Archive for May, 2011

The folks of Sedgwick, Maine have hatched a bold scheme: invoking self rule and ignoring both state and federal oversight and licensing when it comes to producing and selling food to consumers.

According to this recent article, Sedgwick has declared food sovereignty in a four-page document it calls “The Ordinance to Protect the Health and Integrity of the Local Food System.”

One of the more interesting passages from the article is this one, which comes straight from the ordinance:

“We have faith in our citizens’ abilityto educate themselves and make informed decisions,” reads the ordinance, which was adopted unanimously March 5 at a meeting of about 100 residents. “We hold that federal and state regulations impede local food production and constitute a usurpation of our citizens’ right to foods of their choice.”

While surely the good people in and around Sedgwick are capable of making informed decisions, a quick eyeball of the region’s daily paper might just suggest they’re no wiser than any other community. Criminal activity, animal cruelty and other bad decisions make front page news on this particular day alone. So much for faith in the people of Sedgwick – and these aren’t nuances of food safety and production, mind you. These are widely held beliefs and laws that are commonplace to any citizenry.   

Now imagine applying this self rule to, say, daycare operations or dangerous work environments. Who in their right mind is going to suggest licensing or OSHA rules aren’t necessary in these situations? 

Regulations, cumbersome as they can be at times, are designed to provide the guardrails in which to move forward with effectiveness and safety in mind. Bypassing them suggests hubris at the highest level and, or in the case of food processing, a blatant disregard for the consumer.

What’s good for Sedgwick should be good for all communities, right? Certainly this isn’t about an elite group of informed citizens to whom the rules do not apply? 

Bottom line, Sedgwick – you can’t have it both ways.