-by Nicole Civita
Upon their arrival in the United States, my great-grandparents began farming a piece of land in what is now New York City’s borough of Queens. Over the course of my grandfather’s life, American agriculture – and the way we relate to food – changed dramatically. As a child, he snuck eggs from the chicken coop and ate them immediately, unwashed and raw. He chased his escaped hogs down Metropolitan Avenue. He woke before the sun to tend a bevy of vegetable crops and fruit trees. As an adult, he continued to cultivate a small patch of land in our backyard, growing the most succulent tomatoes and plentiful pole beans I’ve ever encountered. In his final years, when his bones were too creaky for gardening, he grumbled loudly and often about the endless acres of soybeans surrounding his retirement village: “What’s all this for? And how are we supposed to feed ourselves?”
As a food lawyer, I ask those same questions – loudly and often. I consider it my calling to work on behalf of the intrepid individuals who are trying to change the face of modern farming, fix food, and nourish the next generations.
I am fortunate to be on the faculty of the LL.M. Program in Agricultural and Food Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law, where I get to track the latest developments in food law and policy, analyze how the law shapes our food system, and push for a more equitable, just, and sustainable food future. As the Director of the University of Arkansas’s newly formed Food Resiliency Initiative, I facilitate interdisciplinary analysis of food system challenges to assure that healthy, adequate food is available and accessible to all – and that farmers and food producers can do well by doing good. I also work with experts in diverse fields to propose full-scope, actionable policy solutions that support responsible, resilient, and just agrifood systems – those that are able to withstand both short term disruptions like market fluctuations and acute natural disasters, as well as long term challenges like climate change, population growth, biodiversity loss, and chronic disease. My work puts me right at the intersections between food and public health, conservation, disaster-preparedness, business and economics, land tenure, fair labor standards, community development and planning, sovereignty, and social justice. It’s a gratifying place to work.
Today, I am excited to announce that I will be putting my food systems expertise into practice. By working of counsel with Foscolo & Handel PLLC, I look forward to providing concrete and strategic support to stakeholders throughout the food chain. I am eager to help my clients understand the network of legal authorities that frame their farming operations and food businesses. I offer a deep understanding of the individual and systemic challenges that farmers and food businesses face and aim to help my clients explore innovative, efficient solutions.
I couldn’t ask for better colleagues in this effort. Jason, Lauren, and Michele bring a dynamic balance of creativity and exactitude to the practice of law. I am grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with them and contribute to their work, which is both grounded and ground-breaking. Together, we can help you navigate the legal requirements and minimize the risks inherent in the important and delicious work of putting food on the table.
For legal services, reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org / 917-572-8073
For information about the Food Recovery Project, Food Resiliency Initiative, or my academic work: email@example.com / 479-575-2456.