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

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.

 

Article Tabs

I removed the flag not only in defiance of those who enslaved my ancestors in the southern United States, but also in defiance of the oppression that continues against black people globally in 2015.

Stingray, activist surveillance, surveillance programs, KingFish, Triggerfish, Harris Corporation, California Electronic Privacy Act, ACLU, unwarranted surveillance

The multi-agency effort to acquire a controversial cellphone surveillance device would make it possible for Oakland and Fremont police to scoop up data from everyone in a given area – dragnet style.

Micah White, Occupy Wall Street, movement strategies, movement tactics, mass protests, Black Lives Matter, The End of Protest

The co-creator of Occupy Wall Street has advice for the next generation of social movements: “Never protest the same way twice.”

The HRA protects the right to life, liberty, security, a fair trial, respect for private life and freedom of expression – it also bans torture, slavery and discrimination.

By making the cost of breaking the law outweigh the cost of following it, business owners will be deterred from committing the crime in the first place.

Fight for $15, $15 minimum wage, bank bailouts, corporate subsidies,

Municipal leaders should be commended for acknowledging the current wage is too low – but phasing in a higher wage over many years is unacceptable in an economy where costs of living are rising and wages are falling.

Posted 2 days 15 hours ago
Move Your Money, Wells Fargo crimes, illegal foreclosure, subprime mortgage lending, predatory loans

The only way the big banks will feel something similar to the loss and harm they caused is if you Move Your Money from those institutions to second tier banks, community banks and credit unions – so join the campaign now.

Posted 6 days 13 hours ago
right-wing extremists, right-wing attacks, jihadists, New America Foundation, War on Terror, Charleston massacre

Right-wing attacks have killed almost twice as many Americans.

Posted 6 days 13 hours ago
Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, single-payer health care, uninsured Americans, right to healthcare

“What the United States should do is join every other major nation and recognize that healthcare is a right of citizenship,” said presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who advocates a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system.

Posted 6 days 13 hours ago

bout time! Timeline of same-sex marriage in the United States

Posted 4 days 14 hours ago
carbon emissions, mercury emissions, EPA, Clean Air Act

The Supreme Court invalidated a key Obama administration environmental regulation aimed at limiting emissions of mercury and other hazardous pollutants mainly from coal-fired power plants.

Paris climate summit, carbon emissions, climate crisis, climate justice movement, climate action

Nothing less than a systemic transformation of our societies, our economies, and our world will suffice to solve the climate crisis and close the ever-increasing inequality gap.

A yes vote would mean depression almost without end – by contrast, a no vote would at least open the possibility that Greece, with its strong democratic tradition, might grasp its destiny in its own hands.

bout time! Timeline of same-sex marriage in the United States

Move Your Money, Wells Fargo crimes, illegal foreclosure, subprime mortgage lending, predatory loans

The only way the big banks will feel something similar to the loss and harm they caused is if you Move Your Money from those institutions to second tier banks, community banks and credit unions – so join the campaign now.

Sign Up