So the theme of my post today is food justice. These issues are fresh on my mind after doing the food justice urban hike-a-thon this weekend with CAGJ to raise funds for the new book. I learned so much about my local food shed and the amazing work communities are doing to take back their food systems and promote social justice, self-reliance and strengthen their local economy!
What You Need to Know about Food Justice
Food: For people who advocate for food justice, food is seen as a basic human right. Good, safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food in adequate quantities is fundamental to sustain a healthy life and promote human dignity. For more see: http://www.viacampesina.org/en/
Food Justice: Food Justice is when communities exercising their right to grow, sell and eat healthy food. Healthy food is fresh, nutritious, affordable, culturally appropriate and grown locally with care for the well being of the land, workers and animals. People practicing food justice leads to a strong local food system, self-reliant communities and a healthy environment. For more see: http://justfood.org/food-justice
Food Sovereignty: A term coined by Via Campesina, namely, the claimed “right” of peoples to define their own food, agriculture, livestock and fisheries systems, in contrast to having food largely subject to international market forces. The policies surrounding food sovereignty encourage people to take back their food system. For more see: http://www.viacampesina.org/en/
Sustainable agriculture: Sustainable agriculture is a way of raising food that is healthy for consumers and animals, does not harm the environment, is humane for workers, respects animals, provides a fair wage to the farmer, and supports and enhances rural communities. For more see: http://www.sustainabletable.org/intro/whatis/
Some Issues in Food Justice
Food desserts: Areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious food, which are most prevalent in low-income, minority neighborhoods and communities. These deserts are linked to diet-related health issues and obesity due to an abundance of fast food and processed foods and supermarket shortages. According to the US Dept. of Agriculture, 23.5 million Americans currently live in food deserts, including 6.5 million children.
Agricultural subsidies: Large agri-businesses get fixed prices from the government ($60 billion in 2008) for food production, making staple foods (like wheat, corn, and soybeans) unnaturally cheep. Not only has this had serious health consequences for Americans, making the least nutritious foods most affordable, but it has destroyed the livelihoods of millions of small farmers around the world and increased starvation for the international poor.
Farm worker rights: The primary goal of industrial farms is to maximize profits, even if it threatens the well-being of farm workers, the men and women who help bring food to our tables. Workers on industrial farms and those in the food-processing industry are often subject to hazardous working conditions and unfair labor management practices. Also, immigrant workers generally face hurdles in asserting their legal rights, due to limited English language skills, poverty, and lack of familiarity with the laws and regulations governing their work.
GMO crops: There is an ongoing debate about the pros and cons of genetically modified organisms in our food system. From the lack of seed sovereignty and crop diversity that goes along with GM crops, we have witnessed everything from hundreds of farmer suicides in India to issues of toxicity and patent problems, putting many smaller farms out of business. However, there is also a flipside in the debate on GM crops, which is that they can improve the shelf life and the nutritional quality of food, feed the world’s poor, and lead to more effective bioremediation and disease treatment.
How to get involved
The Farm Bill that will set policy for the next 5 years is currently under debate, so contact your local reps, join the fight with a local nonprofit or your community, and make your voice heard in any way you can! If these issues surrounding food, health, social justice and dignity are as important to you as they are to me, then be the change YOU wish to see…
Rosemary Rice & Beans
Fresh parsley and rosemary
Rinse greens and prepare rice with a large stem of rosemary. While heating beans, grill or roast veggies. Arrange greens on bottom, add rice and vegetables, and top with lots of veggies. Place lots of fresh herbs on top. Would also pair well with roasted chicken, grilled/steamed fish or fried tofu! Enjoy and remember, fight the food fight! XO