The Slow Food USA Manifesto for Equity, Inclusion and Justice
Slow Food USA is dedicated to the development of an equitable, just, and healthy local food system– one that truly works for all of us. We know that injustices– which include such things as theft of land, farmworker, fisher-harvester and other food and seafood chain worker exploitation, lack of access to land, oceans, freshwaters, and healthy foods, food apartheid neighborhoods, and diet related health problems– are rooted in race, class and gender disparities. As these injustices continue, all too often the voices of people of color, poor or low-income people and women are excluded from the mainstream food movement.
Slow Food USA is committed to listening to those most impacted by food injustice; to being honest about how white supremacy, economic exploitation, and cultural domination have fundamentally shaped the agricultural history of the U.S.; to furthering our own education on how to build a just and equitable food system and supporting our local chapters to do the same, to honoring local knowledge; and, to taking appropriate action to support, deepen or create local food justice and food sovereignty efforts. Slow Food USA also believes that it is essential to encourage a diverse range of perspectives and experiences within our board of directors, national staff and within our local organizations so that we are making decisions that best reflect the varied needs of our entire community and that are especially inclusive of the traditionally marginalized voices of people of color.
What Commitment Looks Like
Equity, Inclusion and Justice (EIJ) must be within the DNA of the values espoused by Slow Food USA. Good, Clean, and Fair must go forward through an EIJ lens; and, to that end, Slow Food USA will strive to:
- Create an environment where all staff, board members and volunteers are seen, respected, and supported to participate fully.
- Share a commitment to honoring diverse worldviews, life experiences, cultures, ages and lifestyles.
- Provide staff education sessions on the topics of racial justice and equity, food justice, building equitable organizations, and engage Slow Food USA governors to share these resources with their respective state chapters.
- Orient all Slow Food staff, board members and local volunteers to our justice and equity mission and goals, and support them in incorporating these themes into their work.
- Support food justice education and racial justice awareness not only within Slow Food USA, but within our wider community as well.
- Develop collaborative and supportive relationships with people of color and organizations led by people of color. Extend and deepen support for local farmers, gardeners and growers of color and immigrant and refugee farmers and community-based fisher-harvesters.
- Act to challenge racism in the food and farming and fisher communities and beyond.
- Acknowledge the huge agricultural contributions made by Black, Latino, Indigenous and Asian growers, farmers, and fishers throughout history and reject the whitewashing of this history.
- Find creative and meaningful ways to invoke the Indigenous ancestral homelands and waters where we hold events and conferences.
- Continuously review our website, promotional materials and course descriptions for language and images that highlight racial/social justice and inclusive, appropriate language.
- Work with staff and board members to ensure our meetings and events are accessible, including but not limited to providing childcare and transportation as needed.
- Commit ourselves to this ongoing work by regularly evaluating the composition and organizational culture of our staff, board and board committees. Build in accountability measures and expectations of success.
- Move from being a majority white organization to a wonderfully diverse and multicultural organization, with people of color well represented at the national and local levels.
- Provide content and resources on our national website that chronicle our efforts around food justice but also provide resource links to other work going on in the food and agriculture movement.
- Continue to build a fully realized multicultural national and local organization which actively includes a diversity of people representing different groups’ styles and perspectives. A multicultural organization continuously learns and acts to make the systemic changes required to welcome, respect, support, and value any individual or group to fully participate.
- Make leadership development and strategic partnerships core strategies for long-term sustained success in this work.
- Continue to recognize the value of age diversity in the food movement and commit ourselves to supporting its young leaders. Encourage their participation by having Slow Food events, conferences, and chapters financially and culturally accessible to youth leaders of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds.
- Learn about and connect, on a chapter level, to Indigenous organizations in their communities that are protecting their traditional food culture, food heritage, and subsistence systems, while addressing food justice issues.
- Work to meet, converse with, and invite leaders of Indigenous communities to exercise traditional protocol of welcome, as well as facilitate inclusion in design and presentation of major events.
- Ask Indigenous participants how they wish to be identified and how they wish to participate and honor those wishes.
- Research the history of foods involved in Ark of Taste, but not nominate Indigenous foods without consulting the Slow Food Turtle Island Association (SFTIA).
- Strive to be educated, through greater involvement and familiarity with Indigenous communities, and Tribal Nations and their neighbors, about food sovereignty, cultural values and norms, and cultural appropriation and to guard against (and attempt to rectify) activities that might be interpreted as impinging on food sovereignty or appropriating Indigenous cultures.
- Consult with the Slow Food Turtle Island Association (and their recommendations of appointments) before advocating any such positions for state and national policies affecting Native American Tribes with respect to food, farming, ranching, fishing, and the like.
Inform chapters who are working with Indigenous People in their communities about Slow Food Turtle Island Association and invite them to both connect and participate in the SFTIA.
An Equity Manifesto is a starting point to keep us on track in this work and accountable to our mission. As people who love food, farming, land, fishing, oceans, freshwaters, and healthy communities, we believe deeply that a fundamental shift needs to happen in order for all of us to take part equitably in the joy and well-being that healthy communities can bring. Our evolving work for equity is one small part of that process, and we’re excited to share this path within our organization and externally.
This Executive Summary has been created to share with Slow Food advocates throughout the world our commitment to Equity, Inclusion, and Justice within our US context, as well as provide an opportunity to see where our struggles connect with your struggles. We hope it will be a catalyst to further developing commitment and action throughout our Slow Food network and communities worldwide.
Navajo Churro Sheep Photo Credit to Michael Benanav