Mainers Feeding Mainers

June 1, 2014

Our own Heather Retberg (and good friend the Honorable Craig Hickman) was at Husson University this past Thursday on a panel about food security.   The BDN had an article about the panel.  Here is the opening paragraph and a link:

BANGOR, Maine — Food, what is grown in Maine and how to get it into the mouths of hungry people, was the topic of the day at a Thursday morning panel discussion convened by Bangor City Councilor Ben Sprague. The answer — support Maine’s farmers.”

And part of the article was a nice little video from Good Shepard Foodbank.  Watch it!


New Milk and Cheese Bill Hearing This Week!

March 2, 2014

“We always hear about the rights of democracy, but the major
responsibility of it is participation.”
–Wynton Marsalis


Public notice is short during this short session, but legislative and
public support for direct sales of fresh, unprocessed dairy keeps
growing. This time around, several Maine Cheese Guild members have been
working on bill language with Rep. Bill Noon (D-Sanford) on LD 1286 An
Act To Allow the Sale of Unregulated Farm-produced Dairy Products at
the Site of Production.

We have worked hard time and again to raise our voices over the last
five years to keep traditional ways of exchanging food legal. Each
time, awareness is raised, more understanding is reached and…we get

It is time for us to once again raise our voice, submit testimony,
attend the public hearing. PARTICIPATE! This bill aims to restore the
legitimacy to small-scale dairies that was stripped away by internal
language changes by the Quality Assurance and Regulations Division of
the Department of Agriculture in 2009. Please read the bill carefully.
Please consider it well. Please raise your voice and submit your
testimony to the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.
If you can, please attend the hearing in Augusta this Tuesday.”

Links below:

Committee Info.: Please submit testimony (one page or less is good) to
the clerk of the committee linked on the page:

Bill Text:

Yale Food Sovereignty Conference

September 9, 2013

Bob St. Peter and Heather Retberg, board members of Food for Maine’s Future will be traveling to Yale this week to speak at an academic conference on the food sovereignty issue.   Here is a synopsis of the conference and then the short version of the paper that Heather participated in writing.   Very exciting and heady stuff.

“Sponsored by the Program in Agrarian Studies at Yale University and

the *Journal of Peasant Studies*, and co-organized by Food First, Initiatives in

Critical Agrarian Studies (ICAS) and the International Institute of Social

Studies (ISS) in The Hague, Yale Sustainable Food Project, as well as the

Amsterdam-based Transnational Institute (TNI), the conference “Food

Sovereignty: A Critical Dialogue” will be held at Yale University on

September 14–15, 2013. The event will bring together leading scholars and

political activists who are advocates of and sympathetic to the idea of

food sovereignty, as well as those who are skeptical to the concept of food

sovereignty to foster a critical and productive dialogue on the issue. The

purpose of the meeting is to examine what food sovereignty might mean, how

it might be variously construed, and what policies (e.g. of land use,

commodity policy, and food subsidies) it implies. Moreover, such a dialogue

aims at exploring whether the subject of food sovereignty has an

“intellectual future” in critical agrarian studies and, if so, on what



Conference Paper # 40: Community Autonomy and Local Food: Seeking Food

Sovereignty in Maine, by Hilda E. Kurtz in collaboration with Heather

Retberg and Bonnie Preston*


In 2011, a group of food and farmer activists in Maine set off a maelstrom

of political activity in and around the food sovereignty movement when they

drafted and placed on town meeting warrants a Local Food and Community

Self-Governance Ordinance. Intended to maintain the viability of small

farms in a struggling rural economy, these ordinances exempt direct

transactions of farm food from licensure and inspection. Their goal is to

maintain control of food at the local level by asserting the right to

remain autonomous from the corporate industrial food system. Conceptually,

they draw on a populist ethos and the town meeting tradition to invite

broad democratic participation in pressing claims for food sovereignty.

