Your SlideShare is downloading. ×
Harvesting Justice - Transforming Food, Land, and Agricultural Systems in the Americas
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5

Thanks for flagging this SlideShare!

Oops! An error has occurred.


Introducing the official SlideShare app

Stunning, full-screen experience for iPhone and Android

Text the download link to your phone

Standard text messaging rates apply

Harvesting Justice - Transforming Food, Land, and Agricultural Systems in the Americas


Published on

“We are the food we eat, the water …

“We are the food we eat, the water
we drink, the air we breathe. And
reclaiming democratic control
over our food and water and our
ecological survival is the neces-
sary project for our freedom.” 3
— Vandana Shiva, physicist and activist

Published in: Food

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total Views
On Slideshare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

Report content
Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

No notes for slide


  • 1. More  Praise  for  Harvesting    Justice “If our people want to eat twenty years from now, we will need food justice. We will need to transform a dependent, fossil fuels based industrial food system into one which reaffirms and restores our collec- tive relationship to the land, the plants, and each other. The stories and the vision shared in Harvesting Justice inspire and inform that work. I’m grateful for the storytellers and those whose hands are on the earth.” — Winona LaDuke, Anishinaabe activist and environmentalist, author of Recovering the Sacred: The Power of Naming and Claiming and The Militarization of Indian Country “Field and Bell’s transformative work gets to the cultural and political heart of food politics and pro- duction. Harvesting Justice more than captures a deep, intelligent explanation of the state of food sovereignty in the Americas – it gives us an empowering, community-based framework for meaningful action. If you believe that food has power to change lives, read on.” — Frances Moore Lappé, author of Diet for a Small Planet and EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want “Ben and Jerry’s has always promoted local agriculture. Harvesting Justice uses a wide-angle lens to show why that is so important, and how the sum of local efforts everywhere can contribute to a global shift in food and agricultural systems. We can reclaim power from agricultural corporations, for our future and the earth’s. This important book gives many insights and tools on how to do so.” — Jerry Greenfield, Co-founder, Ben and Jerry’s “From my standpoint as a farmer, food sovereignty is a God-given right. Everyone should have the right to clean water, clean air, and wholesome food. As long as people are hungry there will be no justice. We should all consider where, how, and whom we share our food with. Harvesting Justice will help educate all people who interact with food about their role in creating a humane food system and a healthy earth. It’s all about the blessings we have from Mother Earth – Protect Her.” — Ben F. Burkett, Farmer, President of the National Family Farm Coalition “Anyone interested in understanding more about justice in the food system should take a good look at this book. But don’t just look… use it as a resource to connect with others and take action, so you can be part of the creation of the food movement’s next chapter.” — Gerardo Reyes Chávez, Staff member, Coalition of Immokalee Workers “Many people are familiar with the quest for healthy, organic food. But the food movement also includes the need for food justice, land reform, and other faces of food sovereignty. If you want to see nutritious and wholesome food produced with respect for the earth available to all, you’ll love Harvesting Justice.” — John Robbins, author of Diet For A New America and The Food Revolution, Co-founder of The Food Revolution Network
  • 2. Harvesting    Justice Transforming Food, Land, and Agricultural Systems in the Americas
  • 3. Other Worlds Ph: 504.684.4895 PO Box 791127, New Orleans, LA 70179 2013 Other Worlds, under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Unported license: Front Cover: Corn leaf. ©David Lauer Back cover: Members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers at a demonstration, illustrating that they must pick enough tomatoes to fill 153 buckets in a day to earn the minimum wage. ©Jacques-Jean Tiziou, Design: Micah Bazant, US Food Sovereignty Alliance c/o WhyHunger, 505 Eighth Ave., Suite 2100 New York, NY 10018 www.
  • 4. Dedication Harvesting Justice is dedicated to peasant, indigenous, landless, and small farmers around the world, with respect and appreciation for their work of growing food and growing justice. We also dedicate it to the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance, with the hope that – as a result of the collective work of the Alliance and its members – food sovereignty will soon flourish in the U.S.
  • 5. Table  of  Contents Introduction: Breaking Bread 2 Harvesting Justice: Transforming Food, Land, and Agricultural Systems in the Americas 1. Time to Make Salt: Food Sovereignty 5 2. A Level Planting Field: Challenging Corporate Rule 21 3. Good Growing Conditions: Changing Government Policies 36 4. Bringing it Home: Creating and Reviving Local Food Systems 47 5. Land of Plenty: Making Good Food Accessible to All 62 6. Honor the Hands: Food Worker Justice 74 7. Inherit the Earth: Land Reform 86 8. Homelands: Indigenous Territories and Sovereignty 99 Appendices Gratitude 117 Dig Deeper 119 Authors and Contributors 131 About Other Worlds and the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance 133
  • 6. 1 Indigenous and other farmers marched on the Governor’s Palace in Chihuahua, Mexico to denounce Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Social movements have been trying to get the Sierra Tarahumara declared as a GMO-free region since 2004, when genetic contamination was first discovered in rural communities. ©David Lauer 1
  • 7. 2 Breaking  Bread:  lntroduction “This isn’t just a romantic exercise. We don’t like the way the food system treats the earth and its negative health effects on the people, and we are working to actualize an alternative.” — Miguel Santistevan, New Mexican farmer and teacher In the fall of 2011, the Occupy movement was growing, as they say, 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 writer Arun Gupta called “liberated territory” in the “great cathedral of global capitalism.”1 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.”2 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 1. Arun Gupta, “The Revolution Begins at Home: A Clarion Call to Join the Wall Street Protests,” AlterNet, September 27, 2011, www.alternet. org/story/152557/the_revolution_begins_at_home%3A_a_clarion_call_to_join_the_wall_street_protests?page=entire. 2. Revg33k, “Forum Post: First Official Release from Occupy Wall Street,” Occupy Wall Street website, September 30, 2011, http://
