federal government.  The meat that was destroyed would have made at least 3,200 meals.

In 2011, after visiting a Farmer’s Market, the Dept. of Agriculture in the state of Maine sent out an email saying they spotted their first test case.  Dan Brown in Blue Hill, ME became the center of a major controversy in Maine for selling raw milk.  Despite the fact that no one that he sells raw milk to has ever gotten sick and no one has made a complaint against him the state filed a law suit.  Could the purpose of the law suit possibly be because Blue Hill has passed a Food Sovereignty Ordinance?  The Dept. of Agriculture has denied this claim but for most of us the evidence speaks for itself.

Stories like these are happening all around the country.  I know, Maine is pretty inconsequential when you are comparing it to all of America.  We are no big powerhouse politically. We only have 43 people per square mile.   What do you think of when you think of Maine?  Agriculture, plain and simple:  trees,  lobster, blueberries, potatoes, maple syrup, and apples to name a few.  There are more small towns than urban areas.   Having said all that, I believe a movement has begun.  Nine towns in Maine have currently implemented a Food Sovereignty Ordinance with more towns considering it.  The ordinances are cushioned in constitutional language maintaining  that people have the “fundamental and inalienable right to govern themselves.”  It also is a  warning against other government agencies attempting to usurp the local ordinance.  Not only that but two bills are being presented in Augusta that support Food Sovereignty.

The first bill is LD 691, known as the Intrastate Commerce Act:  Act To Prohibit Enforcement of Federal Laws Regulating Commerce in Violation of the Constitution of the United States.   This bill prohibits a federal or state official, agent or employee from enforcing a federal act, order, law, statute, rule or regulation that attempts to regulate goods grown, manufactured or made in this state that are legal under state law for trade within Maine.  The public hearing  for this is  Monday, March 18th, 10 am, Rm 208 Cross Building in Augusta.

The second bill is LD 475, An Act To Increase Food Sovereignty in Local Communities.   This bill has a three fold purpose.  First, to preserve the ability of local communities to produce, process, sell, purchase and consume local foods.  Secondly, to ensure the preservation of family farms.  Thirdly, to enhance the economic, environmental and social wealth of local communities by supporting family farms and sustainable agricultural practices and promoting the unimpeded ability of individuals, families and other entities to process or prepare food.  The public hearing for this one is Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 1:00 pm, Cross Building, Room 214.

This is great news for Maine.  Thanks to the hard work and dedication from people like Deborah Evens, Maine has a great opportunity to declare sovereignty in regards to local foods.  This will make a statement to the federal government that we have a constitutional right to freedom of choice.  The freedom to choose how we feed and nourish our families.  It is a God given right since the beginning of man.  Why, since the last 50 years, do we think we need federal oversight to protect us from thousands of years of doing just the same without a federal government under the guise of “protecting us” and telling what we can and can’t eat?  This very same federal government who condones GMO foods and allows it to be served to us with out our knowing but will sue a local farmer for mislabeling?  Who freely allows pesticides and chemicals used on our foods but is trying to protect us from organic wholesome food?  The FDA is now looking to consider redefining the very definition of “milk” because the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) have filed a petition asking  to secretly include chemical sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose as milk.    All of this defies common sense!

This isn’t just good news for farmers.  It’s also good news for our communities who rely on food events for fundraisers.   This gives these time honored traditions of friends and neighbors cementing commonality,  relationships, and communing with one another through meals created in our own kitchens.

Remember what Henry Kissinger said “Control oil and you control nations, control food and you control the people.”

Small town American values are what gives America her backbone.   We must preserve these traditions and values.  We must remember that we are 50 sovereign United States.  The way to fight back against this nationalism and the unconstitutional overbearing federal government power is to keep local control.  That is our key to preserving our freedoms.


Maria Solorzano223581_10151247651786389_33719775_n



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