Read

Search form

Free Farmers, Food Liberty: This Fourth of July, Local Growers Declare Independence

Free Farmers, Food Liberty: This Fourth of July, Local Growers Declare Independence
Thu, 7/3/2014 - by Evan Wiig

Can real change take root in the aisles of a grocery store? In the past few decades, consumers the world over awoke to rapidly diminishing choice. We began asking what freedoms we still had left within this ever-conglomerating, homogenizing, alienating food system to truly determine how our next meal is grown, raised and brought to our plate.

Today, only a generation later, we find grocery store shelves swathed in new labels—local, artisan, organic—all claiming to empower shoppers with the information they need to choose, connecting them with the source. But do all these new options really give a voice to the farmers on the ground? Can a real food movement be driven by the expectations of consumers alone? And do these new, “enlightened” purchases give farmers the full freedom to truly grow by their values?

This Independence Day, we ask those growing our food to speak up. We ask them to reveal the very real obstacles between their production and consumers’ ever-loftier expectations. And we ask them to look forward to what’s possible by declaring their own statement of liberty. We call them “free farmers.” You can read the declaration here.

Discovering What Connects Us

Two farmers riding tractors on opposite sides of the world can today communicate with a push of a button, all without leaving the field. And likewise, consumers can today connect with producers through all variety of social media. Not every farmer carries a smartphone in the pocket of their overalls, nor do they have time to update their Twitter accounts. But in today's connected world, we should no longer have to rely on trade organizations, lobbyists or government departments to speak on farmers’ behalf.

That's why this month farmers are setting down their hoes and picking up cameras. The Farmers Guild – a new wave of California farmers, ranchers, chefs, artisans and sustainable food system advocates with a passion for feeding our local communities – is asking them to snap a photo of themselves holding a sign that begins with the words “free farmers” and concludes with their own declaration of what food freedom means to them.

From an intern in Mendocino, Calif., who writes "Free Farmers shouldn't have to look for loopholes," to celebrity agrarian Joel Salatin who responded, "Free Farmers are land-caressing multi-speciated direct-market entrepreneurs who have access to their own neighborhood to freely provide food that enables all parties to win," the perspectives of our farmers are many and diverse. That's why we want to hear from them.

Meanwhile, those with vocations beyond the field are taking the opportunity this July 4th to leave the dining table, step into some work boots and consider the farmer’s perspective – from chefs to schoolchildren to celebrated authors like Michael Pollan. Their statements speak to the eaters, the policy-makers, restaurateurs and to the aspiring young farmers and ranchers in this country. They’re declaring not only what freedom means to them but what it will take to make that freedom possible.

From market fluctuations to complex regulation, from the rising price of land to onerous contracts with corporate buyers that makes indentured servants of our local growers, the principles of even the most virtuous farmers often collide with the constraints of our modern food system, economy and culture. Today’s consumers want their food grown locally, organically, in harmony with our natural resources and by family farmers who provide social equity to all parties involved – but we also want it cheap, convenient, cosmetically flawless, centrally regulated and available year-round upon our slightest craving.

Labels offer poor substitutions for relationships. But for those, like me, who like their coffee despite living so high among the latitudes, they are sometimes necessary. Rather than visit Costa Rica to simply meet the harvester of my coffee beans to ensure the integrity of my purchase, I trust that the “Fair Trade” label will at least offer some assurance. But only by hearing from those farmers directly – if not across a table than on a screen – can I choose freely. Only together as one can we declare food liberty.

The Farmers Guild invites you to take a stand to empower farmers by completing the phrase “Free farmers…” however you see fit. What does Food Freedom mean to you? Simply write it down on a piece of paper with your name and share the photo by sending it to freefarmers@farmersguild.org. Find the movement on Twitter and Instagram at #freefarmers and #farmersguild, and on Facebook.

 

Add new comment

Sign Up

Article Tabs

Jeremy Corbyn, MPs

The anti-Corbyn forces within Labour might very well have achieved the complete opposite of what they aimed to achieve.

shady financial practices, financial crimes, Dodd-Frank Act, Roosevelt Institute, too big to fail, Glass-Steagall Act, Gerald Epstein, Juan Antonio Montecino

The average U.S. household loses over $100,000 to destructive activities of bankers and financiers.

Bernie Sanders supporters traveled to Philadelphia from every corner of the country this week to show their enduring support for his candidacy.

This week, as the DNC rages on, we're talking state surveillance – digging deep into the past and present with surveillance expert, Chip Gibbons from Defending Dissent

"We are in a political moment where we can dismantle not only the racist neoconservative Republican Party, but also the racist and equally destructive neoliberalism of the Democratic Party."

Greek privatizations, transit privatization, Panhellenic Railway Association, TrainOSE, water privatization, Thessaloniki Water Supply & Sewage, Greek austerity policies

Late last month, the Panhellenic Railway Association took to the streets to protest a slew of public transport privatizations scheduled to take place later this year. "The government defiantly and shamelessly gives away the national wealth," it said.

Posted 6 days 3 hours ago
Democratic National Convention, DNC, DNC protests, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Bernie supporters, Food & Water Watch, March for a Clean Energy Future

More than 10,000 people calling for a “clean energy revolution” filled the streets here Sunday.

Posted 3 days 6 hours ago
anti-fracking protests, Keep It In the Ground, protester arrests, undercover agents

Emails obtained through an open records act request show that the Lakewood Police Department in Colorado collected details about a BLM oil and gas lease protest from undercover officers as the event was being planned.

Posted 6 days 1 hour ago

“Reverse redlining” flooded communities of color with toxic mortgages, practically ensuring default.

Posted 6 days 11 hours ago
#WebOfDenial, climate denial, fossil fuel industry, Exxon climate lies

In the U.S. Senate, champions for climate action and accountability are loudly putting the blame on think tanks and denier-for-hire front groups that have created doubt about climate science.

Posted 6 days 11 hours ago
ISTANBUL, Turkey

Soldiers versus police versus a mob in the newsroom of Turkey’s most-watched news channel — and dozens of reporters to document it all.

#WebOfDenial, climate denial, fossil fuel industry, Exxon climate lies

In the U.S. Senate, champions for climate action and accountability are loudly putting the blame on think tanks and denier-for-hire front groups that have created doubt about climate science.

super rich, growing inequality, wealth inequality, joblessness, societal decay, pandemics, global terrorism

Perhaps they feel immune from the killings in the streets, for they rarely venture into the streets anymore. They don’t care about the great masses of ordinary people, nor do they think they need us.

Greek privatizations, transit privatization, Panhellenic Railway Association, TrainOSE, water privatization, Thessaloniki Water Supply & Sewage, Greek austerity policies

Late last month, the Panhellenic Railway Association took to the streets to protest a slew of public transport privatizations scheduled to take place later this year. "The government defiantly and shamelessly gives away the national wealth," it said.

employees with criminal records, criminal justice system, Dave’s Killer Bread, Hot Chicken Takeover, POP! Gourmet Foods, Drive Change, Greyston Bakery, banning the box

Companies like Hot Chicken Takeover, POP! Gourmet Foods, and Greyston Bakery are breaking down barriers.