October 20 – October 26, 2014
Each year, Food Day inspires Americans to change their diets and our food policies. Annually on October 24, thousands of events all around the country bring Americans together to celebrate and enjoy real food while also pushing for improved food policies. Food Day is about food justice. It’s about activating people around issues of Food Security and Food Sovereignty, about making sure all people have access to healthy, delicious, affordable, ethically-produced and culturally appropriate.
Why do we need Food Day? For one, our western diet is a prescription for ill health, as Food Day reveals. When we also factor the environmental costs, as Maureen Farmer does her in her op-ed piece, we hear the call to act more clearly. The Nourish Initiative sat down with Dr. Nadine Burke and Anna Lappé to talk about the importance of having access to fresh foods.
Luckily, lots of people are doing good work around the world. Food Tank explores innovative ways food workers are fighting for justice.
Over in California, Jessica Ferrell and Frog Hollow Farm successfully bring nutritious food to their local school district. The Center for Ecoliteracy highlights another success for California schools, telling the story of school superintendent Tony Smith who describes school food reform as “part of the basic work we have to do in order to correct systemic injustice, pursue equity, and give our children the best possible future.”
In the Midwestern part of the United States, Perennial Plate introduces us to Bhutanese refugees who themselves transported to their distant, native homes when they commune with each other over good food at a local community garden.
Inspired to shake up your food system? Get cooking with Renegade Lunch Lady Chef Ann Cooper, who returns with a bowl of seasonal, nutritious, delicious delight.
Food Day is a call to action to make a meaningful and long-lasting difference in our food system! Food day promotes safer, healthier diets, supports sustainable and organic farms, aims to reduce hunger and improves food access, petitions to reform factory farms to protect the environment and farm animals and supports fair working conditions for food and farm workers.
Why Food Day? The typical American diet is contributing to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems. Those problems cost Americans more than $150 billion per year. Plus, a meat-heavy diet takes a terrible toll on the environment.
Eating Real can save your own health and put our food system on a more humane, sustainable path. With America’s resources, there’s no excuse for hunger, low wages for food and farm workers, or inhumane conditions for farm animals.
Join the Movement! The most important ingredient in Food Day is you! Use October 24 to start—or celebrate—eating a healthier diet and putting your family’s diet on track. Food Day is not just a day; it’s a year-long catalyst for healthier diets and a better food system.
The concept of food security began as a consumer-focused statement, one designed to protect people from going hungry, but it made no mention of the needs of farmers or the environment. Forty years later that definition has only slightly broadened.
Kristin Reynolds, a professor at the New School for Public Engagement in New York City, notes that “food security has now been reinterpreted in some places as community food security, as access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food not just on an individual level, but within the entire community.”
As Reynolds notes, it’s not enough for a community to have access to food. It’s equally important to understand where that food came from and at what cost. A culture’s social stability is at stake.
“For many people, the technologies and policies offered to provide food security are very much like being in prison,” author and activist Raj Patel observes. “Government will say, ‘We are handing the world over to big corporations so they can produce commodity crops, then you’ll have to eat them. And we’ll supplement your income so you can afford these basic commodity crops.’ But that’s like being given a voucher for McDonald’s and a bag of vitamins to cover the nutritional difference. That’s not freedom.”
Coined in 1993 by La Via Campesina (“The Peasant’s Way”), food sovereignty is a community’s right to decide how they’re fed. “You can certainly have food security under dictatorship, but you can’t have food sovereignty,” Raj Patel notes. “You need democracy for food sovereignty to happen. Food sovereignty is a deep and expansive idea that unfortunately we see too little of. Food sovereignty requires discussion. It takes putting people around the table, with meetings to figure out water and food are shared, and how hunger is eradicated. It looks a lot like a bunch of food policy councils. It looks a lot like kids learning at school where their food comes from. It looks like a food system free from agricultural subsidies and free from the marketing that agriculture is allowed to employ on our children. Most of all it’s characterized by conversations around hunger, poverty, and community. Those kinds of conversations are happening from Detroit to Oakland and that’s something to be celebrated.”
“Forging the Food Justice Path” is a chapter from the Center for Ecoliteracy’s book Ecoliterate: How Educators Are Cultivating Emotional, Social, and Ecological Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman, Lisa Bennett, and Zenobia Barlow (Jossey-Bass, 2012).
“Forging the Food Justice Path” focuses on Tony Smith, superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) when the Center for Ecoliteracy (CEL) began working with the district. “It’s not that we will get to the food stuff after everything else,” said Smith. He described school food reform as “part of the basic work we have to do in order to correct systemic injustice, pursue equity, and give our children the best possible future.”
Nourish empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment, by driving consumer choice and civic action with breakthrough research and an informed public. Dr. Nadine Burke is the Medical Director of the Bayview Child Health Center. She oversees the operations of the health center and provides care to children and youth living in the Bayview-Hunters Point community of San Francisco. She has conducted research on food access in vulnerable communities and speaks passionately about issues such as food, health, and the environment. Anna Lappé is a widely respected author and educator, known for her work as an expert on food systems and as a sustainable food advocate. The co-author or author of three books and the contributing author to ten others, Anna’s work has been widely translated internationally and featured in The New York Times, Gourmet, Oprah Magazine, among many others.
