In the Autumn of 2011, the Occupy movement was growing like a weed – quickly and strongly. In groups as small as two and as large as 200,000, people gathered in public spaces around the world to challenge an economic system that has long abandoned the majority for the profit of a few, creating what Arun Gupta called “liberated territory” in the “great cathedral of global capitalism.”
The first group of protestors on New York City’s Wall Street publically delivered 23 complaints, outlining the ways in which corporations control our daily lives. Number four asserted, “They have poisoned the food supply through negligence and undermined the farming system through monopolization.”
The same season, on the other side of the earth, farmers in Lufeng, China were also in the streets. They were protesting the city government’s seizure and sale of 800 acres of farmland to an upscale property development ironically named Country Garden.
In Bolivia, around the same time, the president was forced to suspend construction of a major highway after indigenous activists led a 41-day march in protest. The road would have cut through protected forests and indigenous ancestral lands in order to shuttle commerce between Brazil and ports in Chile and Peru.
And simultaneously, back in the Northern hemisphere, in rural New Mexico, a winter farmers’ market was starting up on Taos Indian Pueblo land. The shelves held garlic, carrots, chokecherry jam, blue corn flour, hot tamales, and giant heads of Napa cabbage harvested from the greenhouse. The market room and greenhouse were both heated by a furnace stoked with wood from the surrounding hills. A sign on the front door said, “come back next week and we’ll have fresh buffalo.”
A common thread links these stories happening around the globe: a vison of a society that values life and earth over profit.
One cornerstone on which this vision rests is the revival of community-led, sustainable food system, and an end to corporate control of food, land, and agriculture.
How we feed each other and ourselves is the backbone of how, historically, we have organized our communities and societies. The ways in which we arrange our agricultural systems make evident our larger worldviews. Food literally and figuratively connects us to each other, to our ancestors, to our culture, and to the earth. All food is soul food because it is, in fact, that deep.
From community gardens to global policy, a movement is growing to reclaim and transform our food system. The movement addresses,
- the well-being of the land, air, and waters and the ability of all to eat adequate and healthy food;
- the rights, health, and fair wages of those who plant, harvest, produce and prepare food and the need to restore and protect small farms and local food systems;
- the preservation and reclamation of local culture and the right of every nation to control its own food and agriculture;
- the end to corporate control of food and agriculture, including an end to trade rules and international agreements that prioritize profit over the well-being of people and the earth.
John Paul Pezzi, mccj
VIVAT International NGO
with consultative special status at UN