Sunday, April 7, 2013

From other steps: Some thoughts in food justice


cherry blossoms

In DC, the steps of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church are filled with homeless people, just like West-Park.

My friend John and I are representing PHEWA and doing a workshop for advocates from around the country gathered to work on Food Justice. I will share the stories of the Sweatshop Free Upper West Side as a community based model and also the Street Vendor Project I’ve just learned about. We also do our organizing 101 gig as well. Still frustrating it’s been so hard to pull off at West-Park.
John makes a point

Food Justice is a great issue because it can be approached at different points:
  • Production: working with those who grow and harvest the crops, eg, the United Farm Workers, Immokalee Tomato Growers, etc...Also community gardens, grower cooperatives, etc.
  • Distribution: food service workers, eg, the Saigon Grill Workers, Dominoes workers, fast  food workers, etc., farmers’ markets
  • Consumption: the choices we make as to where and how we purchase our food and what we consume. The old grape, lettuce and Nestle’s boycotts. The Dominoes  boycott. Also Fair Trade coffee and chocolate, food coops, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA’s).... 
    Bob (in blue light), Abe and John

It can get complicated sometimes...for example, from a conversation with Immokalee workers, we learned that Dominoes deserves credit for signing an agreement with the Immokalee workers on the production end then exploiting their workers on the distribution end which raises issues for us on the consumption end. It’s always a matter of finding where the issue touches our own lives and where it’s easiest to connect. But also analyzing our own power and where we can be most effective. Which leads to a preference to community based organization models as the most likely to be sustained over time. 

Abraham Lincoln worshipped regularly at this church. Often in a side room off the sanctuary. Outside, the cherry blossoms are just starting to bloom .

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