Burmese, Iraqi and Bhutanese refugees find themselves transported to their distant, native homes when in the garden and kitchen, communing with each other over good food.
The Perennial Plate is an online weekly documentary series dedicated to socially responsible and adventurous eating. Chef and Activist, Daniel Klein and Filmmaker Mirra Fine are traveling the world exploring the wonders, complexities and stories behind the ever more connected global food system.
Mother Jessica Ferrell puts education into action. Having recently completed the Stanford Prevention Research Center “Healthy 4 All”, Jessica began promoting nutrition in her community’s schools through edible gardens.
Jessica tackled a challenging issue: she made the school gardens sustainable within the entire district, spreading the impact of the gardens throughout the community. Even more, Jessica helped form an “Edible Education Community”, a group which included invested teachers, district employees, parent volunteers, and representatives from Stanford, Slow Food, and Frog Hollow Farm.
Food justice to workers and eaters is an essential, but often overlooked, aspect of the Global Food Movement. Food Tank shares nine tales of organizations fighting for fair living wages and treatment for farm workers, the availability of good food to those in lesser developed nations, gender equality in the food system, and other basic human rights.
Title: Food Security
Location: Erika Allen’s Backyard, West Garfield Park, Chicago, IL
Featuring: Erika Allen, National Program Director, Growing Power, Ayo, Age 2
Found on Page 219 of LOCAL: The New Face of Food & Farming in America
Food Security, says Erika Allen, means “Having consistent year round access to safe, local, affordable and culturally appropriate food that is grown, raised, produced and moved about in manners that are responsible to the environment while reflecting a consumption of natural resources that is equitable with a view to our offspring seven generations from now.”
When Erika moved onto this street five years ago she set out to create a safe, nurturing habitat and to show her neighbors what could be done to transform and bring into balance even the most challenged communities.
Erika grows heirloom tomatoes, lemon cucumbers, suyo long cucumbers, Italian eggplants, ping tung eggplants, blanco eggplants, okra, ground cherry endive, cosmic purple carrots, nante carrots, leeks, redbor kale, dwarf curled kale, Russian kale, dandelion greens (red rib), scarlet runner beans, fever few, chamomile, thyme, table grapes, sunflowers and lots of basil (and that’s just her summer crop).
Did you know that institutional purchasing accounts for 2/3rds of the U.S. economy (that’s 10.1 trillion dollars a year)? It’s no wonder that we – Fair Trade Campaigns – are focusing our efforts on building relationships and educating constituents and leaders of institutions. We are excited to celebrate Food Day (October 24th) and Fair Trade Month (October) by helping communities come together in support of sustainable and ethically just food.
Our “Share the Fair” program is about educating your community through one-on-one meetings with community leaders, presentations to organizations/workplaces/classrooms, Fair Trade focused assemblies, and more. This focus on direct education seeks to close the gap between awareness and true understanding of Fair Trade.
Farm to Table Cycle: A Journey for Change is a 16-day, 400-mile solo bicycle and photography journey launched by national non-profit Wholesome Wave to raise awareness about local food systems. Farm to Table Cycle unveils the many facets of our country’s food system, showcasing the critical building blocks that make up a healthy, thriving food system. It shares the story of the countless Americans who work diligently and tirelessly to shape our food system into one that is more equitable, more sustainable and more delicious. Cyclist and world-class photographer Glenn Charles will stop at three dozen farms, farmers markets, fisheries, schools, food pantries, retail outlets, restaurants, and more as he winds his way north along the New England coast.
This entry finds Glenn seeing Food Justice played out first hand. “Walking along the urban streets of Dorchester, MA it was a welcoming sight to find a thriving and bountiful farm beaming with delicious produce.”
Launched over two decades ago, The Food Project began with the idea that agriculture could provide a setting for youth to confront differences in background. Since then this non-profit has expanded tremendously, offering well-developed youth programs while also running production farms that feed the underserved in the area. The fact that they produce $450,000 dollars worth of produce a year suggests they are no small venture.
The Food Project works with a solution-oriented mindset, directing their energy in ways that benefit more community than one. Youth in the program operate the farm, build raised beds for people in their community, and become food justice advocates through their time at the project. Moreover, The Food Project’s farms have become community hubs in a neighborhood where there is very little other green space. “The greenhouse is definitely the most magical place, a place where community gathers and all sorts of people come together.”
Sutton Kiplinger, the Greater Boston Regional Director places particular emphasis on the unique way The Food Project impacts participating youth. Instead of youth concluding: “I didn’t like vegetables and now I do,” at the end of their involvement they often develop an even more nuanced and empowering approach. “At the end of the program kids are coming to realize: ‘McDonalds doesn’t care about me so I’d rather not give them my money.’”
