Rosemont Market & Bakery consistently strives to source as many of our products locally as possible. At present, many agricultural sites across Maine are contending with contamination issues from PFAS (also referred to as “Forever Chemicals”). All of us at Rosemont, along with a strong network of non-profits and government agencies across the state, are working hard to support local farms through these challenging circumstances.
What are PFAS?
According to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, “PFAS refer to a group of man-made chemicals known as Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances. There are thousands of varieties of these chemicals… [and they] are used in many common products that we use regularly… PFAS break down very slowly and are persistent in the environment. This means that PFAS may build up in people, animals, and the environment over time. Health agencies are working to understand more about the health effects of low level, long-term exposure.”
Current regulatory standards surrounding PFAS are strongly focused on meat and dairy. Limited information is available on how produce crops absorb PFAS from water and soil, and where it is deposited in the plant. Currently, the state is in the process of developing regulatory standards for produce crops.
How did PFAS infiltrate Maine farms and our food?
It is important to first note that this problem is not exclusive to the state of Maine. This is likely to be a national crisis. That said, specific to our region, PFAS-contaminated sludge was used on Maine farmland as fertilizer stemming back to the 1980’s. While this practice was once approved by the Maine DEP, it is no longer permitted. Unfortunately, the effects remain.
PFAS are not exclusive to organic farmers or conventional farmers, and farmers do not carry the blame for this. Our friends at Maine Farmland Trust explain, “PFAS contamination is something that impacts all of us, whether or not we are farmers, but right now farmers are shouldering the burden of this legacy chemical as their livelihoods and bodies are so tied to the land.”
How is Rosemont responding?
Rosemont’s policy is the same as it always has been: We work with farmers that we trust, farmers that care for the land, the food they produce, and our community. We promise to support our farmers as they continue to make decisions and navigate this situation with caution and integrity.
While we currently can’t ask all our farmers to voluntarily test due to the incredible cost, the difficulty, and the backlog for testing, many of the farmers we work with are proceeding with testing despite these obstacles. Additionally, farmers who meet the guidance for testing will test or be tested by Maine DEP. We expect our farmers to follow all relevant guidance from State, Federal, and relevant non-profits. As the availability of testing increases, we may expand our expectations.
We will respond with urgency to all voluntary and required recalls of any products sold in our markets that test positive for high levels of PFAS.
How is Maine responding to PFAS?
Leading the way with integrity and positioning our state at the forefront of this issue, Maine was first in the nation to enact a PFAS ban last year. However, this ban does not phase in until 2030.
General inquiries regarding PFAS should be directed to David Madore, Deputy Commissioner and Communications Director, David.Madore@maine.gov, 207-287-5842. Folks can also contact the Department of Environmental Protection directly by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
How can our community help?
Continue to support our local food system by buying local whenever possible. Now, more than ever, Maine farmers need our support. It’s our collective responsibility to meet this challenge for the health of our farms, communities, and future.
Donate to the PFAS Emergency Testing Fund established by MOFGA & Maine Farmland Trust, more information and the donation link can be found here: https://www.mofga.org/support-the-pfas-emergency-fund/
Rosemont customers can choose to support this fund through Rosemont’s Register Roundup. Round up your purchases to the nearest dollar at checkout and the difference will be donated directly to the PFAS Emergency Testing Fund established by MOFGA & Maine Farmland Trust.
Right now, there are two PFAS-related bills at the state level. Rosemont Market & Bakery is in support of the following legislation:
LD 1911 – An Act to Prohibit the Contamination of Clean Soils with So-called Forever Chemicals
LD 1875 – An Act to Address Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances Pollution from State-owned Solid Waste Disposal Facilities
- Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Website
- Maine Farmland Trust, Website & Direct Communication
- MOFGA, Website & Direct Communication