by Ed Yowell
April 4, 2011
Sedgwick, Maine, a town of about 1,200 souls, on Saturday, March 5, 2011, took on the State of Maine and the United States of America in a food fight of constitutional magnitude. On that day, Sedgwick residents struck a blow for their food sovereignty by adopting their Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance.
The Ordinance, probably the first of its kind in the nation, is based on a template offered by a local group, Food for Maine’s Future. It begins, “We, the People of the Town of Sedgwick, Hancock 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.” Citing authority in The Declaration of Independence, the Maine Constitution, and the Maine Revised Statutes (but not the United States Constitution), the Ordinance provides that, “Producers or processors of local foods…are exempt from licensure and inspection provided that the transaction is only between the producer or processor and a patron when the food is sold for home consumption.”
The Ordinance, regarding “State and Federal Law,” provides that, “It shall be unlawful for any law or regulation adopted by the state or federal government to interfere with the rights recognized by this Ordinance.” And, regarding liability, the Ordinance provides that, “Patrons…may enter into private agreements with…producers or processors…to waive any liability for the consumption of that (local) food.”