As Sutton guided us around these agricultural learning spaces she described the myriad hopes she has for restructuring the food system: “Long term there needs to be a rebalancing of all the relationships in the food system. A food system is an ecosystem and it all affects each other. The relationship between the consumer and the farmer is just one relationship we need to mend.”
Glenn Charles is a seasoned adventure traveler and photographer. Since 2009, he has traveled more than 20,000 miles by human powered transportation, including sea kayaking the Inside Passage of Alaska and the Atlantic Ocean from FL to ME, Cycling the southern and western perimeter of the US, biking Alaska, Morocco, the Yukatan, and others. Glenn pairs his travels with stories, sharing his adventures via world class photographs. He is passionate about sustainable food, supporting local farmers, and improving America’s health – both through human powered transportation and food.
Wholesome Wave strives to create a vibrant, just and sustainable food system for everyone. By making fresh, healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables affordable and available, Wholesome Wave empowers low-income community members to make healthier food choices. Results from last year’s programming demonstrate that 90% of participants in our Double Value Coupon Program increased their fruit and vegetable consumption and 41.6% of participants in the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program decreased their BMI. Each year our programs also impact over 3,500 participating farmers, who increase their revenues as a result of our programs. With programs in 25 states and DC, Wholesome Wave’s innovative initiatives are improving health outcomes among low-income families, generating additional revenue for small and mid-sized farm businesses and bolstering local and regional economies.
Title: Food Sovereignty
Location: East New Orleans, Louisiana
Featuring: Xuyen Pham
Found on Page 220 in Local: The New Face of Food and Farming in America
Xuyen Pham fled Vietnam with her husband and children at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. After months in Southeast Asian refugee camps, they were moved to Fort Chaffee in Arkansas. The family was eventually sponsored by a hotel owner in Oklahoma, but the cold prevented too much so they moved again, settling in the “Mary Queen of Vietnam”, a community in East New Orleans.
Twenty years later, after Xuyen lost her New Orleans home again, this time to Hurricane Katrina in 1995, she turned the property into a farm to feed her community. Xuyen’s farm is right in the middle of a suburban housing track in East New Orleans. Here, she stands amidst taro plants in in her home garden. The plant stems are a base ingredient in traditional soups and congees found on most Vietnamese dinner tables. By growing taro and other vegetables she keeps Vietnamese traditions alive in her community.
For Xuyen, food sovereignty requires both livelihood and self-determination. It’s the ability of community members to control food access independently of outside food sources. It’s community elders grow traditional fruits and vegetables and fisher folk go shrimping, fishing, and crabbing to sell at local stores, the local Saturday farmer’s market, and most importantly, to feed their families and community members.
Maureen Farmer is master gardener and the founder of The Farmer’s Garden. She is an avid gardener, adjunct horticultural professor and a former Board member of Urban Oaks Organic Farm in Connecticut.
In this article, Maureen explores food justice on the farm.
Food justice the right to grow, sell and eat healthy food. There are three parts to food justice: making healthy food available to everyone, growing food using sustainable methods, fair treatment of farm workers. While there is an increase in the number of people who grow a portion of their own food and/or shop at their local farmers’ market, many people live in food deserts and lack easy access to fresh produce. I’m always happy to read about people growing food on vacant lots or in the yards of abandoned buildings. This is proof that people are truly interested in and willing to work for fresh vegetables, fruit and herbs.
Growing food on large monoculture farms and spraying it with an increasing amount of pesticides and herbicides is not sustainable. I’ve read several studies that have shown that planting genetically engineered crops (GMOs) has led to an increase of millions of pounds of pesticides and herbicides sprayed on agricultural fields. This has also resulted in the growth of super weeds that have become resistant to commonly used herbicides.
I’ve recently read that chemical companies want to introduce even stronger chemicals to combat these super weeds. The cycle will never end. These stronger chemicals will result in plants evolving to be even more herbicide resistant. Of course, this means more profits for the chemical companies at the expense of sustainability and even more potentially harmful chemicals on many people’s food. Not everyone can grow their own produce using sustainable methods or afford organic food.
Farm workers are one of the worst treated groups of laborers in the U.S. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average more than one farm worker dies every day. Farm work is seven times more fatal than the private industry average. Injuries in the agricultural field are 20 percent higher than the private industry average leading to hundreds of injuries on farms every day.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor reports that the most commonly reported injuries are related to exposure to the elements, dangerous levels of pesticide exposure, farm equipment injuries and heat stress. Farm workers do the hard work that it takes to feed us, yet they receive very few of the benefits and labor law protections that most employees other industries receive.
Farms that employ ten or less workers are exempt from the Occupational Safety Heath Administration (OSHA) field sanitation standards. Many farm workers do not have access to clean drinking water, toilets or a way to wash their hands.
In spite of all of these injustices, there are many people and organizations within the U.S. and across the world working hard to make a difference in the area of food justice. Hundreds of these organizations are small and are working toward food justice within local communities. Use the web to find an organization with an office or a project in your area and volunteer to help promote food justice. It will probably be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have.
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