By Adrien Salazar
The Food and Freedom Riders support the United Farm Workers. Photo by Hai Vo.

A month ago I wouldn’t have considered the work that I was doing any way historic. I had a limited knowledge of the way food and agriculture worked in America. Since then I have come to know the thunder rolling across the fields, through farms, and to our dinner tables, and I have come to know my part in it.

I became a Food and Freedom Rider on August 29, 2011. The Food and Freedom Rides were a journey in the legacy of the Freedom Rides of the civil rights movement.

Through my work at Green for All in Oakland, I connected with Navina Khanna from Live Real, organizer of the rides. A collaboration between Live Real and Rooted in Community — two groups working to build a just and sustainable food system in America — the Food and Freedom Rides sought to expose the harsh realities of America’s food system while highlighting community solutions to reclaim food and health.

The rides swept through Birmingham, Alabama, up through the midwest to Detroit, Michigan. The California leg of the rides started in San Diego and rode through the Central Valley, ending in Oakland.

The Food and Freedom Riders interviewed organic farmers, farm workers, youth, and community workers along the road to document stories of resilience.
I joined the rides in Fresno and immediately felt swept in the whirlwind. In my first day I met an enthusiastic organic raw milk dairy farmer, a raw food enthusiast who also was a family-farm owner in the Fresno countryside, and the California Secretary of Agriculture.

In this series of posts, I will document stories of the people I met and the realities I witnessed. Throughout the rides I saw the squalor and injustice of a broken food system. Yet I also met people fighting to transform that system into one that prioritizes the well-being of people and the environment. I saw that we — the youth, the new farmers, the organizers and entrepreneurs — are at the forefront of this transformation.

I too am a part of this history. I am working to build a more just and sustainable planet. It is part of the reason this blog exists. It is why I am doing the work I do now with my hands in the earth. Together we are pushing food and agriculture to be the source of life, health, and community abundance it can be. The next agrarian revolution is here. It is us.

My name is Adrien Salazar. I am a Food and Freedom Rider. And these are our stories.

A view from inside the Food and Freedom Ride.
This blog post is cross-posted from Adrien's blog and the Green for All blog.
You might have already heard that one of our Food & Freedom Riders & Real Food Fellows, Courtney Oats of Eupora, Mississippi, faced an arrest that almost prevented her from joining us on the first Food & Freedom Ride. If not, you can read more about her case here.

In Eupora, the court-appointed public defender is deeply entrenched in county politics, so Courtney sought outside counsel to fight multiple trump charges.  So far, she’s been unable to find a pro-bono attorney. Her court date is set for this Tuesday, September 27th.

We have been working hard with her to find a lawyer in the area, but Courtney cannot afford to pay for one. 

  We're trying to raise an additional $850 to secure a lawyer for her case.

Will you take a simple action to ensure Courtney has a fair trial, and a real chance at defending herself?

  These charges, and this trial, are just one example of dangerous and disrespectful harassment in Webster County, Mississippi. Courtney and her family are trying to do good for their community. Don't our taxpayer-funded police have something better to do than harass community activists?  Courtney and her family want to see a different culture of cooperation and caring for neighbors. They shouldn't be punished for this. 

  We can show Webster County police and the town of Eupora that the Oats are not alone, and they can't be harassed anymore.

  Donate here to Courtney's Legal Defense Fund.

Any amount you can give is deeply appreciated. And look out for more updates after the hearing on September 27th.

  Thank you for your support, that comes in so many ways.
   Anim, Navina, Hai, Sam, and the rest of the Live Real Team