  • 8. 3 jam, blue corn flour, hot tamales, and giant heads of Napa cabbage harvested from the green- house. 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 vision of a society that values life and the earth over profit. One cornerstone on which this vision rests is the revival of community-led, sustainable food systems, and an end to the corporate control of food, land, and agriculture. How we feed ourselves and each other 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 cultures, and to the earth. All food is soul food (with a low bow to true Southern cooking) because it is, in fact, that deep. From community gardens to just global policy, a movement is growing to reclaim and transform our food systems. The movement addresses: • The well-being of the land, air, and waters; • 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; • The need to restore and protect small farms and local food systems; • The preservation and reclamation of local culture; • The right of every nation to control its own food and agriculture; and • An 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. We created this book in order to share stories about some of the countless heartening changes that are happening in this movement. We also hope it will illuminate the connections and interdependence between different initiatives. Understanding the ways our visions overlap and strengthen each other is, we think, vital. A few notes about our language choices. We refer to ‘agriculture’, ‘farming’, and ‘farmers’, often. Really, we wish we had better words that encompassed the full array of farmers, fish- ermen and women, hunters, gatherers, shepherds, ranchers, and all those involved in food provision. We apologize for the many places where we fall short of capturing the whole picture.
  • 9. 4 Also, we at times refer to ‘peasant farmers’ when talking about small farmers in Latin America because, though the term is uncommon and sometimes considered pejorative in the U.S., it is how most small and subsistence farmers identify themselves in other parts of the world. It describes a socio-economic position in a way that the descriptor ‘farmer’, which describes only a profession, does not. Additionally, we use the terms ‘movement’, ‘food movement’, and ‘sus- tainable agriculture movement’ loosely and interchangeably to refer to the huge spectrum of efforts to create food systems that are nourishing, just, and healthy for people, animals, the earth, and future generations. A note about organization: This booklet starts with a chapter on food sovereignty, which is the overarching framework for most of the discussions that follow. Of the remaining chapters, we have loosely divided them between the U.S. and Latin America, because people in the U.S. tend to think about issues along a domestic/international binary. Also, certain food and agricultural issues predominate more in one hemisphere than the other. Yet all of the issues discussed here are global. They crosscut North-South divides, reflecting the impacts of our globalized eco- nomic relationships. At the end of this book you’ll find an appendix of organizations that are engaged in exciting work, books that we appreciate, resources to feed your interest and enthusiasm, and ideas for turning dedication into action. And lastly, any quotes that are not otherwise attributed come from interviews with the authors. May we continue to break bread and make change together. Blessings on the meal.
  • 10. 5 1.  Time  to  Make  Salt:  Food  Sovereignty “We are the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe. And reclaiming democratic control over our food and water and our ecological survival is the neces- sary project for our freedom.”3 — Vandana Shiva, physicist and activist “Over a half-century ago, Mahatma Gandhi led a multitude of Indians to the sea to make salt – in defiance of the British Empire’s monopoly on this resource critical to people’s diet. The action catalyzed the fragmented movement for Indian indepen- dence and was the beginning of the end for Britain’s rule over India. The act of ‘making salt’ has since been repeated many times in many forms by people’s movements seek- ing liberation, justice and sovereignty: César Chávez, Nelson Mandela, and the Zapatistas are just a few of the most prominent exam- ples. Our food movement – one that spans the globe – seeks food sovereignty from the monopolies that dominate our food systems, with the complicity of our governments. 3. Vandana Shiva, Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace (Massachusetts: South End Press, 2005), 5. We are powerful, creative, committed and diverse. It is our time to make salt.”4 So begins a statement by the People’s Movement Assembly on Food Sovereignty from the 2010 U.S. Social Forum in Detroit. Today, you can find similar declarations on food sovereignty crafted by communi- ties around the world, from small rural towns and villages to high-profile global gatherings. Food sovereignty is not a one-size-fits-all approach but an expansive set of principles, policies, and practices. It is grounded in the belief that everyone has the right to healthy, sustainably produced food, and that people and nations must have democratic control over their food and agricultural systems. In 2007, in the West African country of Mali, more than 500 small farmers, food produc- ers, and activists from around the world came together for the Nyéléni Forum for Food Sovereignty, named after a legendary woman farmer from the region. The final statement articulated six key attributes of 4. Statement from the People’s Movement Assembly on Food Sovereignty, U.S. Social Forum, Detroit, 2010. 5
  • 11. 6 The impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement has been devastating to Mexican farmers. In 2008, farmers’ organizations drove their tractors on the route Pancho Villa took during the 1910 revolution, traveling from the U.S. border to Mexico City as part of the “Without corn there is no country” and “The land can’t take anymore” campaigns, demanding support for sustainable food production. ©DavidLauer food sovereignty.5 Below are excerpts from that declaration. 1. Focuses on Food for People: Food sov- ereignty stresses the right to sufficient, healthy and culturally appropriate food for all individuals, peoples and 5. “Nyéléni 2007: Forum for Food Sovereignty: Definition of Food Sovereignty” (from the Declaration of Nyéléni), Sélingué, Mali, February 27, 2007, communities. Food sovereignty rejects the proposition that food is just another commodity for international agribusiness. 2. Values Food Providers: Food sovereignty values and supports the contributions, and respects the rights, of women and men, peasants and small-scale family farmers, pastoralists, artisanal fishers, forest dwellers, indigenous peoples, and agricultural and fisheries workers,
