Powered by Squarespace
time tracking

Why "Voting With Your Fork" Isn't Enough To Overhaul Our Food System

Last week on Grist.com, food editor Tom Philpott, who has the real-world farming experience to back up his opinions, lends the weight of his voice to a recent book and article by Heather Rogers. Their point? That no matter how many CSAs and farmer's markets crop up for customers willing to pay more for higher quality food, real change is being held back by the entrenched interests of the industrial agriculture system in America. They argue that food policy changes which level out the playing field for smaller sustainable and organic operations are needed to affect a real transformation, and as with recent efforts in finance and healthcare, reform will be fought with the overwhelming power that the Big Agriculture army currently wields.

Click here to read the full article.


Breaking the link between US Aid and GMOs

The US Senate is currently working on legislation to redefine how it administers food aid to poorer countries.  In an opinion piece published in the DC political daily The Hill, a pair of agriculture and development experts warn that Monsanto's lobbying muscle threatens to turn a vehicle for positive transformation into a Trojan horse designed to break developing countries resistance to genetically modified crops.

According to Drs. Hans Herreman and Marcia Iishi Eiteman, the millions of dollars that USAID has already poured into GM crops have yielded little of the success that would warrant further investment.  A recent report by the non-partisan Union of Concerned Scientists raised serious doubts about the basic premise behind GM crops: that they substantially increase yields.  Further, a 2008 collaboration of 400 scientists from 80 countries, sponsored by the UN and World Bank emphasized structural issues such as access to markets and sustainable, low-input farming techniques, while noting that increased yields in and of themselves often do little to alleviate poverty.

The original stated intent of the Global Food Security Act included increasing the share of US aid dollars that support collaborative research and technical capacity-building, in an effort to promote more resilient, independent agricultural systems in developing countries.  With $7.75 billion at stake in this bill, however, it's not surprising that biotech giants like Monsanto, Syngenta and others would clamor for a piece of the pie. 

Which brings us to the present moment.  With Earth Day just behind us, I encourage readers to consider a revision of the well-worn environmentalist adage: as we act locally through CSAs, farmers markets and urban farms, let's link globally with other communities affected every day by US foreign development policy.

With its five-year, 7 billion dollar reach, this bill will do much to set the course of US development policy for years to come.  As written, it includes an important shift in emphasis toward empowering small farmers who would see economic benefits from locally adaptive, environmentally appropriate farming methods.  But our Senators have to hear that voters won't accept the latest biotech boondoggle in place of a real and long-awaited shift toward a meaningful policy of foreign assistance.

Grassroots International has made it easy to connect with your legislator and send a message for real development, not the latest chapter of dependency on global monopolies. Click here to use your voice on this issue.



Book discussion - "Food Rebellions: Crisis and the Hunger for Justice"

Join Eric Holt-Giménez, author and Executive Director of Food First, for a stimulating discussion of his latest book (co-authored by Raj Patel with Annie Shattuck) Food Rebellions: Crisis and the Hunger for Justice.  Learn about the root causes driving the food crisis and the powerful movements that have risen in response.  

When:  Friday, March 5, 2010 at 7:30 PM
Where:  1199SEIU Martin Luther King Jr. Labor Center Auditorium, 310 West 43rd St. (btwn 8th and 9th Avenues), Manhattan


Sponsored by the Alberto Lovera Bolivarian Circle of NY, in partnership with WhyHungerthe Brooklyn Food Coalitionand the Small Planet institute

This event is free and open to the public – bring your friends!

For more info, contact cbalbertolovera@gmail.com

About Food Rebellions:

In this very timely book, two of the world’s most prominent critics of the global food system, Eric Holt-Giménez and Raj Patel, dissect the causes of hunger and the food price crisis, locating them in a political economy of capitalist industrial production dominated by corporations and driven by the search for profits for the few instead of the welfare of the many. The picture that emerges is a political economy of global production that is failing badly in terms of feeding the world and is itself contributing to the spread of inequalities that promote hunger.
--Walden Bello, senior analyst at Focus on the Global South, Bangkok


***** Personal note from our co-director *****

This event looks really cool - Raj Patel's "Stuffed and Starved" is a really interesting look at local, democratic solutions to problems that afflict food systems around the world, and he is a pretty engaging speaker, too. I don't know anything about Eric Holt-Gimenez, but I'm willing to bet it's going to be an interesting event, and I'm planning to go. 

Hope to see some of you there!



Activities with our friends to the southeast - Astoria CSA

Astoria CSA has two workshops coming up - the first is THIS THURSDAY - and they have generously invited members of all the nearby CSAs to join in!

Thursday, October 1
6:00-7:00 pm
Nourishing Nettles
Join Astoria CSA Core member Kristy, HHC, in rediscovering this amazing plant once commonly used as food and medicine. Learn about the amazing nutrients and healing properties of the stinging nettle plant, featuring instruction on how to prepare a nourishing nettle infusion. Includes all you need to make your own infusions at home!  $5 suggested donation (no cash on site, please make checks payable to Astoria CSA). Supplies are limited, please go to http://www.onedegreefromearth.com/Site/Events.html  to sign up.
Location: ARROW Community Center, 35-30 35th Street Astoria, NY 11103

Thursday, October 15
6:30-7:30 pm
Raw Milk, the Real Deal
Join Astoria CSA President Stacey for a discussion on raw milk, including health benefits, truth and lies in the dairy industry and more! Stacey is the self-proclaimed NYC Milk Maid, having updated Sustainable Table's Dairy pages. She is a food educator and board member of the TNG. Tasting of raw dairy products will be available. $5 suggested donation (no cash on site, please make checks payable to Astoria CSA).
Location: ARROW Community Center, 35-30 35th Street Astoria, NY 11103

Policy and Advocacy Workshop at Just Food for CSA Members!

From Just Food -  Please join us on Monday, September 14th, 2009 for our Policy and Advocacy workshop to explore the possibility of encouraging CSA members to become more engaged with policy work.  We will also discuss current food and farm policy issues.  

Remember: Just Food has moved our offices! The workshop will be at our new offices at 1155 Avenue of the Americas (6th Ave.) Suite 311. The workshop will be from 6-8pm as usual. Please RSVP to paula@justfood.org.

If any members from Harvest Astoria would like to attend that would be great!!  We hope to develop a policy group for Harvest Astoria and we'd love to get some ideas flowing so, please let us know if you attend and have any ideas to share.  Email us at community[at]harvestastoria[dot]com.