Never eat food your grandparents didn’t eat, a wise old Mesopotamian once told me. What did he mean? It takes two generations for our bodies to adapt to changes in the food chain. By this logic, Big Agriculture’s nonsense with genetically modified organisms (armies of evil and expensive avocados, please note my use of the conditional here) have something to do with a generation of people who turned gluten off. Just maybe.
While tens of millions of dollars have been pumped into campaigns for and against (albeit mostly against) Question 1 on the upcoming referendum, it seems nothing has been spent to educate us on Question 3, seems he does. A yes in 3 could amend the Constitution of the State of Maine to enshrine a right to food. When we have Hannafords and Shaws and even Fresh Off the Farm and Belfast Co-op, why should we need such a thing?
The reason is that what we think of as food is under constant attack, both by Wall Street and by the administrative state.
Last month, Fortune reported that the New York Stock Exchange has developed a new type of listing vehicle called the Natural Asset Company, or NAC. These will allow “governments, farmers and other owners of natural assets (…) Just like the Clean Energy Corridor, it sounds perfectly healthy, but doesn’t it?”
What NACs do is monetize investors’ notion of what food is. Just as the “clean energy corridor” is in effect using Maine as a gateway to pump Canadian electricity into Massachusetts, dominance over “ecosystem service rights” is a precariously vague open door to be governed. by Wall Street. Any veteran of the homecoming movement of the 1960s and 1970s will warn you to beware of such constructions.
Lincolnville’s Larry’s notion of what a sustainable product is could suddenly be shattered by the standard that Laurence on Long Island (who travels to his Goldman Sachs office by helicopter) deems superior.
The markets, at least, have more respect for democracy than for the administrative state.
Consider for a moment what happened to that Beethoven symphony of super-governance, the European Union, when Brussels began to dictate to farmers on the continent what a tomato looks like. The poor Romanian farmers have literally been buried. When the Belgian bureaucrats declared war on the English egg, we had Brexit. Was it worth it? While some spotty doctors in the standards office might say yes, absolutely, everyone is a little more skeptical.
My next door neighbor in Bath had free range chickens, and while that confuses Pepper the Dog – which I had to prevent more than once from eating them – the rest of us in the community were Okay. Then one day in early summer, the chickens disappeared. At first I thought they were dusting their feathers on Georgetown. But when I finally asked my neighbor what had happened, she said with a frown that the town’s animal control officer had denied the chicks because they were within 75 feet. from the river.
Could the mighty Kennebec handle a little chicken poop? Probably, but let’s give local autonomy its due. Delegate the same authority to Washington, DC? No thanks.
If you trust the same rocket scientists who tried to shut down the Maine lobster industry by deploying more diktats, this time to Maine farmers, then you probably don’t think we need question 3. But I don’t trust them for a DC minute (which, unlike a New York minute, is longer than the standard minute due to the federal government’s innate dysfunction).
If a “yes” to question 3 prevails, Maine will be the first state in the nation to establish a right to food. Let Archer Daniel Midlands sue us. I’ll be the first to bring out the popcorn – made to my own specifications.