  • 12. 7 including migrants, who cultivate, grow, harvest and process food. 3. Localizes Food Systems: Food sover- eignty puts providers and consumers at the center of decision-making on food issues; protects food providers from the dumping of food and food aid in local markets; and resists governance struc- tures, agreements, and practices that… promote… inequitable international trade and give power to remote and unaccountable corporations. 4. Makes Decisions Locally: Food sover- eignty seeks control over and access to territory, land, grazing, water, seeds, livestock and fish populations for local food providers. These resources ought to be used and shared in socially and environmentally sustainable ways which conserve diversity. 5. Builds Knowledge and Skills: Food sovereignty builds on the skills and local knowledge of food providers and their local organizations that conserve, develop and manage localized food production and harvesting systems, and that pass on this wisdom to future generations. Food sovereignty rejects technologies that undermine, threaten or contaminate these, e.g., genetic engineering. 6. Works with Nature: Food sovereignty seeks to heal the planet so that the planet may heal us; and rejects methods that harm beneficial ecosystem func- tions, that depend on energy-intensive monocultures and livestock factories, destructive fishing practices and other industrialized production methods. Local to Global, and Everything in Between Food sovereignty recognizes that transform- ing our food systems necessitates working in our communities, changing international policies, and everything in between. The movement is rooted in the daily work of every small farmer, rancher, fisherperson, landless farm worker, and everyone else involved in local food production. Yet no matter what they produce, their ability to survive is affected by international mar- ket forces. The movement, therefore, also “This is not ultimately a battle about food and farming. It is about the survival of all of us.” — Shalmali Guttal, Focus on the Global South
  • 13. 8 includes community, national, and interna- tional activists working for just trade and economic systems. The principles of food sovereignty challenge the neoliberal economic model that governs food systems in much of the world. The neoliberal model promotes globalized trade, favoring the import and export of large quantities of food across borders. It assumes that a low- or middle-income nation’s best option is that of fitting into the economic position allotted to it by richer countries and financial institutions. If the American Midwest can grow massive amounts of corn, the rationale goes, then it should grow corn for the world, while Colombian farmers export coffee, Brazilian farmers bananas, and so on. This logic favors a food industry reliant on industrial-scale farming, monocropping, and massive inputs of fuel, fertilizers, and pesticides. The beneficiaries are the corporate middlepeople who consol- idate, arrange, package, and ship the food around the world. The proponents of this model are the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organization (WTO), govern- ments of industrialized countries, large landholders, and corporations. They insist that global South countries lower agri- cultural tariffs on food coming into their countries so as to open their markets to for- eign trade. They also pressure countries to eliminate agricultural subsidies, even though many high-income countries like the U.S. maintain large subsidies of their own. These measures undermine local production and the livelihoods of the world’s small-scale farmers who cannot compete on an uneven playing field with corporate giants. A food system that depends on import- ing and exporting goods around the globe leaves everyone more vulnerable to the whims of global market forces. When oil prices rise, for example, communities and countries who can’t afford the resulting price spikes in food, or who no longer have their own strong agricultural systems in place, are left hungry. Food sovereignty calls for the democratic participation of the population in shap- ing food and trade policies. It promotes tariffs on food imports to protect local markets and an end to international trade “For a poor person in Thailand, Brazil or Haiti, a marginally lower number on a computer screen in New York, London or Tokyo may be the difference between eating and going hungry.” — Helena Norberg-Hodge, founder, International Society for Ecology and Culture
  • 14. 9 agreements and financial institutions that interfere with the sovereignty and sus- tainability of food systems. It promotes de-industrialized agriculture, where local farmers grow for domestic consumption under local control. Building the Food Sovereignty Movement The most powerful international coali- tion promoting food sovereignty is Via Campesina, an alliance of approximately 150 groups from 70 countries, representing around 200 million small- and medium-size farmers and food producers, landless people, indigenous peoples, and rural women. The coalition includes groups as wide-ranging as the Indonesian Peasant Association, the Confederation of Farmers’ Unions in Turkey, and the U.S National Family Farm Coalition. Via Campesina takes strong stands around trade and financial institutions and poli- cies, and opposes any intervention of the World Bank, IMF, and WTO on questions of food and land. For each critique, the coalition advocates specific alternatives. Via Campesina provides a network in which groups can work together on global campaigns, international days of action, country-specific mobilizations, public edu- cation, and demonstrations at prominent venues such as climate talks and WTO meetings. Another important grassroots force for food sovereignty is the Latin American Coordination of Rural Organizations (CLOC by its Spanish acronym), whose members are both farmers and farmworkers. CLOC represents the Latin American branch of Via Campesina, but it also takes indepen- dent positions and actions. CLOC pursues its vision of a future without hunger through three primary campaigns: challenging free trade agreements, promoting agrarian reform, and creating food sovereignty. More recently, its focus has expanded to oppose biotechnology. CLOC members develop their political program through lobbying, popu- lar education, protests, mass mobilizations, international campaigns, and international tours. Another network that has spread through- out Latin America over the past 30 years is the Farmer to Farmer Movement (Movimiento Campesino a Campesino). In this network, small farmers are developing sustainable agricultural techniques and inno- vation, and passing this knowledge on via several hundred thousand ‘farmer-promot- ers’ or ‘farmer-technicians.’ The promoters travel to communities across various regions, sharing information, ideas, seeds, and tools. Opposite Page: John Kinsman is a dairy farmer, forester, and president of Family Farm Defenders which works to change U.S. food and farming policy and collaborates with Via Campesina and the international movement for food sovereignty. ©Nic Paget-Clarke,
