How I Look Past the Negativity, and Stay Positive, and Committed, in the Food Rights Struggle
By Liz Reitzig
This is Part 2 of Liz Reitzig’s guest post.
One of the things I do to help people access real foods in my area is I help run a buying club that makes local deliveries of real, non-GMO foods. About two and a half years ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began an undercover investigation and sting operation on my buying club and on one of the farmers supplying fresh, healthy food to the members.
As the FDA brought charges against our beloved Amish farmer and as the case made its way through the courts, I watched in amazement as the wonderful beneficiaries of this farmer rallied to support him! People bought extra food, sent letters of encouragement and acknowledgement, paid into a legal fund for him, rallied on his behalf, alerted local news media, and generally got active about the use of force against a peaceful farmer who supplied food for his community.
Unfortunately, the force and violence from the FDA eventually led the farmer to shut down in order to protect his family. The actions of a few individuals at the FDA shut down a wonderful farm, put a small family farm out of business, and deprived a community of their food source.
But only for a short time. Because of the cohesiveness of the group and the action and dedication of the community this farmer created, we were able to quickly find new farmers to work with while simultaneously leaving our previous farmer feeling supported and with great hope.
This is an example of the effectiveness of community support for our food producers. It works!
Everyone reading this is in a different place right now--some might be like the chickens, some like the pigs, and some of you may have never bought food directly from a farmer before or even known where your food comes from.
But in this ballet of initiative and synergistic endeavors to secure our freedoms for future posterity, everyone has a role to play. Everyone can do something!
Wherever you are in your activism, supporting your food producers is an important step. To those who have a deeper understanding of what our producers face and have taken an active role in supporting them, I acknowledge you for that. For those who haven’t, today is your new starting place!
We may not all be the pigs in the story I related in Part 1, but we can at the very least wholeheartedly support those who are giving their lives over to it! All of us who are involved have the option today to reach out to others and ask them to become involved—to share the responsibility.
Imagine how different our landscape, job scape and economy would look if every American family took steps to join a CSA, purchase from a farmers market, grow some of their own food, or otherwise contribute to securing our agriculture heritage.
Every time I catch myself saying “that’s not possible.” Or, “It’s too hard” or “I do not have enough time,” I practice saying, “What would be possible?”
It’s true that we all have to deal with our daily lives, our time constraints, and the choices we have made in the past. But these are also not limits. What is possible? What could our food system look like if the community worked together? What are your measures of success for a local food system? What do you want to see happen? And what can YOU do to make it happen?
While it might not be realistic to think that all of us can immediately take on production of all our food, or run a CSA or buying club, buy a farm, or engage full time in activism, there are tangible ways we can each immediately become responsible participants in our food production.
It takes a community to make a local food system work! When you think of the “pigs” from our story and the commitments those members of our food system make, the “contributions” from the chickens become so much more than just the face value of the contribution. Every time you give it is an affirmation and endorsement of the commitments that our food producers make. It is an acknowledgement of them and their work.
Whatever you have to offer, whatever you can give or do--do it! Our food producers are our lifeblood. Let them know you believe in the beauty of their commitment!