Food Systems Matter to Maine

At the Maine People’s Alliance annual summer retreat this June, our staff and members spent a morning envisioning how we want Maine to look in 40 years. Large sheets of poster paper were handed out; we huddled together in small groups with magic markers in hand, and drew pictures illustrating how our society would look different. When we looked at the various illustrations afterward, the theme of sustainability was evident in many of the depictions.

This theme was manifested in many ways—people highlighted renewable energy sources, thriving downtowns, community gardens, healthy food and access to water, among other things.  As we build a new vision for our future, it’s clear that issues of local and global sustainability are important parts of our work to create an economy and democracy that works for everyone. 

Integral to our goal of living in a sustainable society is an accessible regional food system.  A regional food system takes some control away from massive multinational corporations and allows more local stewardship of the land and oceans. When food is grown, harvested, processed and distributed locally, jobs are created, fossil fuel use is drastically reduced and money stays and is reinvested in local communities.

That is why this past legislative session, MPA supported a few bills that aimed at addressing some of these issues.  LD 1185, Maine Schools Should Provide Our Kids Fresh, Healthy Food: Grow Maine’s Farm- and Fish-to-School Programs, worked to increase local food use in Maine schools and LD 718, An Act To Protect Maine Food Consumers' Right To Know about Genetically Engineered Food, aimed to label all genetically modified foods. 

Despite the millions of dollars that corporate giant Monsanto poured in to fight this effort nationally, the Maine GMO labeling bill passed unanimously in the Senate, setting a national precedent and proving that Mainers want a food system that is controlled by Mainers. In the months ahead, we’ll be convening groups of MPA members to explore some of these themes and to talk about what the development of an accessible, sustainable and fair regional food system could look like in Maine. If you are interested in participating in one of these discussions, email Mid-Coast organizer Caroline Ginsberg at caroline@mainepeoplesalliance.org.