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.
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.