Digesting OWS: Why Food Lovers Need to Come to the Table
Aug 28, 2013 | Uncategorized
Grassroots. Hungry for change. Growing a new vision every day. We’re talking about the hundreds of gardens, farmers markets, and community potlucks that Slow Food members have helped to seed over the past 10 years—and we’re talking about Occupy Wall Street. Even beyond the shared connection of good, clean, and fair food values, there’s a whole crop of reasons for why people in the food movement should be paying attention to and learning from OWS—a people’s movement against Big Banks. Big Corporations. And yes, Big Ag—or what we call industrial agribusiness. Here are our top 3 reasons (so far):
1. Changing food and farming is political. Oh no they didn’t! Oh yes, we did. Changing food and farming is political (not to be confused with partisan)—and by that we mean it has to do with issues of power and inequality. It raises questions about who controls our infrastructure and who has limited choices because of it, who defines the dominant culture (fast food vs. slow food, diverse or not?), who stays well-nourished and who is hungry or suffering from a diet-related disease. We support local farmers, build school gardens, start farmers markets, and organize community potlucks not only because it’s immensely gratifying to reconnect to the earth, to our cultures, and to each other but also because it’s necessary. In fact, it’s political. The reality is that industrial agribusiness and government policies have more control over what farmers grow and what we eat than we do! Basta ya! Over the past decade, we’ve started to take back the power one meal, one non-GMO crop, one Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program at a time. But we’re fighting a continuous uphill battle—and it isn’t right. This is our moment to level the field, to change the food system from our plates to our policies.
2. Food is part of a larger movement for social transformation. The food movement has often been criticized for being elitist, inaccessible, and entirely too foodie—and in many cases, that’s real. What’s also real is that, for many of us, our desire to transform food and farming is rooted in values of community, sustainability and fairness—especially for the farmers and workers who make good food possible and for the communities whose health, culture, and access to good food have been threatened by industrial agribusiness. These values—for how we relate to each other, to our environment, and to our cultures—aren’t limited to the dining table, the kitchen, the food factory, or the farm. They extend into a vision for a better world. Food is just the starting point—a lens through which we can start to look at other societal issues. Yes, we care about food—but that doesn’t mean we have to lose sight of all the other things that matter: unemployment, unfair tax policies, or race, class, and gender inequality. It’s all connected. In the words of the late Tupac, “Let’s change the way we live. Let’s change the way we eat. Let’s change the way we treat each other.”