Author Archives: Maine Food Strategy

What Do We Know? What Don’t We Know?

download (1)Good information leads to good decisions, right?  Bad information (or lack of information) leads to… well, it depends.

The Research Committee here at The Maine Food Strategy have been busy setting up a scope of work to figure out what we already know, what data and research “gaps” exist, and how we can move forward to leverage the power of good information in service to Maine’s food system.

Check out the full details of what the Research Committee is up to and how you can get involved (if good data is your thing:).

Research Committee page


Communicating About Food Systems & Planning

It’s hard to imagine a topic more complex and all-encompassing as food.  We all eat!  And we all have opinions about how we should be able to get our food and how it’s produced.  Lots of livelihoods are involved as well our cultural stories and behaviors.

Maine Food Strategy team members participated today in a call with folks from all six New England states on how to communicate effectively about food systems planning, given the challenges of this complex terrain.  The call was facilitated by Ellen Kahler from Vermont’s Farm-to-Plate effort.

DSCF3259We heard about convening strategies, communications methods (including, but not limited to electronic methods), network management and the ways to trying to ensure engagement/participation opportunities for folks who traditionally have not be able to get involved!

And we’re not alone in thinking about this here in Maine…There’s lots of chatter about this topic!

One important message came through loud and clear, though, about the power of convening…

Anything we can all do to convene people (and not just the usual suspects) and create an environment for free-flowing conversation, in a well-facilitated and well-structured way is valuable for relationship and network building.  The convening function is really critical and sets the stage for network strengthening and implementation (of food-related action plans).  People find huge value at these convenings because their expertise and passion is valued as part of creating a statewide strategy.

A bit more about food systems communication from around the web….

Community food systems will only thrive with quality communication between farmers and consumers

Introduction to Food Communication

Food Systems – From the Frameworks Institute




New USDA Rules for “Competitive” School Snack Foods

USDA released Interim Final Rules for competitive foods—the snacks and sodas sold from vending machines and carts outside of federally supported school lunches…The new  standards are tough and will change the food landscape in schools much for the better.”

Maine Delegates to the Recent New England Food Summit

We’re compiling a “highlights” report for all of you, but for now, feel free to track down one of these great delegates from Maine who attended this month’s New England Food Summit in Portland.


Here is a list of the delegates (make sure you look under “Maine Delegates” as well as “Cross-Cutting Delegation”).


Your Feedback Needed by July 31 on the New England Food Vision

IMG_4381Further to our recent post asking “How Will New England Feed Itself?” we are signal boosting this request to get your thoughts about the current iteration of a New England Food Vision.  This version is only a draft and truly represents one vision of how different food futures could play out here in New England.

Whether you are a food producer, consumer, purveyor of food products or have access to land and sea resources that might produce food in the future….it is really worth taking a look and giving feedback by the end of July!  There is great data here as well that can serve as fodder for other work in which you may be involved.


Maine Law Review Publishes Issue Dedicated to Food Laws and Policy

On February 23, 2013, the Maine Law Review organized a day-long conference in Portland, Maine, devoted to discussing emerging issues in food law and policy.  The event brought together more than a dozen legal scholars from around the country, and an audience comprised of members of the legal community, policymakers, farmers, and community organizers.  It became a forum for exploring the many ways in which people are challenging conventional thinking about U.S. food systems, and the hurdles they face in so doing.

To continue to facilitate the exchange of ideas about these important and relevant issues, the Maine Law Review has devoted much of Volume 65:2 to legal scholarship on food law and policy. The spring volume, which includes sixteen essays on a diverse range of food law and policy topics, is now published and available online at

Here’s a quick glance at the table of contents for the issue:

Colloquium: Local Food || Global Food:
Do We Have What It Takes to Reinvent the U.S. Food System?


Legal Institutions of Farmland Succession: Implications for Sustainable Food Systems
Jamie Baxter

From “Food Miles” to “Moneyball”: How We Should Be Thinking About Food and Climate
Bret C. Birdsong

The Symbolic Garden: An Intersection of the Food Movement and the First Amendment
Jaime Bouvier

Obesity Prevention Policies at the Local Level: Tobacco’s Lessons
Paul A. Diller

Zoning and Land Use Controls: Beyond Agriculture
Lisa M. Feldstein

Food Safety and Security in the Monsanto Era: Peering Through the Lens of a Rights Paradigm Against an Onslaught of Corporate Domination
Saby Ghoshray

The Renewable Fuel Standard: Food Versus Fuel?
Brent J. Hartman

The New England Food System in 2060: Envisioning Tomorrow’s Policy Through Today’s Assessments
Margaret Sova McCabe and Joanne Burke

A National “Natural” Standard for Food Labeling
Nicole E. Negowetti

Whatever Happened to the “Frankenfish”?: The FDA’s Foot-Dragging on Transgenic Salmon
Lars Noah

Follow the Leader: Eliminating Perverse Global Fishing Subsidies Through Unilateral Domestic Trade Measures
Anastasia Telesetsky

When Fox and Hound Legislate the Hen House: A Nixon-in-China Moment for National Egg-Laying Standards?
Lucinda Valero and Will Rhee

Preempting Humanity: Why National Meat Ass’n v. Harris Answered the Wrong Question
Pamela Vesilind

A Hungry Industry on Rolling Regulations: A Look at Food Truck Regulations in Cities Across the United States
Crystal T. Williams

How Reliance on the Private Enforcement of Public Regulatory Programs Undermines Food Safety in the United States: The Case of Needled Meat
Diana R. H. Winters

Liberty of Palate
Samuel R. Wiseman

How Might New England Feed Itself?

What might New England’s food production landscape look like if we were to try and grow 50% or even 70% of our food (by calories) by 2060? Over the past two years, an ambitious and creative group of researchers have been building a series of models to examine some potential scenarios. Their work is now available in draft form, and they are welcoming public feedback through July 31, 2013.  You can access the draft of A New England Food Vision and all supporting data here:
On this webpage, you will also find a link to an online survey, where you can submit your comments through the end of July. Comments will inform the editing process, and a final version is intended to be released in the fall of 2013.

As we build the Maine Food Strategy, we recognize that we are part of a region that has the potential to produce much more food than we do now. The work of those who have contributed to A New England Food Vision can help us to see some of the opportunities and challenges we may face as a region, and spark more creative thinking and action to move our state-wide discussion forward. We hope you will review this document and provide your feedback to the authors at: