10 Mile Diet

Local food and farmworker justice

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My new fav organization is http://foodtank.org. Danielle Nierenberg and Ellen Gustafson are just birthing it. Please become a founding member – I am. They are combining research and action. I trust their work, and knowing who to trust these days is important. Responding to an article about farmworker injustice I offered the following commentary. I’d love to hear what you think about the article and my comment!

thank you for asking us to weigh in on this article. these are terrible stories and statistics. many issues are brought together here: justice, sanitation, workplace hazards, education, economics. in fact, so much is conflated that it’s too black and white. For e.g., what scale of farms and what type of crops are the worst offenders? Can we name names? If so, consumers can avoid products for social justice as well as personal health. Is there any org/agency that rates farms/corporations for their social justice practices? Are conditions the same on (industrial mono-crop) organic farms? If so, buying organic is treating issues of justice while supporting good soil and climate practices.
how else can consumers help?
“Vote with your dollars” – buy the most just food you can.
“Fasts” – a personal ethicial/spiritual practice of not engaging in a habit or practice you want to eliminate. So refusing to eat one food known for human rights abuse.
“Boycotts” – joining a collective campaign to punish the “bad guys” by not buying their products. Will FoodTank offer such campaigns? If not, who does?
“Witness” – go to the farms/factories of the worst offenders and bear witness. Simply stand. Look. Possibly hold a sign or do theater.
“Protest” – march, write letters to representatives, storm the gates,
“Shame” – write opeds, send emails, go on radio and TV and simply tell the story of what you have seen or learned without hyperbole. The facts alone are brutal.
“Research” – for a college report or an ngo org or a news media outlet, gather facts, get to know the issues deeply. This could lead to an advanced degree, a Pulitzer, or just a blog with a hundred followers.
“Blog” – tell your story. reveal your facts
“Organize” – join or start organizations that engaged in some or all of the above. you don’t have to go it alone. in fact, the problems are systems so solutions will ultimately be both individual and systemic.
“Go local” – Commit to food grown by people you can know on farms you can visit. This may mean growing some of your own, adjusting to a regional and seasonal diet, joining a CSA, buying at the local farmers market, buying at a local coop that does your farm visits for you, spending more on food but wasting less so overall costs stay balanced, gleaning, cooking more from scratch with ingredients grown nearby. You can define local as your town, your county, your state, your region (anywhere from a 10-mile to 500-mile diet). If the problems cited in the article are in your circle of local, you can make a big difference by using any/all above methods to “out” the practices and practitioners. They may go to your church or sit on a committee with you. Their kids may go to your kids school. So local has not just the power of the fork and wallet, it has the power of witness, protest, research, writing and organizing.


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