This is a repost from my favorite farmer: Joel Salatin
Blog: Musings From the Lunatic Farmer
I would also have been speechless at the response to his question at that California conference!
I’d love to hear what y’all think, too. 🙂
Second Amendment for Food
A ballot initiative you may not have heard about in Maine late Tuesday created unprecedented freedom for voluntary food commerce. This first-of-its kind constitutional amendment does what the U.S. Bill of Rights failed to do: guarantee citizens the right to choose their food.
The measure added language to the state constitution providing that individuals have a “natural, inherent, and unalienable right to food, including the right to save and exchange seeds and the right to grow, raise, harvest, produce, and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health, and well-being, as long as an individual does not commit trespassing, theft, poaching, or other abuses of private property rights, public lands, or natural resources in the harvesting, production, or acquisition of food.”
What this does is give the individual legal standing to sue any entity–including a government entity–that stands in their way of acquiring the food of their choice from the source of their choice. This language has been championed by the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund for years and it’s truly wonderful to see that a state has finally adopted it into its constitution.
Both the Farm Bureau Federation (you know, that outfit that says it’s a friend of farmers?) and the Maine Dairy lobby fought aggressively against it, charging that it would undermine food safety. That’s always the argument, that choice is too risky. Somebody might get bad milk, rotten chicken, or spoiled porridge. Yes, that’s possible, but it’s also possible they’ll be able to get better milk, better chicken, and better porridge than heretofore available due to burdensome government regulations.
I’m thrilled over this development and anticipate Maine now leading the nation in local food commerce. It’ll be interesting to see if the federal government attacks the state like it did with the Food Sovereignty Act several years ago. At that time, the federal government said that if the state didn’t rescind that freedom, it would pull all inspection from the state and nothing would be able to move outside state lines. Maine buckled.
Let’s hope Maine holds firm this time around because the same opposition is still very much in power, both at the industry level and the bureaucratic level. Lest you think this is all academic, let me relate a quick story. Several years ago I was speaking at a college in California and had about 300 people in a lecture hall. I asked them “how many of you think that a government food safety official should inspect carrots and beets harvested from your own garden before you can eat them?” One-third of the hands went up. I’ll never forget the moment. I literally was speechless (that’s a big deal for me) for a bit, trying to metabolize this reality.
Are you in agreement with what Maine just did, or do you think this will fill the hospitals with folks suffering from tainted food?