Hello dear readers… I’m about to share with you a topic that is the nearest and dearest to my heart — food sovereignty. And, ultimately what I mean by this is NOURISHMENT. After being raised in a “food desert” of sorts in small Mississippi town, it took me years to recover my health and well-being. Why? Well, because of the affect that agro-industrial, petroleum-subsidized, anti-nutrient, land-pillaging complex we flippantly call farming had on my health. I was raised in a town where cancer was seen as a norm and funerals were as frequent as birthday parties.
So, what does food sovereignty have to do with nourishment? Everything. Please watch this video by Maine’s local public broadcasting network on four towns that have recently claimed the rights and responsibilities of being a food sovereign town (please watch before moving on).
To me, food sovereignty allows food and nutrients from your local soil to get to your system the cleanest and fastest way possible. With thousands of years of human experience of growing and preparing food — I think we can handle this without regulation from the federal, state, or county level. This is why nourishment has everything to do with food sovereignty. Beyond that it has to do with community resiliency, economics of scale, women’s rights (yes, even that), and humane treatment of animals. The closer we get to the source of our food and the more a community gets involved with its food production, the more balanced a culture will be.
Here is a sample of the simple yet elegant wording of the local food sovereignty ordinance:
“We the People of the Town of (name of town) , (name of county) County, 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. We recognize that family farms, sustainable agricultural practices, and food processing by individuals, families and non-corporate entities offers stability to our rural way of life by enhancing the economic, environmental and social wealth of our community. As such, our right to a local food system requires us to assert our inherent right to self-government.
We recognize the authority to protect that right as belonging to the Town of (name of town) . We have faith in our citizens’ ability to educate themselves and make informed decisions. We hold that federal and state regulations impede local food production and constitute a usurpation of our citizens’ right to foods of their choice. We support food that fundamentally respects human dignity and health, nourishes individuals and the community, and sustains producers, processors and the environment. We are therefore duty bound under the Constitution of the State of Maine to protect and promote unimpeded access to local foods.”
To me, with chronic levels of nutrient deprivation in the US, ordinances and actions such as this are very important. These actions allow communities to self-govern and move food and nutrients quickly and effectively between farmer/gardener/producer and consumer. And, it seems that towns across the US (especially those with any remnant of small farm culture) are looking to these communities as positive precedents for them to follow.
I wonder… With the thousands of pounds of beef recalled in the US and with things like pink slime (oh, McDonald’s and your cheap-ass bottom-line), how is it that raw milk and raw milk products are having a hard time getting into people’s bellies in the US? Raw milk used to be regularly ingested by women in Europe if one was to become pregnant (pastured cows, of course!). Why? Because the level of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, and K2) were very high in pastured milk and especially butter (highest levels in Spring and Fall). This ensured her fertility AND the healthy development of her baby.
After farming at Trout Lily Farm last year with my partner on his family’s land in North Carolina, issues of food sovereignty magnified in my life. It seemed that regulations that were being used to manage how food got to people were largely out-dated and irrelevant (or, only relevant to big-ag farms). For example, to have a qualified/inspected kitchen (to make value-added products), one needs to have hot water. Really!? Welcome to the 21st Century! The regulatory laws are ancient and, to tell you the truth, I think local groups of people can do better at regulating how food moves in their communities… The USDA is a creaking, old piece of metal machinery that no proper maintenance and lubrication will fix!
I think that the best method for local food system checks and balances is education and word-of-mouth. If people are educated on what healthy food is, they will know what to look for at the farmer’s market or farm stand. That’s why groups like the Weston A Price Foundation are so important! And, invariably, word will spread about the taste, color, and quality of a food product.
I hear too many stories about the EPA or the USDA cracking down on small, natural business owners or small farmers. Many times, these officials ask mundane questions and harass farmers. SOMETIMES, these officials know people are doing good work and offering a valuable product…and overlook the out-dated and/or biased regulations that they are to impose. These people are angels in the governmental system. Unfortunately, there are not many of them.
For those of you that love food, please pay attention to this topic. Please spread the word about food sovereignty. And, please support the four towns in Maine that voted for their local food self-governance ordinance. They are currently under “notice” by the state government for their actions.
And, support your local farmer’s market, local community garden, and farmers/wildcrafters/permaculturists. Look for food grown naturally in your area through these sites:
And, consider taking on the Locavore challenge! I suggest getting a small group of friends together and doing this so that you can support each other with food research, farm visits, and food preparation.