by Kimberly Hartke
Hartke is Online

Please Unshackle the Farm Economy, Vote Yes for HP0263

a Commentary by Kimberly Hartke

A bill to promote agritourism, home kitchen entrepreneurship, and direct commerce between friends and neighbors is now before the Maine State legislature. Recently, the town of Sedgewick, Maine voted unanimously to allow unregulated direct sales between townspeople (here is a blog Dave Gumpert wrote about this food sovereignty initiative). Since then, several towns in Maine have voted on, and two have passed, food sovereignty acts. It seems there is a mini food revolution going on up there in the high Northeast.

This bill facilitates direct sales between Maine farmers and consumers. It allows people preparing food in their own homes to sell directly to consumers or to offer homemade food at certain events without being licensed as food establishments.

I heard yesterday that the Maine Cheesemakers Guild is wary of this bill and may not support it. Here is something that they should know, a quote sent to me from a Maine farmer through facebook:

” Please note that this Act is not for those who want to sell commercially, but for those who sell to informed end users. It recognizes that people are capable of making their own decisions about what they put into their bodies, and don’t need government (other people) making those decisions for them. “

Here is a link to the bill:

What the cheese makers of Maine need to understand is that this bill could mean the difference in the survival of a farm. If you can’t can and sell the overripe tomatoes that don’t sell from your farmstand, that is all wastage; a loss to the farm. The farmer’s family can only eat so much of the farm’s surplus. But, if they are able to cook up a batch of spaghetti sauce or tomato paste or make a lacto-fermented salsa, there is a certain market for those products! It is a great way of preserving the harvest and making money from every last bushel of beans!

Much of modern commerce in food is done through supermarkets, where the source of the food is obscured, the producer unknown to the buyer. The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund is founded on the premise that the inherent transparency in direct sales offers a great deal of protection and even recourse between the trading parties.

I would encourage the residents of Maine to support this bill and actively defend all the farmers in their state, and even the charitable ladies who cook and bake for church suppers! A farmer in Sedgewick wept with joy with the overwhelming support of the town for his right to free trade. Just think of all the joy you can spread, statewide.

Food regulation in America has come to the point of ridiculousness, when mom’s can’t offer their home baked goods for sale, to benefit their local parish or school band uniform drive!

Kimberly Hartke is the publicist for the Weston A. Price Foundation, a nutrition education non-profit that encourages consumers to seek  farm fresh foods for their nutritional value.