This Essay analyzes how the New England states' planning processes are envisioning revitalized local, state, and regional food systems. This Essay has five parts. First, it begins with examining compelling reasons for promoting more sustainable food systems based on national and global trends, and identifies strategies for promoting regional food systems approaches with a brief introduction to the major influences on the national and New England food system. Second, it describes the states' planning efforts and their enabling legislation or source of authority.

The Essay then introduces the New England Food Vision 2060 (the Vision) an emerging discussion of food system possibilities that models potential food production options for the region based on different food based scenarios. The Vision is not a plan or prescription for each state, but rather serves to generate critical thought regarding the direction and aspirations for regional food systems. Likewise, given the goal to have ongoing updates of the Vision, this project will likewise be influenced by individual state plans and strategies. Thus, the Vision represents an opportunity for continuous dynamic interchange among those committed to designing and developing a New England food system Learning Action Network. By applying “collective impact” strategies to food system advancement, the network will be poised to advance regional food justice, food policy access, and system sustainability (i.e., good food).

Next, the Essay analyzes the key policy challenges that are presented by a desire for a more self-sufficient regional food system, such as local ordinances, land use and zoning laws, institutional procurement policy, and food access issues. This section offers a brief overview of how the Federal commerce clause (including the dormant commerce clause), and compact clause influence the scope of local, state, and regional policy. Finally, the paper concludes by identifying how the Vision can assist in identifying legal issues that researchers and scholars should focus on when engaging in food system planning now and in the future. This interdisciplinary Essay challenges readers to think critically, and across traditional doctrinal and disciplinary barriers, about the possibilities for New England's “good food” future.

Publication Date


Journal Title

Maine Law Review


University of Maine School of Law

Document Type



Published originally in the Maine Law Review. Copyright held by Maine Law School.

Additional Information

Abstract available from http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2350515