We had another fantastic Occupy Supply webinar last night, titled, Occupy the Food Supply: Food Sovereignty, Justice and Activism. Jill Richardson, Rosetta Star and Jess Hardy joined us for an insightful chat on Big Agriculture, food sovereignty and how the Occupy movement can use food and farming as an act of resistance.
We began with Jill Richardson, an old friend of FDL who blogs at LaVidaLocavore.com and is the author of Recipe for America: Why Our Food System is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It. Jill laid out the current crisis in our food system and some of the ways in which individuals are reclaiming their connection to the food supply. Stepping back to give a global perspective of issues of food sovereignty, Jill spoke of her travels, interviewing families in different parts of the world living under the virtual fiefdom of mega corporations like Del Monte and Monsanto. Jill dissected the various points of impact these massive, GMO crops have on health, food quality and safety, politics, the environment, trade and more.
For example, Jill talks about the quality of life of the farmers who make our food with an example from Del Monte’s pineapple crops in Kenya:
Meanwhile, the small farmers in this area, I was meeting people, they raise their families on maybe a fourth of an acre or a fifth of an acre.
Imagine raising seven children on a quarter-acre farm. Average size is about one acre of a farm.
So, in terms of a lot of what you hear us talk about is ‘food security’ is, you know ok, we need to help these people, you know, you’ve got a quarter-acre: how do we help you grow more food on your quarter acre? Well, that’s important, but then lets look at this injustice here: you’ve got this one enormous corporation that owns five thousand acres. How is that fair that everyone else has to feed their families on a quarter-acre?
Jill also details how growing your own food and becoming self sustaining is an excellent way to resist and reclaim your ‘food sovereignty,’ and she gives several more examples that are worth checking out.
The presentation Jill put together has a wealth of information and included recommended reading and more points we didn’t have time to cover. You can see her slideshow here.
Jill’s last point about reclaiming food sovereignty segued into a fascinating discussion with Rosetta Star and Jess Hardy from Occupy Asheville in North Carolina. Rosetta is a restaurant owner and food activist who is also our Asheville Occupy Supply liaison. She talked about Asheville’s new Food Policy Council which she described as “some of the more radical things I’ve done in my life, especially without getting in any trouble for them.” She discussed Asheville’s Lord’s Acre, which is a huge garden in Rosetta’s neighborhood that strives to educate the community on how to be food independent by growing and preparing your own food, regardless of your socioeconomic level.
Finally, Jess came on to talk about guerrilla gardening and growing food as a form of activism and resistance:
Communities building gardens together is a really safe way to resist this nonsense that we tend to run ourselves into and stay positive because we’re still producing something, we’re still putting something creative into our landscape, supporting diversity in things like coming home and finding their roots, and to make friendships and not always be so antagonistic and run ourselves into this brick wall.
Jess discussed the model for society they are building at Occupy Asheville, and how they are using spaces in artistic and spiritual ways to confront issues of gentrification and class conflict.
All in all, it was another fantastic discussion and we thank all our guest panelists and attendees who came out to listen. Here are our upcoming webinars:
4/04: Occupy Research: How to investigate stakeholders in local issues, feat. Occupy Buffalo’s Sam Colon, Occupy Monterrey’s Collin Gallagher and ACORN founder Wade Rathke
4/11: Beyond Signs & Fliers: Media and Marketing for the Occupy movement, feat. author Andrew Boyd and others TBA
4/18: Occupy May Day Part 1: History of May Day Activism, panelists TBA
4/25: Occupy May Day Part 2: Occupy May Day General Strike, panelists TBA
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You can also support Occupy Supply by making a donation here. 100% of your contribution to Occupy Supply will be used to purchase and distribute supplies and materials to Occupy movement protests across the country.