It’s no secret that I’m passionate about local, sustainable food and humane animal agriculture. I’ve posted about local farms, I’ve talked about my own foibles with gardening and raising chicks, I’ve interviewed sustainable agriculture legend Joel Salatin, Jimmy and I even pulled up roots and moved to the middle of nowhere with the intention of growing our own food. So when I hear about government officials targeting small farms, it gets my britches in a bunch. Bigtime.
I found out about the government raid on Quail Hollow Farm through a post at Nourished Kitchen. I look to Jenny’s site for information on traditional foods, and have long admired her outreach programs like the self-funded WIC program and real food pantry. When I saw this post come in through my email, I was saddened, and I was furious too. Sadly, it’s one of many stories like this, where a family farm is targeted by an overzealous government official. Read and watch about the raid on Quail Hollow Farm’s private dinner event for their CSA shareholders:
Despite hiring a professional chef, despite using licensed kitchens and on-site preparation facilities and despite holding a private event for her guests, Laura and her farm were targeted, and the health inspector even deemed her professionally prepared, organic and farm-fresh foods unfit for her guests, her family and even her pigs – insisting that they pour bleach over the meal and suggested that she go buy food from the grocery store to serve her guests.
There’s something very broken about a system that calls genetically modified organisms, high fructose corn syrup, chemical additives, and food dyes safe, but considers farm fresh eggs, grandma’s fruit preserves, and fresh raw milk a criminal health hazard.
The reality is that farmers and outreach programs like the ones I mentioned above can be shut down in an instant by the overzealous whim of a government official. In Laura Bledsoe’s account of the night they shut down the dinner for private guests, she recollects that even after the health inspector forced them to pour bleach over their fresh, professionally-prepared food, after she called the police on the farm, even then she still couldn’t give a the cops a reason why they should write up a citation to the farmers. But, the night was already ruined, and hundreds of dollars of gourmet food was in the trash. Ridiculous.
It comes down to personal freedom
Whether I want to eat a box of chicken McNuggets or chow down on a locally-raised, free-range roast chicken should be MY CHOICE. Not the choice of an overzealous government official who chooses that moment to enact an arbitrary decision. It should be my inherent right as a human being to choose what food I feed myself, my family, and my animals. I think the fact that a government bureaucrat can step onto my property and tell me that I can’t serve food I have grown and prepared myself to my private guests is wrong. It’s unethical. It’s scary.
Does this story upset you? I think it should. Your right to support family farms, small businesses, artisan producers, and to choose what you feed your family is at risk. Even in America, we need to fight to keep our personal freedoms. Fight early, and fight often. Here’s how you can help.
Join the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund
Jimmy and I are both members of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. This organization provides legal support for farms and ranches that have been targeted in similar raids as the one Laura experienced last fall.
The FTCLDF is similar to the Home School Legal Defense Association, which advocates for parents’ rights to direct their children’s education and keep their freedom of choice with regards to schooling. Even as a kid, I knew how important the HSLDA was. My mom, a college-educated teacher, home schooled my brother, sisters, and me, and taught a few other friend’s children in our home. I remember the times we were harassed by government officials about zoning regulations and the “traffic” our tiny school of 15 kids in our home was causing to the neighborhood. It was comforting to my parents to know that there was an advocacy group dedicated to protecting their right to direct our schooling and advise them on their legal standing.
In the same way, the FTCLDF advocates for the rights of small farmers, fights for freedom of choice for consumers, and keeps an eye on government officials who would do damage to these small businesses by harassing, raiding, confiscating equipment and food, and throwing farmers into jail.
Right now, they’re holding their annual fundraiser, and donors can receive select gifts – a Weston A Price Foundation Tee-shirt, a copy of the book Folks, This Ain’t Normal, the film Farmageddon, and a limited edition lithograph of Early Haymaking in the Ozarks. For a donation of $250, you can attend a farm-to-table event at Joel Salatin’s legendary Polyface Farm.
Thomas Jefferson used strong words in the Declaration of Independence when he wrote:
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
Swarms of officers, indeed. If local food, sustainability, and freedom of choice are important to you, please consider joining the FTCLDF today. Even a small donation can help.
Passionate declarations about personal choice are going down in the comments. Leave yours.