  • 15. 10
  • 16. 11 The Launch of the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance Early on a gray Saturday morning in November 2011, 75 people gathered around an altar of seeds, soil, and burning sage in the basement of a Chinese Methodist church in Oakland, California. The group was a mix of young organizers, Native community leaders, Washington policy analysts, immi- grants’ rights advocates, dairy and vegetable farmers, fishermen, farm workers, and oth- ers passionate about food sovereignty. For the preceding year and a half, starting with a small convening at the U.S. Social Forum that declared, “It is our time to make salt,” organizers had been nurturing the cre- ation of the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance. Now the diverse assemblage from North, Central, and South America came together for the first official meeting and spent the day in intense political discussion, strategiz- ing, and celebration. The members of the assembly commit- ted themselves to spreading the concept of food sovereignty, already so prevalent in many parts of the world, within the U.S. They identified the power of agribusiness corporations as the key challenge at hand, and committed themselves to fighting it as well as land and resource grabs. They agreed to dedicate their energies toward land reform, immigrant rights, trade justice, the rights of Mother Earth, and defense of the global commons. They also committed to tackling power dynamics – including issues of race, nationality, class, and occupation – within the group itself, and to ensuring that the Alliance truly represents the joint vision of all those involved. Concluding with pro- test songs and chants from food and land movements around the world, the assembly left participants energized and inspired for the coming year of collaboration and collec- tive struggle. “Farmers everywhere in the world are at root the same farmers. Let us say that the key to peace lies close to the earth.” — Masanobu Fukuoka, farmer and philosopher
  • 17. 12 “A Living Reality” Dawn Morrison6 Dawn Morrison is the coordinator of the British Columbia Food Systems Network’s Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty. Secwepemc are the original people who come from the land where the water flows from high- est mountains through the rivers on its way to the ocean. And like many indigenous people around the world, our name tells who we are in relation to the land. We have agricultural techniques and cultivation techniques that have been a part of our culture for thousands of years, but it’s primarily hunting, fishing, and gathering. We are continuously broadening the discussion in the food security movement to include the hunting, the fishing, and the gathering. It brings [the movement] to a broader ecological perspective. Food sovereignty has been a living reality for our people for thousands of years. The concept may just have been newly introduced in the English language, but the living reality is very much alive and well in our communities. Really, there is no universal definition of food sovereignty because it’s up to each community to describe for themselves what it means, recognizing the diversity of many different nations of indigenous peoples. With respect to that, I think the most important principle is the sacredness, that food is a gift from the creator. In my language it’s Tqelt7kukpi. Food sovereignty is about our responsibility to maintain those relationships to the plants and the animals that provide us with our food. It’s not something that can be constrained by colonial laws or policies. It is up to us to be maintain- ing our responsibility. Food sovereignty is about self-determination, about being free from the control of the corporately owned globalized food system. It’s about being able to make those decisions for ourselves about where we get our food. 6. Dawn Morrison, excerpted from presentation at the Community Food Security Coalition conference, October 2010. 12
  • 18. 13 Food sovereignty is also about our partici- pation and our responsibility. It’s based on day-to-day actions and being involved in traditional harvesting activities. On the indi- vidual, family, and community level, we must be participating in it or we become assimi- lated into the globalized food system. Food sovereignty is also about policy. We recognize colonial policies are impacting our ability to harvest our foods. We rec- ognize that food sovereignty is ultimately based on policy driven by practice from a community base. In Haiti, members of the Union of Peasant Groups of Bay map out the families and resources in their community as a step in planning and tracking their local development process. ©BenDepp 13
  • 19. 14 Miami Rice, or Food Sovereignty, in Haiti? Somewhere between 60 to 80 percent of Haiti’s citizens are farmers.7 But despite this large population of food producers, more than half of what Haitians eat is imported.8 Up to half the nation is estimated to face food insecurity and one-third of children under five are chronically malnourished.9 This crisis is not a natural phenomenon. It is the result of policy choices. In the 1980s and 1990s, the U.S. and IMF pressured Haiti to lower tariffs on food imports in order to open up the market to foreign companies. This led to a flood of underpriced food into the country with which Haitian farmers could not compete – notably rice, which is among the seven most heavily subsi- dized crops in the U.S.10 The subsidized and 7. U.S. Agency for International Development & Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, “Seed System Security Assessment, Haiti,” August 2010, 1. USAID estimates that approximately 60 percent of Haiti’s population are farmers; peasant groups such as the Peasant Movement of Papaye use the figure 80 percent. 8. World Bank and UN, “Development at Work in Haiti,” April 2009, HaitiBrochureEng.pdf. This 2009 report states that “local production accounts for only 45 percent of food consumption.” 9. UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “Humanitarian Bulletin: Haiti,” September 21-October 18, 2011, 3, Haiti_Humanitarian%20Bulletin_11_ENG.pdf; and Lucy Basset, World Bank, “Nutrition Security in Haiti: Pre- and Post-Earthquake Conditions and the Way Forward,” En Breve, June 2010, No. 157, 2. 10. Environmental Working Group, “The United States Summary Information,” accessed February 24, 2012, gion?fips=00000&regname=UnitedStatesFarmSubsidySummary. industrial-scale U.S. production, on top of lowered import tariffs in Haiti, created a bizarre outcome: rice grown in such places as Arkansas and California and shipped in by boat could be sold cheaper than rice grown in a neighboring field in Haiti. Between 1992 and 2003, rice imports in Haiti increased by more than 150 percent,11 pushing hundreds of thousands of Haitian farmers out of their livelihoods and into the city to search for work in sweatshops. (An overcrowded capi- tal city is one reason why the toll from the 2010 earthquake was so high.) The import’s impact was so great that Haitians dubbed it Miami Rice, after the TV show popular at the time. Today, a full 90 percent of the rice eaten in Haiti comes from the U.S., while local rice farmers struggle to survive.12 What would it take to turn this around? What would it take to transform Haiti’s econ- omy such that its role in the global economy is no longer that of providing cheap labor for sweatshops? What would it take for the 400,000 people left homeless by the 2010 earthquake to have a secure life and income? According to Haitian small-farmer organi- zations, food sovereignty and support for peasant agriculture are big parts of the 11. Oxfam International, “Kicking Down the Door: How Upcoming WTO Talks Threaten Farmers in Poor Countries,” April 2005, 26, details/214560.htm. 12. USA Rice Federation, “USA Rice Efforts Result in Rice Food- Aid for Haiti,” January 20, 2010, php?option=com_content&view=article&id=957.
  • 20. 15 solution. “It’s not houses that are going to rebuild Haiti, it’s investing in the agriculture sector,” says Rosnel Jean-Baptiste of Heads Together Small Peasant Farmers of Haiti (Tèt Kole Ti Peyizan Ayisyen). “If the country doesn’t produce, farmers won’t be able to survive. And we’ll always have to depend on others.” Peasant groups and allies are developing long-term plans for reorienting Haiti’s political economy in favor of agricul- ture. Their vision includes technical-support programs for farmers, land reform, protec- tion of native and traditional seeds, access to credit, aid for seeds and equipment, govern- ment investment in food storage facilities and transportation systems, attention to deforestation and Haiti’s ecological health, and rural public services. Women’s Declaration on Food Sovereignty (excerpted), Nyéléni, February 27, 200713 “We, women from more than 40 countries, from different indigenous peoples of Africa, the Americas, Europe, Asia and Oceania and from different sectors and social movements, have gathered together in Sélingué [Mali] to participate in the creation of a new right: the right to food sovereignty. We reaffirm our will to act to change the capitalist and patriarchal world which puts the interests of the market before the rights of people. Under the watchful eye of Nyéléni, an African woman who defied discriminatory rules, who shone from her creativity and agricultural prowess, we will find the energy to establish our right to food sovereignty, carrier of hope in constructing another world. We will carry this message to women all over the world.” 13. Nyéléni 2007, “Women’s Declaration on Food Sovereignty,” February 27, 2007,
  • 21. 16 Women’s Work: Gender and the Globalized Food System “The notion of food sovereignty fits well with a feminist agenda. Food sovereignty recognizes women as agents and actors and not merely consumers in the food system.” — Alexandra Spieldoch, director of the Trade and Global Governance Program at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP)14 Women produce 60 to 80 percent of all food, both as subsistence farmers and as agricul- tural wage laborers.15 They are the primary providers for the majority of the world’s 925 million hungry people, obtaining food, col- lecting firewood and water, and cooking.16 And yet they have less access to land and the 14. Alexandra Spieldoch, “A Row to Hoe: The Gender Impact of Trade Liberalization on our Food System, Agricultural Markets and Women’s Human Rights,” Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, March 2007, 12. 15. Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, quoted in: Alexandra Spieldoch, “A Row to Hoe: The Gender Impact of Trade Liberalization on our Food System, Agricultural Markets and Women’s Human Rights,” Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, March 2007, 5-10. 16. Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, “925 Million in Chronic Hunger Worldwide: Though Improved, Global Hunger Level ‘Unacceptable,” September, 14, 2010, story/en/item/45210/icode/; and World Food Programme, “Women Shoulder Heaviest Burden in Global Food Crisis,” March 5, 2009, global-food-crisis. resources necessary to grow on it than their male counterparts. Inequitable distribution of land, labor, and resources leaves farm- ing women triply burdened by work: in the fields, in the home, and in society. How do the agricultural policies of interna- tional financial institutions (IFIs), such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, affect women? We have adapted the following from Gender Action’s 2011 report on gender and the food crisis:17 • When the collapse of agricultural mar- kets – often precipitated by IFI policies – forces men to leave home and travel to other countries in search of work, women are left behind to tend to family and work family farmland; • IFI pressure on governments to abolish taxes on food imports and repay debts reduces governments’ ability to pay for healthcare and education. Spending cuts in these sectors inevitably cause the most harm to women and girls; • Rising food prices put additional pres- sure on already strained household budgets. When women enter the formal work force to help support household consumption, girls are often forced to leave school to attend to household chores and care for younger siblings; 17. Excerpted from: Alana Fook, “Gender, IFIs and Food Insecurity,” Gender Action, April 2011, publications/fdsec/primer.pdf.
