Photo by Anna Pelzer

If you Google food freedom, you’re likely to come up with references regarding eating habits. However, on Tuesday, November 2, Mainers will vote on a different perspective of food freedom. They will vote on a constitutional amendment that expands on Maine’s food sovereignty law passed in 2017. Question 3 reads, “to declare that all individuals have a natural, inherent and unalienable right to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume the food of their choice for their nourishment, sustenance, bodily health, and well-being.”

There are some organizations and individuals who are against the passage of Question 3 because it may trigger legal fights. No doubt that is true, but we can also say that it will invoke more significant conversation and debate and move toward securing food freedom. Legal challenges are pricey, but that isn’t the fault of the law. Debate is never a bad idea when creating change. Why avoid change because we’re afraid of debate?

Question 3 addresses food insecurity. Food insecurity is primarily caused by a lack of access and distribution issues. The way we address food insecurity in this country is predominantly ineffective and serves corporations better than it helps people. I grew up knowing that our garden and sharing food freely with neighbors was the difference between hunger and access to nutritional foods. Teach people how to grow, harvest, and process food, and we not only ensure the freedom to feed themselves, but local food production inspires entrepreneurship and ensures economic freedom.

Until July 2020, Floridians didn’t have the right to grow food on their front lawn. In California, you can grow food in your front yard, but there are restrictions on plant growing structures and composting. In Illinois, aesthetics are reasons not to allow plants over a certain height or hoop houses. So before there is an issue, why not a law to protect an individual’s right to grow, harvest, produce, and consume food that protects food freedom not only at the state level but also locally.

Then there is the argument that the entire amendment includes “the right to save and exchange seeds,” which will challenge laws regarding contractual issues with companies producing GMO seeds. Maine and the United States Constitution prohibit the passage of laws that conflict with contractual obligations. This issue is problematic but doesn’t mean we can’t work it out. The right to save and exchange seeds are inherent and must be secured.

This proposed constitutional amendment is a significant change with which many are uncomfortable, mainly money-driven organizations and corporations, as it means giving up political, corporate, and organizational control. However, the world is transforming and transitioning. Forward-thinking communities and individuals who understand the value of self-sufficiency, coupled with collaboration with each other and other communities, will secure economic growth and independence; support new crafts, innovations, and skills; and have better health outcomes. In times of hardship, they will be resilient.

Undoubtedly, individuals, organizations, and corporations will challenge or even push the intention of Question 3, but that doesn’t mean we stop trying.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: