With the increased popularity of Community Gardens and Farmers Markets does your Community need a Food Independence Ordinance?
A friend from down the road, Ed S. sent me this link the other day from an Irish website that was actually reporting on an American town in Maine. “Sedgwick, Maine has done what no other town in the United States has done. The town unanimously passed an ordinance giving its citizens the right “to produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing.” This includes raw milk, locally slaughtered meats, and just about anything else you can imagine. It’s also a decided bucking of state and federal laws.”
The gist of it is that regulations requiring inspections, licenses and some sort of Federal or State control has been ruled out by this little town in Maine. It allows it’s citizens to work together in buying and selling a food or dairy product without liability hanging over their heads!
Here’s what the ordinance says:
“Patrons purchasing food for home consumption may enter into private agreements with those producers or processors of local foods to waive any liability for the consumption of that food. Producers or processors of local foods shall be exempt from licensure and inspection requirements for that food as long as those agreements are in effect.” Imagine that–buyer and seller can agree to cut out the lawyers. That’s almost un-American, isn’t it?
What are we used to?
We are Supermarket (Supermercado) people. The urbanites, believe that all that is provided to us comes from the big box store down on the corner of Main and Broadway (Fictional Street Names!). Years ago, it was independent shops that our parents shopped at and maybe some of the baby boomer readers can remember as well. There was a butcher shop, a vegetable shop, a dry goods market, a liquor store, and a florist. The connection to the ground was definitely there. Albeit once or twice removed.
In the rural areas you were definitely closer to the source. Your neighbor provided beef or pork, another had market gardens etc. etc. etc. Even now this occurs to a few lucky people outside the city limits. But with the large mechanized farms this is becoming rarer and rarer!
So How Does Your State Govern the Purchase of Local Food Items?
After reading about Sedgwick Maine, I started to wonder “what really are the laws governing the sale of food or food items in my state.?” So I looked it up. What Arizona primarily allows are Baked Goods and Candies to be sold by cottage industries. You still need to pay a 20 dollar fee, and you must stick with baked goods and candies! No more buying home made tamales when they come by your door!
Arizona Food Laws are convoluted but they do govern what we can sell.
What about farmers markets?
If you want to learn about how to set up a Farmers Market, the University of Arizona developed the following white paper that provides good direction on how to get started.
Keep growing vegetable and selling them locally. Arizona might not be the best place for dairy products (gets too hot!) but we can certainly grow veges!
I realize that the State is trying to protect it’s citizens from health issues associated with buying foods from unapproved and potentially dangerous sources, but there should be an element of buyer beware when it comes to a lot of products. Please don’t eat rotten eggs, they will make you sick. If your vegetable is mostly rotten…please don’t buy it. Common sense should come into play in most instances. In the meantime…Keep growing!
BUT DON’T FORGET TO PAY TAX ON YOUR PROFITS!