In an inspiring article from April 2013, farmer and activist Joel Salatin elucidates what it is like, as a farmer, for people to ask him what they can do. At the end of the article, he notes:
“The point is that our decisions are not made in a vacuum. When we decide that participating in the soccer league is more important for the children than eating a locally-sourced, home cooked meal around the dinner table, we build a certain kind of farm and food system. When lots of people do that, it changes the face of food, rural economies, farm families, wellness, and familial cohesion. It might even affect our children’s attitudes toward aging parents–send them to the old folks’ leagues, rather than fixing up the back bedroom for elder care.”
So what are some of the things we can do in our daily lives to support farmers in what they do and, simultaneously, perpetuate Food Freedom?
1. Cooking at home
When we cook at home, we have the power to choose the foods that best nourish our families. We can learn to prepare these foods in a nutrient dense way that fosters the health of our families while supporting the farmers we love.
2. Patronizing Farmers Markets and local food producers
There are plenty of resources available now to help you find local producers and connect with them. Take advantage of these resources. Connect with other local food people and learn from each other! The local markets are some of your best places to find out what is happening in the world of food production. As a huge bonus, they are also tons of fun!
3. Telling our farmers “Thank You”
What could be more simple or obvious than this? Our farmers love to hear it. It feels good to say. It can’t be said enough. These simple words are like fuel to our wonderful food producers who literally toil the fields so that we can eat well. I am grateful that I do not have to milk cows at 4am in the bitter cold all winter long. And I make sure to tell my milk farmer how grateful I am for this!
4. Participating in our own food production
Whether it’s a windowsill herb pot or a full yard garden, homesteading or beyond, participating in our own food production has numerous benefits to overall support of food freedom. First, we are learning how to do this ourselves. It is fun, engaging and informative. Further, by participating, on any level, we are saying that it is something worthy of our time and attention. This inspires others to do the same fostering an attitude of acceptance.
5. Show up
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of supporting food freedom involves using our bodies to show solidarity with those farmers who are under attack from the government. In his book, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Food Rights, David Gumpert shows how this kind of support transforms an incredibly challenging situation for farmers into one of hope. He also shows the flip side of what happens to our food freedom when people do not show up. While showing up to court dates and legislative hearings is important, on a separate level, showing up to farmers markets, potlucks and community movie screenings is also imperative.
6. Donating to farmers legal funds or relief funds
Can you imagine what it is like to have your entire livelihood threatened? Can you relate to not just being threatened with jail, but on top of that, not having any idea how your family will pay the bills during your court proceedings? What about if what you are doing one day is perfectly legal and a change in regulation makes it criminal overnight? How will support your family while you change your operation? How will you pay the mounting legal fees? How will you pay to change your farming system to become compliant? How can you support your family while you work to change the laws or regulations that make what you’re doing illegal? These, and a million others, are the questions that our farmers face when the inspector, agent or compliance officer comes to the farm. Every time we donate to any legal defense fund in support of farmers, we are not only contributing to their funds, we are endorsing their continued persistence in farming and changing the regulatory landscape. By our mere act of contributing $5-10, we are adding value to their lives and their missions.
Wherever you are in your personal journey toward clean living and local food, thank you for joining me in mine. I look forward to sharing it with you.