  • 22. 17 • IFI agriculture investments support big businesses, not women farmers. IFI investments tend to focus on agro- processing and commercial agriculture, which mainly utilize male laborers and focus on external markets. These invest- ments tend to overlook women, who are often restricted to subsistence farm- ing, and instead mainly benefit the transnational corporations that win IFI procurement contracts. Though facing difficult challenges, women around the world have been making strides both in national policy and in land move- ments themselves. In some places, they are gaining greater access to arable land, tech- nology, credit, markets, training, equipment, and control over agricultural knowledge. In certain countries, they have won the right for their name, not just their husband’s, to go on the land title, making them direct beneficiaries of land reform. More women In the Mexican state of Chihuahua, Rarámuri women choose corn to save for next year’s planting. They just finished participating in a farmer-to-farmer workshop on seed selection. ©DavidLauer 17
  • 23. 18 are directly earning wages for their agri- cultural labor, instead of through their husbands or fathers. And some countries are articulating women-specific labor rights in their constitutions. Food sovereignty movements explicitly recognize the importance of women in agriculture. Via Campesina has made chal- lenging gender inequity a central goal of its work, both internally and globally. It has hosted three international women’s assemblies, led campaigns challenging gender-based violence, hosted trainings and exchanges for women, and commit- ted to integrating a gender analysis into each of its program areas. Internally, it now requires that one woman and one man from each region participate in the inter- national coordinating committee. It has set a goal of having 50 percent of delegates in all committees and conferences be women. It challenges its member organizations to ensure that women play an equally signifi- cant role in all leadership structures. Reclaiming Control of Food and Agriculture Peter Rosset Agricultural economist Peter Rosset is with the Center for the Study of Rural Change in Mexico and the Land Research Action Network. He is also a member of the technical support team of Via Campesina. There are several fundamental pillars that are necessary to take control over food and agricul- tural systems. One is to force even reluctant or reactionary governments to regain control over their national borders from the flow of imported food. That means canceling free trade agree- ments and not signing WTO agreements. It means stopping the import either of incredibly cheap, subsidized food from agro-export countries which drives local producers out of business, or of food made ridiculously expensive by food speculation. Governments also need to support peasant and small-farmer agriculture as the fundamen- tal source of food for national economies. Why not big farms or agribusiness? It’s more than proven in any country in the world that if agribusiness controls the majority of the land, there will not be enough food for people because agribusiness just doesn’t produce food for local 18
  • 24. 19 people. What agribusiness does, be it the United States or Thailand, is produce exports. Sometimes those exports are not even food for people but soybeans for animals, or ethanol, or biodiesel for automobiles in other part of the world. On the other hand, the real voca- tion of the small farm, the family farm, the peasant farm, the indigenous farm, is producing food for the family, for the local economy, and for the national economy. All over the world, these farmers are underrepre- sented in control of land. So a second essential element to claim control over food and agricultural systems is for countries to place their bets on peasant and family agriculture. And that means land has to be taken away from agribusiness. That, in turn, means real agrarian reform, redistribution of land to people who are landless, who are poor, who want to earn a living with dignity by producing food for people. And that means rebuilding small and family agriculture by investing in it. That neces- sitates changing budget priorities so that, instead of government subsidies flowing to support the exports of agribusiness, they flow to small farms. Yet a third pillar in reclaiming control of agriculture means changing how we produce food. Via Campesina and other social movements say that we can no longer afford to keep food prices tied to the cost of petroleum. We can’t keep using indiscriminate amounts of chemical fertilizer, tractors, mechanical harvesters, and pesticides. We need to engage in ecological agriculture that preserves soil fertility for future generations. Fourthly, we need to defend the territories of indigenous peoples and peasant communi- ties who haven’t yet lost their land. Part of the strategy must also be to gain new territories through land reform or land occupations. A fifth element involves seeds. We can’t allow seeds to be patented and privatized by Monsanto and Syngenta and other corporations. We can’t allow them to be contaminated by A Via Campesina march in Hong Kong, 2005, demanding an end to WTO trade negotiations over agriculture. CourtesyofViaCampesina 19
  • 25. 2020 GMOs. We need to support the free exchange of local, indigenous seeds, because those variet- ies are much more adapted to local environmental conditions and can form a much stronger basis for new national food systems. Sixth, we need to nationalize the food reserves that are in the hands of transnational corpora- tions. Part of the origin of the recent food crisis is that under neoliberal policies of the past 20 years, most countries sold off their food inventories that were in the hands of the public sec- tor. World food reserves are now largely in the hands of private corporations like Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland. This is a problem because when it comes to food reserves, the public sector and the private sector behave in exactly opposite ways. If there’s a food shortage, the public sector releases food from storage so that prices won’t rise so fast, or so people who can’t afford food can get it from public sources. But private traders and transnational corporations hoard and speculate. That is, they withhold food from the market in order to drive prices up even higher so that they can make a windfall profit, at the cost of some people not being able to eat. But we can’t just renationalize food reserves in the hands of governments because we can’t trust governments. There has to be some kind of a co-management scheme where farmers and consumers, through their social movements and grassroots organizations, participate in owning and managing food reserves so that those reserves exist in every country – but at the service of people, not of private profit. Via Campesina and allied social movements have all gathered together under the banner of food sovereignty. This is the collective banner of struggle to build counter-power to transna- tional corporations, to renationalize food systems, and to regain control over rural territories and the land. To make sure that land is used to support rural peoples. To support production, for local and national consumption, of healthier food, more affordable food, food that’s not speculated with, that’s not hoarded, that’s not contaminated with GMOs. To reclaim our food systems and protect our lands and territories.
