Recently Hatched

The folks of Sedgwick, Maine have hatched a bold scheme: invoking self rule and ignoring both state and federal oversight and licensing when it comes to producing and selling food to consumers.

According to this recent article, Sedgwick has declared food sovereignty in a four-page document it calls “The Ordinance to Protect the Health and Integrity of the Local Food System.”

One of the more interesting passages from the article is this one, which comes straight from the ordinance:

“We have faith in our citizens’ abilityto educate themselves and make informed decisions,” reads the ordinance, which was adopted unanimously March 5 at a meeting of about 100 residents. “We hold that federal and state regulations impede local food production and constitute a usurpation of our citizens’ right to foods of their choice.”

While surely the good people in and around Sedgwick are capable of making informed decisions, a quick eyeball of the region’s daily paper might just suggest they’re no wiser than any other community. Criminal activity, animal cruelty and other bad decisions make front page news on this particular day alone. So much for faith in the people of Sedgwick – and these aren’t nuances of food safety and production, mind you. These are widely held beliefs and laws that are commonplace to any citizenry.   

Now imagine applying this self rule to, say, daycare operations or dangerous work environments. Who in their right mind is going to suggest licensing or OSHA rules aren’t necessary in these situations? 

Regulations, cumbersome as they can be at times, are designed to provide the guardrails in which to move forward with effectiveness and safety in mind. Bypassing them suggests hubris at the highest level and, or in the case of food processing, a blatant disregard for the consumer.

What’s good for Sedgwick should be good for all communities, right? Certainly this isn’t about an elite group of informed citizens to whom the rules do not apply? 

Bottom line, Sedgwick – you can’t have it both ways.

City Folk Re-Hash Rules of the Roost

Hatched: Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

People in urban cities throughout the Midwest have been bending the rules a bit about keeping the hens out back around.   Some supporters view fresh eggs and pesticide-free fertilizer as being worth the risk while others prefer to keep the layers around as pets or even as part of 4-H projects.  No harm, no foul- right? Well, a few minor banters have caused cities to re-hash their regulations on the backyard roost.  (City’s cry fowl over residential chickens).

When the neighbor down the street fussed to Ludlow city officials to ban the chickens, a Kentuckian by the name of Amanda Lewis decided her chickens were worth the brawl.  While a fellow neighbor backed down and got rid of his two chickens, Lewis appealed her case with the intention of keeping Goldie, Speck, Big Momma and Little Momma around regardless. 

Cases such as this have also pecked their way to city attention in the Ohio cities of Norwood, Montgomery and Fairfield.  Instead of outright banning inner-city poultry, many areas have concluded that a licensing fee or proper restrictions will suffice.  Other areas have simply amended their zoning codes to allow a certain number of hens as long as they are cared for properly and do not become a nuisance or hazard. 

Whether residents agree or disagree that backyard chickens should be allowed or not, the “Urban Chicken Farmer” identity is one that’s not likely to go away anytime soon in some urban cities. While that’s good news for individuals like Lewis, it may have others bawking, “what the cluck?”

Remember when you were in high school? There was always that group of kids at school who stole the mascot of your rival or pulled off the big prank on the day of the critical game. Those were the good ol’ days of happy high jinks when perhaps a stern talking to was the only consequence. Nobody was hurt, and no political message was infused.

Those kids have grown, but have failed to grow up – and now they play out their pranks with an agenda, flip cam and YouTube.  The kidnapping of a Ronald McDonald statue in Helsinki, Finland, McDonald’s restaurant is proof positive of over-age pranksters overstepping the bounds of responsibility and good taste.  

Watching Ronald McDonald get lifted may have its momentary chuckle, but a jihadist-like video demanding answers to the group’s agenda, and then decapitating the mustard & ketchup-colored clown: not so funny. This comes courtesy of a group call the Food Liberation Army, which tries to be funny and serious simultaneously.  It fails on both counts by a country mile.

As tasteless as it is, instead of condemning it perhaps more people should see this ridiculousness and ask – where exactly does the prank end and the seriousness begin? If anything, it’s a snapshot of reality regarding how far some people are willing to go to make their point.

As Meatless Mondays attempts to gain traction for its anti-meat agenda, one national chain is bucking that trend as it busts out a carnivore-themed campaign on the same day of the week.  

Hooters – known for chicken wings among other things – earlier this week began its efforts to beef up the start of the week by offering “Burger Mondays” with six burger and fries options starting at $5.99. While it may not be the only reason patrons frequent Hooters, options such as the More than a Mouthful Cheeseburger, Nacho Ordinary Burger and the Double “D” Burger certainly enhance the meaty menu options for chain’s campaign with the obvious lure of attractive…prices.

Burger Mondays replaces the “More than a Mouthful Mondays” campaign from 2010 to be more deliberate about its beefy options. Certainly the deliberate call out of “Where’s the beef?” in their announcement signals a purposeful approach to go against the grain of the Meatless Monday movement.

It’s safe to say that the anti-meat crowd won’t find Hooters’ effort to reposition Monday all that titillating…

Food service giant to push Meatless Monday

Hatched: Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

It’s a little hard to believe.”

Those are the words of Meatless Monday’s program director explaining in a release how the movement has gone from a sole blogger two years ago to having a global leader in food services sing from its hymnal.  And to his credit, he’s right. It is hard to believe.

According to Sodexo’s website, Meatless Monday will be “promoting and adding the option of a plant-based entrée to its menus each week.” It’s hard to believe that Sodexo has previously failed to offer something such as a pasta dish or vegetable soup as part of the entrée, especially from an organization that refers to itself as a world leader in Quality of Daily Life Solutions.

And it’s hard to believe the option will remain optional considering the campaign push Sodexo will put behind the effort. Also from the Meatless Monday release:   

Sodexo intends to keep its Meatless Monday program fresh by sending out new tool kits to its client reps every 4 months. These will include newly created recipes, promo materials and educational background. It also hopes to launch other fitness and health programs created by The Monday Campaigns.”

That’s quite a commitment for a once-a-week option. As a food service provider, Sodexo surely has long had offerings that don’t include meat that, frankly, could be purchased any day of the week, right?

The Animal Ag Alliance voiced its beef about Meatless Mondays recently, and perhaps it’s the one thing that isn’t hard to believe. Meatless Mondays is quick to make fuzzy, feel-good claims to get people and organizations on board with the program. As pointed out by the Animal Ag Alliance, it even co-opts a once-legitimate reason to forgo meat during war time in effort to advance its anti-animal agriculture agenda in this modern era.

This mirrors another shrewd activist organization that benefits from misconception, but also is known for not biting off more than it can chew. Now that this campaign has sunk its teeth deep into Monday at record speed and acceptance, the question everyone should be asking is – what’s next?