Welcome to the first of our new series of articles about the organizations that we support at Harvest Market Natural Foods. We begin with an interview with Katherine Ghantous, Communications Director for the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) is a non-profit “protecting, defending, and broadening the rights and viability of independent farmers, artisanal food producers, and their consumers.“
Harvest Market: How would you describe the work of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund?
Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund: The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) protects, defends, and broadens the rights and viability of independent farmers, artisanal food producers, and their consumers. FTCLDF members receive unlimited consultation with attorneys on matters within the FTCLDF mission statement, access to contractual documents, e.g., herdshare contracts, a 24/7 hotline to connect with our attorneys, and the possibility of legal representation on matters that are within FTCLDF’s mission statement at no additional cost.
Harvest Market: What is the most pressing issue your organization and its membership are currently facing?
FTCLDF: We are working to expand our attorney network in all 50 states so we can serve more farmers. In order to expand we need to increase our financial resources.
Harvest Market: What are some ways that the average consumer can support the farmers and food producers in their community and beyond?
FTCLDF: Hug a farmer and thank them for their hard work. 🙂
Harvest Market: How much does the political landscape change the scope of your work?
FTCLDF: Our work continues no matter what the political landscape is, and it doesn’t matter what political party is in power. We need the support from all politicians to create laws that support farmers and support consumer’s ability to purchase food from those farmers; political affiliation does not change that.
Harvest Market: What is the most surprising part of your job?
FTCLDF: I spend a lot of time talking to our members, and it always surprises me how stressful farming can be. Farming is an all-consuming profession. Farmers often live on the farm, they rarely take time off, and it typically involves the whole family. It is about as personal of a profession as you can get. Our farmers have real worries, and real fears, that add to their already stressful situations. At FTCLDF we are doing what we can to alleviate those fears.
Harvest Market: What aspect of farming and food production is the most inspiring to you? And the most challenging?
FTCLDF: Farmers are faced with a culture of consumers that have not been brought up to understand the real price of food. Consumer culture is used to food that is poor quality, and has been subsidized which has deflated the cost. People look for less expensive food and don’t understand the work and care that goes into food that is grown and produced with integrity. So farmers have to get innovative for how to pay for the production, and this can be a real challenge. But on the other hand, this innovation and entrepreneurial spirit that is alive in farmers is inspiring.
Harvest Market: What would you say to an aspiring farmer?
FTCLDF: You’ve got this, you can do this, and we will have your back.
Harvest Market: Is there an achievement or contribution that you are most proud of? Why?
FTCLDF: This year I started calling our members to check in. Typically we don’t hear from our members unless they are encountering a legal problem, or there is an emergency- like an inspector on their farm. It has been gratifying to talk to our members, and thank them for their support, and to let them know we always have their back.
Harvest Market: Looking forward into 2019, what do you see as the next big issue for FTCLDF?
FTCLDF: We want to expand our attorney network so we can offer more support for more farmers. More farmers mean the food freedom movement is growing, and we are 100% supportive of food freedom.
Harvest Market: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our customers and staff at Harvest Market?
FTCLDF: We thank you for your support as longtime members and thank you for sharing our mission with your community.