How do we make sure that our food contributes to the health of our communities and ecosystems?
by Yvonne Yen Liu
posted Oct 15, 2012
Since its founding in 1996, the Community Food Security Coalition has been the leading voice for people of color and the poor in a food movement that often marginalizes them in favor of well-heeled “foodies.” This summer, the coalition announced that 2012 would be its last year of operation. The announcement left those of us in the food movement reeling.
Although the timing was not deliberate, it seemed fitting that a gathering about the future of the food justice movement, Food + Justice = Democracy, had been planned to take place just months after the coalition’s announcement.
What was next? Would private-sector solutions, such as Wal-Mart’s expansion into urban markets, pick up the mantle? Would well-known personalities in the consumer-driven foodie world, such as Michael Pollan and Alice Waters, develop solutions capable of addressing the needs of those outside of their white middle-class audience? Or would the answer come from somewhere else?
The organizer of the conference, LaDonna Redmond, was clear about her intentions. A former urban farmer in the west side of Chicago, Redmond was inspired to grow vegetables in her backyard because she was unable to buy pesticide-free food in her predominantly black and working-class neighborhood. She is now a senior program associate with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP).
“This is the first-ever conference of this kind,” Redmond explained to me over the phone. “The goals are to change the narrative around the role of people of color in the food system, to give voice to how the exploitation of land and labor are at the core, to build a national movement led by people of color and tribal communities, and to move federal policy.”