From mid-spring to mid-autumn, my husband and I give ourselves over to local food. We eat it, live it, breathe it. Local foods and food activism consumes nearly every waking minute of our lives during this time: answering phone calls, attending conferences, meeting with municipal, county, state and even federal officials, visiting farms – it’s a mountain of work with very little thanks, but very good food.
We also serve a few farm-to-table dinners each year to help fund and support our outreach programs (like our self-funded WIC program and our real food bank). Small dinners draw about 50 people, but, at the time of the community’s annual harvest supper, our dinner draws upwards of 300 people who dine on local pasture-raised meats, organic vegetables, whole-grain sourdough bread and tree-ripened fruits picked only a day before.
Our farmers and our outreach programs can be shut down in an instant by the overzealous whim of a government official.
What frightens me most is that one day, I might need to make the same speech that Laura Bledsoe of Quail Hollow Farms did.
Last Autumn, Quail Hollow Farm’s Farm-to-table Dinner Was Targeted
And though we’re working in commercial kitchens, through a not-for-profit and buying only from certified sources, I’m terrified that one day, I’m going to have to make a speech like Laura Bledsoe did who saw an entire private dinner spoiled by an overzealous health inspector.
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.
How the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund Helped
When the health inspector arrived, a guest advised Laura to call the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund‘s 24/7 hotline to speak to an attorney, but it was already too late to save the food. But, not too late to save the evening. Gary Cox, Esq., the Fund‘s litigating attorney returned Laura’s call for help, he advised her of her rights and stayed on the phone while she shooed the health inspector off the farm.
Like Laura, I will turn to the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund where you can read the full story of the farm-to-table dinner and see additional videos of Laura, her guests and the health inspector who deemed the meal not even suitable for pigs.
Upset? Here’s what you can do.
Are you upset? You should be. Our collective right to support small farms as consumers and for small farms to, in turn, nourish our families is threatened, and it requires constant vigilance and a commitment from food advocates, farms and consumers.
How to Support the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund
If you see the terrible injustice in raids like this one, and you’re wondering what to do next, please consider becoming a member of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund which provides legal support for farms and ranches that have been targeted in similar raids as the one Laura experienced last autumn. Even a small donation can help to assuage the monumental burden that many farms face.
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 may attend a farm-to-table event at Joel Salatin’s legendary Polyface Farm. My family is flying from Colorado to Virginia for this event because we support the cause so greatly. We even support the Fund with a regular, recurring donation because their work means so very much to my family, and I encourage you to do the same if your resources allow.
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