Simple. Understood.

I trust most are enjoying their summer. Summer in Maine, where if you live here, you use summer as a noun, not a verb. It’s a stand alone feature that comes with the territory.  Your heart has to be here with you. That’s how it is. Simple and understood. Continue reading

Apathy is Democracy’s Greatest Enemy

Hi All!

Many of you reading this, if not all, either know Jim Gerritsen personally, or at least are familiar with his work as head of Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association (OSGATA). Jim has lead the farmer’s charge against Monsanto, as he and 83 courageous and conscientious farmers filed a lawsuit against Monsanto. Jim is loathe to leave his Wood Prairie Farm in northern Maine, but leave it he did to present the farmer’s lawsuit in New York City. It was a day that was historical in other respects as well, as urban AND rural farmers, seed saver, and eaters joined in a peaceful, yet deliberate rally in NYC’s Foley Square in support of farmers and eaters everywhereContinue reading

Laws of Attraction

(I first posted this a few days ago on a blog for which I occasionally write as a member of Eat  Local Foods Coalition.) 

While many of you are busy tilling up the earth in preparation of another year’s growth, or turning dairy animals out to pasture, here in the Western Mts. we are moving more than the earth. Last Saturday, April 28th was the First Annual Local Food Day: Fiddlehead Festival.  As posted previously, there were many events scheduled. They were well-attended, particularly Dr. Lapping’s keynote speech and the presentation on fiddleheads. The result being farmers talking with farmers; farmers talking with eaters; and the beginnings of a bonafide local food system complete with growing, processing, marketing, buying and discussion on creating a local food and self-governance ordinance in several towns.

Bussie York held an afternoon program at Sandy River Farm Market.  Mark Fulford and Bob St. Peter made presentations. Bussie did as well. While the former were interesting, Bussie’s was one that I found most disturbing. I’ve known Bussie for many of my years. I grew up with his children, so that will give some of you an idea of how long he’s been around these parts. He raised his family on the same acreage he was raised. Pretty sure he isn’t an alien – illegal or otherwise.

Bussie recounted the story of a visitor he had recently. Note, I said visitor, not guest, although, knowing Bussie, he doesn’t much discern between the two, but I do. Inspectors from the Department of Homeland Security came knocking on his door. Bussie told us two farms in Maine received visits. Now for the most part it was SOP, but then came the question of his identity. He hadn’t made application proving he is indeed who he says he is and a citizen of these United States. Well, Bussie informed them of his family’s lineage in the Western Mts of Maine, but Bussie’s word, that the rest of us would stake our life on, wasn’t enough for DHS, Bussie had to show proof positive paperwork he is indeed a citizen. I won’t speak for Bussie, but I can tell you I heard the emotion in his voice as he told his story. I know for myself I sometimes struggle to get my head wrapped around the fact I’m spending my time fighting for the right to do things that were considered just routine when I was a kid. Now with some of those things I have to let the government know what I’m doing; who I’m doing it with; how often; and how satisfied I am.

Mark, in his presentation shared a prayer he says many farmers wake up with each day. To paraphrase: Dear Lord, don’t let me be held accountable today for a regulation I’m supposed to know about and don’t. That leads into the next recounting by Bussie.

Bussie went on to tell of his quest for GAP certification to sell corn at the local Hannaford. He arguably has the best corn around in these parts. I’m pretty sure it’s the spillover benefit the fields get from the Sandy River flooding each Spring.

Now, as an aside, all of you from Maine, reading this, know we’ve been in the habit of naming some of our towns after famous other cities around the globe. Vienna. Madrid. Rome. Peru. To name a few. Apparently this has caused some confusion on the part of Hannaford, because now Bussie has to be certified to sell internationally, if he wants to sell locally. Hah! There you are. You all are scratching your heads over that one! No? Well, you should be and that brings me to the laws of attraction .

Psychologists today say the law of attraction is not that we are attracted to people for who they are, but because they support who we are. All of you out there – eaters, farmers, fishers. That’s what we need happening in this state, indeed, in this country. But instead, I’m encountering in various spots, farmers reporting on farmers; activists telling misleading, if not outright lies about other activists. People, what’s happening to farmers and fishers is by extension, happening to us collectively in this country. Rules and regulations are being made at federal and state levels that are adversely affecting us all. They impose on our fundamental right to choose the foods we eat and access to those foods. Whether raw milk is safe is not the issue. Whether you think pesticides and GMOs are harmful is not the issue. The issue is having the right to make those decisions for yourself, not the government.

Think about it. If the government is making these rules for your safety, shouldn’t they be beating down the doors of Hannaford to track the meat that poisoned far more people than raw milk or finding out the source for listeria that contaminated cantaloupe last fall, or e-coli contamination of alfalfa sprouts?

So why are so many working against the few who are fighting for this fundamental right? Why are common citizens being refused entrance to the Maine Dept of Agriculture and treated as “enemies of the state“? Why is a one-cow-dairy farmer being sued by the State of Maine?

Why don’t more of us get angry and speak up about Bussie York and others being treated as common criminals? Or the fact that more regulations are erecting further barriers to entry to the farming industry. We should be following the law of attraction and be supportive of one another, not working against each other. “A house divided cannot stand”. There are differences in our approach, but in the end we all want to produce food and feed ourselves and each other. Some of us out of that group put profits before people, however, and there lies one difference in response. Or lack of. Another is fear.

I contend we don’t need people working on creating still more policies. We need to eliminate the policies that aren’t working or simply aren’t necessary. We need to elect officials that get that we don’t need more rules and regulations.We need rules and regulations that are to scale and appropriate. Those that work for our betterment based on sound policy, not fear.

John Rawls, philosopher, wrote in A Theory of Justice, we only need a few rules and then stick to them. That the theory of justice as fairness, permits justice to be fair. It permits an equal distribution of benefits and a position of value in society within limits. When some fair better, that is allowed because some take more of the risk. But when that betterment is because of exploitation, as we have now with the government and certain business entities, it leads to societal unrest and revolution.

The food movement is a revolution. Revolutions can serve good purpose, but they should be undertaken with care and with the presence of mind that people matter. That in the long run, we need to all benefit and have position of value.

Be well.