  • 26. 21 2.  A  Level  Planting  Field: Challenging  Corporate  Rule “The farmer is the one who feeds us all. Lives on credit ‘til the fall, Then they take him by the hand, And they lead him from the land, And the middleman’s the one who gets it all.” — “The Farmer is the One,” traditional from the 1800s (excerpted) Just outside of the small town of Maumelle, Arkansas sits your run-of-the-mill American strip mall. And as in so many other box store hubs, a Walmart dominates the landscape. But something is a shade different about this one: Its big, looming letters are not the standard blue. These letters, in a new, green hue, spell out “Walmart Neighborhood Market.” Focused primarily on groceries, Walmart’s “Neighborhood Markets” seem a valiant attempt at a makeover, an effort to woo the growing number of people who find themselves driving down Main Street, craving an actual, legitimate neighborhood market. A little further down the interstate, a giant billboard with a photo of a stoic-looking farmer watches over the speeding traffic. He’s staring into the distance against the backdrop of a glowing wheat field, with the caption “America’s Farmers Grow America.” It’s an image to melt all our pastoral hearts. Until we read the small print in the corner: “Monsanto.” It’s true, Monsanto and Walmart catch all the flack. But they are irresistible tar- gets for a reason. Walmart now sells more groceries than anyone else in the country, and Monsanto is the world’s largest seed company. Together, they profit off of a tre- mendous percentage of the food that will eventually make its way into our stomachs. It’s no secret that we are bombarded and manipulated by corporate name brands every day. A Coca-Cola annual report some years back stated, “All of us in the Coca-Cola family wake up each morning knowing that every single one of the world’s 5.6 billion people will get thirsty that day… If we make it impossible for these 5.6 billion people 21
  • 27. 22 to escape Coca-Cola…, then we assure our future success for many years to come. Doing anything else is not an option.”18 ‘Impossible’ to ‘escape’ certainly sounds daunting. Creepy, even. Yet people are escaping by the droves, escaping a food sys- tem more obsessed with money than with sustenance. Around the globe people are declaring an end to the corporate takeover of food. In the small village of Hinche, Haiti on a hot June day in 2010, a circle of thousands of farmers stood around a small pile of smoul- dering seeds. Though seeds are sacred to farmers, this pile was not being offered up in reverence, but in resistance. A few months 18. Coca-Cola Corporation, 1993 Annual Report, quoted in E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful (Blond & Briggs, 1973), 8. earlier, the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture had given Monsanto permission to import and ‘donate’ 505 tons of hybrid corn and vegetable seeds. “It’s a declaration of war,” peasant leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste said. The importation of massive amounts of hybrid seed threatens Haiti’s traditional, regionally adapted seed stock. It also creates a cycle of dependence, with farmers buying seeds from Monsanto each year rather than relying on local markets or their own saved seed. In an open letter, Jean-Baptiste, the Executive Director of the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP), called the entry of Monsanto seeds into Haiti “a very strong attack on small agriculture, on farmers, on biodiversity, on Creole seeds…, and on what is left of our environment in Haiti.”19 19. Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, group email, May 14, 2010. ©TequilaMinsky Small farmers burn Monsanto seeds in Haiti, June 2010. The hats say, “Down with Monsanto.”
  • 28. 23 The same day as the protest in Haiti, activ- ists in Seattle gathered in solidarity. They burned Monsanto seeds in front of the headquarters of the Gates Foundation, which is promoting genetically modified seeds in Africa. In Missoula, Montana, activists dressed in lab coats and Tyvek to protest. In Chicago, a Haiti support group didn’t have Monsanto seeds, so they burned Cheetos instead. The Organic Consumers Association’s network sent more than 10,000 emails protesting Monsanto to USAID and President Obama. Once the maker of Agent Orange, Monsanto is also a leading herbicide company and a primary force in the creation and marketing of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Via Campesina, the international alliance of small farmers, peasants, landless people, and indigenous people, declared Monsanto and other transnational corporations the “principle enemies of peasant sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty.”20 The coalition keeps the spotlight on Monsanto at the majority of its protests, most recently at the 2011 UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa. In October 2009 and 2010, the coalition organized international days of action against the company and agri- business in general, with teach-ins, marches, 20. Via Campesina, “Peasants Worldwide Rise up Against Monsanto, GMOs,” October 16, 2009, index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=797:peasan ts-worldwide-rise-up-against-monsanto-gmos&catid=49:stop- transnational-corporations&Itemid=76. JeremySeifert, Protesting in Los Angeles.
