The Tug of War Between Traditional Farming & Corporate-Produced Food: Part Two - Moms Across America

The Tug of War Between Traditional Farming & Corporate-Produced Food: Part Two

The Food Freedom Movement

A promising leap toward more food sovereignty in the US has been the deregulation of local food production and sales at the state level. Several states have passed bills to legalize or expand raw milk distribution, “cottage food” sales, and on-farm slaughter — regulations that had been prohibitive to traditional small farms in the past.

“Cottage food” laws permit the sale of small-production-foods without the burdens of fully licensed retail foods. State cottage food laws limit sales by the type of food products sold, the locations of sale, and the amount of revenue that a cottage food production can make to receive the protections of the law. A cottage food operation does not have to be licensed, regulated, or inspected, by state law.

Texas, for example, has passed many bills helping small farmers and local artisan producers, thanks to the advocacy of the nonprofit, the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA). The state of Maine has issued a “Right To Food” amendment to the state constitution, providing an avenue to farm healthy food outside the corporate controlled food system. Food freedom laws let food producers sell almost any homemade food, including canned, pickled, and refrigerated goods, aside from those that contain meat, without any cap on sales or any licensing, permitting, or inspection requirements.

Four states have laws that can be considered food freedom acts: Maine, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. Utah and Wyoming are the most far-reaching, whereas Maine and North Dakota provide broad exemptions from food safety oversight. Food freedom laws have led to an expansion in food sales outside of the corporate conglomerates' monopoly. Wyoming farmers markets, for example, have grown by 70% since the Food Freedom Act took effect in 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In North Dakota, the North Dakota Farmers Market and Growers Association estimates there are around 600 vendors at farmers markets, the majority of whom operate under the state's food freedom law.

Broader Certifications Would Shift Toward Healthier Farming

Another potential game-changer for food freedom could be broader organic certification. Joseph Mercola recently reported that because smaller traditional farms often use many organic practices, they could be certified as organic if the process were more accessible.

Small farmers are practicing regenerative and organic methods (because traditionally, organic is just how it was done). Their practices actually sequester carbon in the soil, but they don't receive recognition or rewards for their biodynamic practices, because they are not USDA certified. Although their methods are far healthier for the environment and produce healthier food, the organic certification process is too cumbersome and expensive. Why aren’t carbon credits offered for these farmers, like they are dolled out to corporate conventional farms that dump excessive levels of toxic chemicals on their crops?

A more accessible certification process would allow for rewards in the marketplace. Incentives for healthier farming practices and avoiding lumping in small traditionally farmed foods with conventional chemical-bathed crops could go a long way toward healthier food.

Small to medium-sized, multi-generational family farms tend to be far healthier because all agriculture was “organic” until the introduction of chemical fertilizers and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the mid-20th century. This shift to agrochemicals also coincides with the rise in chronic diseases over the past 80 years – clearly attributable, in part, to the food supply. Therefore, policies encouraging and rewarding the traditional practices of these farms, instead of crushing them with unscientific, arbitrary ideas about how much carbon animals produce, etc. seems reasonable. In an interview with Mercola, Cofounder and International Director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), Ronnie Cummings said:

If you look across the world of farming systems that are really increasing soil fertility, putting more carbon in the soil, increasing water retention, preserving or even expanding biodiversity and providing a decent living. These farms are using all the techniques of organic and regenerative and these are the best practices we need to be looking at and that need to be rewarded for their organic plus practices.

Instead of being rewarded, farms like these have been punished and threatened under the guise of climate control, using carbon emissions regulations. Carbon credits and ESG (environmental, social, and governance) funds, according to Cummings, are perpetuating “greenwashing” (false environmentalism) and benefiting wealthy corporations at the expense of small farmers. If farmers were compensated for their stewardship of the land in the ways of true organic and regenerative practices, food production would be far freer and healthier.

Broader certifications and loosening of the regulatory noose for small to medium farmers would also encourage more regenerative and organic practices, encouraging farmers to employ creative solutions. One example of innovative healthier farming practices is the Billion Agave Project in Guanajuato, Cummings reported that Mexican farmers are utilizing desert agave species to transform their food system. By fermenting agave leaves into nutritious animal feed, farmers are reducing reliance on water-intensive genetically modified (GMO) crops like corn. At the same time, cows are herbivores, so the leaves give them the type of food that keeps them healthy as opposed to grains that cause reliance on antibiotics because they are incompatible with bovine digestive systems. The health of the animals passes on exponentially to the health of consumers.

A holistic and realistic view of climate, supporting small to medium, local artisan farmers, and organic and regenerative agriculture – all add up to a necessary shift for the future of food. Learn how to support food freedom and general health in your community with Moms Across America’s guide to Co-ops. We can also create sustainable, healthy food access, one street at a time, with the Neighborhood Food Network. Together, we can make a difference and keep adding weight to the right end of the tug-of-war rope! Our children and communities depend on it.

Showing 3 reactions

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • Georgann Putintsev
    commented 2024-04-08 15:23:17 -0400
    I Am very hopeful for more smaller organic farms that produce good quality produce, canned and jammed 4H type goods for local American consumers to enjoy. Good compassionate loving stewardship is necessary to maintaining healthy life choices for generations of consumers. I hope our Dept of Agriculture steps up to the smaller healthy farm to plate mentality.
  • Lady Carla Davis
    commented 2024-03-27 10:46:20 -0400
    Thank you Angela for sharing this vital organic regenerative farming information with consumers and supporters of Moms Across America .
  • angela braden
    published this page in Blog 2024-03-27 10:08:13 -0400

Follow Us Here