Letter to the editor: Communities should support ‘right to food’

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To the editor:

With all the shortages and supply chain problems, I think the NEW NORMAL should include the right to produce your own food. I think it’s a luxury of the privileged modern world to be able to go to a grocery store for everything and deny your neighbors and citizens the right to own some laying hens.

Wake up, community. We no longer live in such a privileged society where the food supply is certain. The pandemic changes everything. And now with the labor shortage, and challenges importing goods, it’s time to rethink, like the citizens of the state of Maine.

Voters in Maine have approved an amendment to their state’s constitution. “Right to Food” is a statewide measure that was placed on the ballot by the Maine Legislature. The amendment gives Maine residents an unalienable right to grow, raise, produce and consume food of their choice. Shouldn’t producing food within your community be an unalienable right?

Now that we are suffering the impact of a pandemic it’s important to be more supportive and flexible when it comes to producing food in our own backyards. I suggest communities everywhere join with Maine, because we live in uncertain times. Those who are free to raise some of their own food will be able to find innovative ways to meet challenges. Rather than become more dependent on the government to offer more socialistic solutions to potential food shortages, some of us would like to be more self-sufficient. New varieties of the COVID virus are raging in our communities and are expected to mutate to the point that vaccines are no longer able to protect individuals from potential serious sickness.

I would suggest that citizens who value the “Right to Food” contact their community leaders to request that they would review their ban on backyard food production. We should also advocate for locations in local parks, open space, empty lots and grassy church yards for spots dedicated to community food production. Those who are interested should come together to identify practical locations within the city and county where neighbors could have livestock co-ops, ideally within walking distance, where backyard production is impossible or impractical.

If we do nothing, the “New Normal” might bring with it many unintended consequences, including hunger and isolation. Many people who are suffering from mental health issues related to the pandemic are finding peace in gardening and raising small livestock. Community food production, if legalized, could also be a wonderful way of connecting with neighbors.

Sarah Janisse Brown

Greenfield

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