Raw Milk Goes Viral in Portland
In its infinite wisdom the city of Portland has forbidden the sale of raw milk at the city's Wednesday and Saturday farmers' markets, even though raw milk has been a fixture at both markets for years.
This was a sudden ruling that occurred because of an accidental discovery. A local inspector reported back to the Health and Recreation Committee council members that raw milk was actually—in full daylight, no less—being offered for sale by the Portland farmers' market vendors who produce it.
In the waning days of outdoor markets what an inopportune time to crimp the incomes that farmers so dearly derive from market-product sales.
The fact remains that raw milk is legal to sell in Maine at the consumer level and that virtually every farmer’s market in the state allows dairy farmers to sell their unpasteurized products, which are highly regulated by the state.
On Tuesday of this week emails were circulated that informed farmers and advocates that the city council’s appropriate committee would be taking this up in chambers. Unfortunately the wrong room number was given out and many of us sat through a protracted meeting on the forthcoming Thompson Point traffic pattern until we learned that we were at the wrong place at the right time.
We scrambled up to a third floor back office at City Hall only to learn that the presiding committee members along with Portland’s corporation council could not address this issue until its November meeting since more pressing matters took precedence.
I suggested that the city place a moratorium on any actions until November so that farmers would not be affected in the interim. One council member looked at me as though I'd just committed the worst heresy.
It’s interesting what rules exists in the Rules and Regulations document that govern farmer’s markets in Portland and what its omissions mandate. http://www.ci.portland.me.us/voter/farmerrules.pdf
There is absolutely no reference to raw milk sales in the ordinances. The only language about milk pertains to the permitted sale of pasteurized milk.
According to the city corporation council Mary Costigan, the law inplies through omission that since raw milk is not on the list of allowable products, it is therefore verboten.
If you look at the list you’ll also learn that such items as “rice crispy squares, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate fudge, or brownies and the like” are not allowed.
Who wrote these rules?
Also on the no-sale list, potentially life-threatening treats like cream pies, meringues, and butter creams - highly suspect products capable of felling one and all.
Fortunately this food fight may have a happy ending. There are a few voices of reason among one or two council members who’ve indicated to me that they were working towards a quick resolution and a moratorium on any action might be in the works.
Until then keep your loved ones away from those nasty rice crispy squares and that toxic bottle of pure milk.
John Golden makes no bones about sharing his opinion. If you'd like to share yours, email him at email@example.com.