This paper traces the ordinance strategy and its effects through activist

networks and into the halls of the state capitol, where the governing and

the governed have wrestled over the last two years with fundamental and

difficult issues facing food systems. Recognizing the play of multiple food

sovereignties in different settings, we suggest that this work offers

insight into possible trajectories of food sovereignty as a movement for

radical change in the food system by reasserting the right to define a

local food system and drawing a protective boundary around traditional

foodways. The concept of food sovereignty – democratic control of the food

system, and the right of all people to define their own agrifood systems

(US Social Forum 2010) – implies a re-scaling of food production and trade

regimes, away from industrial scale production for international trade to

food systems organized at local and regional scales. Beyond such a

re-scaling, however, food sovereignty discourse is ambiguous if not

ambivalent about the geographic scales at which food sovereignty can and

should be achieved. Main ordinance advocates engage with the scale problem

directly by arguing for the need for scale appropriate regulations for

small scale production for direct sale; in addition, they draw on Maine’s

tradition of Home Rule to frame perhaps the first legible spatial

expression of food sovereignty in the United States. This paper examines

the ordinance strategy and its ripple effects as a politics of scale, in

which different expressions of geographic scale shape both the form and the

content of political debate. The stakes in this struggle are high,

concerning intersections of life and livelihood, autonomy and its absence,

and bases for knowing and for evaluating risk. We view these stakes as

biopolitics, or struggle over the exercise of biopower. In the exertion of

biopower, states (and other actors) manage population health through the

use of vital statistics and other technologies. Foucault demonstrates that

as new forms of knowledge and regimes of truth made population health

knowable, biological experience shaping individual and collective life,

like dietary practices, became linked to the exercise of state power. The

paper traces how the food sovereigntists of Maine use politics of scale to

face off against biopower as exercised through corporate influence over

food and farm regulations.”

Goat Milk is not a Crime!

August 30, 2013

Please come out and show your support for young mother Alorah and her
baby Carson. Faced with a threat from DHHS that Carson could be taken
away because the family fed him a homemade goat’s milk formula from
their own goats, this family has reached out to the broader community
for support.

Help us encircle them, support them and rally around them at 11:00 am September  5th in Cascade Park, State Street, Bangor.

From the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance which aims
to protect citizens from just this sort of agency overreach:

“Section 5.2. Right to Access and Produce Food. Name of Town citizens
possess the right to produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume
local foods of their choosing.

Section 5.3. Right to Self-Governance. All citizens of Name of Town
possess the right to a form of governance which recognizes that all
power is inherent in the people, that all free governments are founded
on the people?s authority and consent.

Section 5.4. Right to Enforce. Name of Town citizens possess the right
to adopt measures which prevent the violation of the rights enumerated
in this Ordinance.”

Standing together protects us all! Hope to see you next Thursday in Bangor!

Blessings on your day!

Press Conference, Rally and Public Hearing Tomorrow in Augusta

May 6, 2013


PRESS CONFERENCE comes on the heels of Blue Hill farmer Dan Brown losing case against the Maine Department of Agriculture and State of Maine for unlicensed food sales.

Tuesday, May 7: Press Conference hosted by Food for Maine’s Future at 12:00pm in the State House, Welcome Center

Scheduled to speak:
Rep. Craig Hickman, Winthrop
Farmer and small business owner. Sponsor of LD1287 An Act to Deregulate Face-to-Face Transactions between the People and Small Farms and Small Food Producers.

Emma Simanton, Brooksville
Licensed dairy farmer and co-coordinator of Blue Hill’s Local Food Exchange.

Rep. Brian Jones, Freedom
Co-sponsor of LD 1287 and LD 475 An Act to Increase Food Sovereignty in Local Communities

Farmers, patrons, legislators, and representatives of Maine towns that have passed Local Food & Community Self-Governance Ordinances, TBA

Followed by public hearings in Room 214 of the Cross Bldg.:

Tuesday, May 7: Public Hearing on LD-1287 An Act to Deregulate Face-to-Face Transactions between the People and Small Farms and Small Food Producers will begin at 1pm in Cross Building, Room 214.
Bill Summary: This bill facilitates direct sales between Maine farmers and consumers. It allows persons 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.

Public Hearing on LD-1282 An Act To Help Small Farmers in Selling Raw Milk and Homemade Food Products

Bill Summary: This bill exempts from state licensing and inspection requirements homestead food operations and raw milk producers who sell small quantities of certain food products or raw milk products made or produced at the person’s residence or farm if the food products or raw milk products are sold directly from the person’s home or farm or farm stand or at a farmers’ market within the State.

2 more Maine towns pass local foods ordinance | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

June 17, 2012

See on Scoop.itfood sovereignty

Maine towns are passing this ordinance as a struggle for transparency and the fundamental right to access foods of our choosing.

See on