The local food movement is one of the most active of current civil engagement social movements. Yet, in New Jersey, there is little or no collaborative, organized effort to affect food and farming policies, legislation or regulations that promote the health of our people and land. Generally speaking, in New Jersey, the farming sector is viewed and treated by legislators and regulators solely as an economic sector, rather as the crossroads where our health, our food system and our environment intersect.
The first step would be to research and follow all proposed legislation at the state level, such as laws that limit home baking and other food-production cottage industries, on-farm bottling of milk, on-farm cheese and yogurt productions and other similar restrictions. We would like to organize a cross-sector, urban-rural audience to form a coalition willing to educate legislators and regulators about effecting laws, policies and rules that promote healthy food and protect our environment, and embrace these values*:
- all Americans have access to healthful food;
- farm policies are designed to support our public health and environmental objectives;
- our food supply is free of toxic bacteria, chemicals and drugs;
- production and marketing of our food are done transparently;
- the food industry pays a fair wage to those it employs;
- food marketing sets children up for healthful lives by instilling in them a habit of eating real food;
- animals are treated with compassion and attention to their well-being;
- the food system’s carbon footprint is reduced, and the amount of carbon sequestered on farmland is increased;
- the food system is sufficiently resilient to withstand the effects of climate change.
*Washington Post, “How a national food policy could save millions of American lives,” November 2014