Richard Croxdale

“(N)othing much happened in Texas until Jim Hightower was elected in 1983. He roared into office with a goal of improving family farmer’s opportunities to make a living. Farmers Market was seen as a tool to provide more of the value of the produce to the farmers and less to the dreaded middleman. It also provided healthier, tastier, and more […]

Jim Harrington

“Hightower’s tenure is certainly a meteor compared for the farmworkers compared to what it was and what it is now. It’s still it’s not as bad now as it was before. And that is because, I think, Hightower brought it along. You get to a place you can’t retrench too much. And I think that’s where it is. I’m not […]

Hightower and the Business of Organics in Texas

In this Substack, we continue to tell the forgotten story of Hightower and the Texas Department of Agriculture in the 1980s. One of the forgotten stories that should be remembered is the role Texas played in the Organic Food Industry. Texas was the first state to create a certifiable Organic label.  A certifiable label was essential to the expansion of […]

Supermarkets, the Cold War, and Hightower

I recommend Supermarket, USA, by Shane Hamilton, a grand book that details the role that supermarkets played in the Cold War.  The author calls it the Farm Wars.  Not as deadly as the nuclear bomb, but apparently a lot more effective.   In the 50s, the U.S imported a fully functioning supermarket into Tito’s Yugoslavia.  It was mightily impressive to […]

Cather Woods

“Jim Hightower was one of the best things for Texas in my experience, in my lifetime, and I’m 78 years old. So, I started working with farmers during that era. He was really nice. He worked hard to make sure that he made it better for blacks. By making sure that you knew what was there, by reaching out to […]

Ellen Widess

“One of the provisions they (the Trump-era EPA) wanted to get rid of was the farmworkers’ right to have their doctors, or any other advocate, a lawyer, priest, worker center, anybody, union, get access to their pesticide safety sheets to know what they were exposed to, what the risks were and to be able to go after the company and […]

Brigid Shea

“The (Clean Water Action) canvass had a unique ability to literally be this foot soldier army that could go out door-to-door and reach people who may not show up elsewhere, but who really agreed with the idea of better protections for the environment, and eliminating excessive use of pesticides that were poisoning people, and making opportunities for organic farmers to […]

Jesse Oliver

“(O)ne of my first formal relationships with agriculture was at the Black Farmers Conferences and getting some history of what was going on with them and what had transpired…The few who held on, who actually worked the land and stayed there, were still facing difficult times, mistreatment by USDA, especially with respect to support farm loans, crop loans, crop insurance, […]

Barbara Meister

“It’s Hightower’s philosophy, go out and scour the countryside, find these folks who are doing these innovative things and bring them into the government structure.Give them a computer, give them a secretary, give them a travel budget, and say, keep doing what you’re doing. But do it in here, do it throughout the whole state. I remember that being a […]

Pauline Medrano

“We went door-to-door into the different neighborhoods and found out neighborhood associations, PTAs, we promoted them however we could. It was grassroots. It was churches, PTAs, neighborhood associations, neighborhood groups. We’d say, ‘We want to start a farmers market. What would be a good day? What would be a good morning?’ Olmos Park (San Antonio) said, Monday morning. And that’s […]