  • 29. 24 hunger strikes, land occupations, and pro- tests of all types carried out in at least 20 countries.21 From Corn to Cheetos: Food as Big Business The nation’s move towards industrializa- tion in the 19th Century ushered in major changes in agriculture. The focus shifted to creating an abundance of affordable food for a growing population, while simulta- neously reducing the number of people laboring in the fields in order to free them up for work in the factories. The need for more food with less labor meant more mechanization and therefore bigger farms. The emergence of vast, spread-out farms required that food travel long distances, and went hand-in-hand with the creation of companies to transport, package, and pro- cess food. Over the years, our food has become increas- ingly commodified, that is, converted from nourishment to a mass-marketed consumer product. These days, an ever-shrinking number of mega-corporations controls an ever-expanding amount of food production, from seeds to equipment, from chemi- cal inputs to processing. Consider these statistics: 21. Food First, “La Via Campesina Carries out Global Day of Action against Monsanto,” Institute for Food and Development Policy, October 19, 2009, • Just four companies own approximately 84 percent of the U.S. beef market;22 • Four firms control 66 percent of the pork-packing market and another four control 58 percent of poultry processing;23 • Four companies own 43 percent of the world’s commercial seed market;24 • Three companies (Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, and Bunge) control 90 percent of the global grain trade;25 and • Four companies own 48 percent of grocery retailers (Walmart being the largest).26 22. Food and Water Watch, “Horizontal Consolidation and Buyer Power in the Beef Industry,” July 2010, http://www. 23. Food and Water Watch, “Taking on Corporate Power in the Food Supply,” March 2011, factsheet/taking-on-corporate-power-in-the-food-supply/. 24. Kristina Hubbard, “Out of Hand: Farmers Face the Consequences of a Consolidated Seed Industry,” Farmer to Farmer Campaign on Genetic Engineering, National Family Farm Coalition, December 2009, 4, of%20Hand.FullReport.pdf. 25. Eric Holt-Giménez, “The World Food Crisis: What Is Behind it and What We Can Do,” Hunger Notes, October 2008, http://www. 26. Forty-eight percent statistic is from Food and Water Watch, “Taking on Corporate Power in the Food Supply,” March 2011, corporate-power-in-the-food-supply/. Walmart’s position as the largest grocery retailer is recorded in Capital Reporting Company, “Workshop on Agriculture and Antitrust Enforcement Issues in our 21st Century Economy,” Agriculture and Antitrust Enforcement Issues, December 8, 2010, 183, workshops/ag2010/dc-agworkshop-transcript.pdf.
  • 30. 25 The True Price of a Banana: Hidden Costs of a Corporate- Controlled Food System The underlying objective of much of our industrial food system is to provide a profit to shareholders and CEOs. Coca-Cola’s advertising budget was over $2.9 billion dol- lars in 2010.27 It’s money well spent from a stockholder’s point of view; profits that year were $11.8 billion.28 The current system, however, was arguably not built only to amass wealth. Many policy- makers and supporters, historically and today, have been driven by the conviction that industrial-scale agriculture is the best way to produce massive amounts of afford- able food. And indeed, in some ways it has accomplished this. People in the U.S. spend relatively little on food – about 7 percent of their total spending, as compared to 13 per- cent in France, 23 percent in Mexico, and 38 percent in Vietnam.29 As individuals, most of 27. Jeremiah McWilliams, “Coca-Cola Spent More Than $2.9 Billion on Advertising in 2010,” Atlanta Journal Constitution online, February 28, 2011, accessed February 29, 2012, http://www.ajc. com/business/coca-cola-spent-more-856183.html. 28. CNN, “Fortune 500’s Top Companies: Most Profitable,” CNN Money online, May 23, 2011, fortune/fortune500/2011/performers/companies/profits/. 29. U.S. Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, “Table 97 - Percent of household final consumption expenditures spent on food, alcoholic beverages, and tobacco that were consumed at home, by selected countries, 2010,” June 2011, www. table97_2010.xls. us in the U.S. are devoting less time, energy, and money to feeding ourselves then we ever have historically. On the buying end, it seems an irresistibly good deal, our 99¢ soda or $1.50 loaf of bread. But these prices represent just a frac- tion of the true costs of getting that soda and bread into our shopping bags. There are hidden costs in our industrialized food system that don’t show up at the register, but which we pay for in multiple ways. Some, depending on class, race, nationality, and livelihood, pay more dearly than others. Some of these costs do show up financially. We subsidize food corporations through our taxes, which pay for public works like trans- portation infrastructure for long-distance shipping (highways, airports, and railroads), communication infrastructure (satellites, television, radio and internet), energy infra- structure (coal plants and nuclear power stations), and research and development (like government-funded crop research). Tax dollars also fund the government subsidies that keep certain crop prices low, allowing corporations to create their processed foods so cheaply. Small- and medium-sized farmers are pay- ing extremely high hidden costs. Their farms have been steadily disappearing as land is further consolidated into the hands of fewer people. The U.S. has lost 800,000 farmers
  • 31. 26 and ranchers in the last 40 years.30 Between 1900 and 2002, the number of farms in the U.S. shrank by 63 percent, while the average farm size increased by 67 percent.31 The dairy industry has undergone an even starker decline: in just over 35 years, between 1970 and 2006, the country lost 88 percent of its dairy farms, while the average herd size per farm increased from 19 to 120 cows. 30. Capital Reporting Company, “Workshop on Agriculture and Antitrust Enforcement Issues in Our 21st Century Economy,” Agriculture and Antitrust Enforcement Issues, December 8, 2010, 6, transcript.pdf. 31. Carolyn Dimitri, Anne Effland, and Neilson Conklin, “The 20th Century Transformation of U.S. Agriculture and Farm Policy,” USDA Economic Research Service, Electronic Information Bulletin, No. 3, June 2005, An additional statistic from the EPA reports that the number of farms in the U.S. fell from 6.8 million in 1935 to about 2 million in 1997. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Demographics,” modified September 10, 2009, accessed February 29, 2012, oecaagct/ag101/demographics.html. Farmworkers and other laborers all along the food supply chain also pay by receiving inadequate wages; they are twice as likely to be living below the poverty line. As consumers, we all pay with our health and well-being. Our country’s most popular cuisine is affectionately called ‘junk,’ after all. Eating the highly processed food made read- ily available to us has led to epidemic levels of diabetes and heart disease. Individuals get chastised for their own diet-related problems while ‘junk’ food is much easier and cheaper to access than healthy food. Recent outbreaks of Listeria and stomach acid-resistant E. coli are other manifesta- tions of the costs to our health. Food-safety experts blame the industrialized produc- tion of grain-fed cattle and poultry for the emergence of these dangerous bacteria “The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying, This is mine, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not anyone have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this imposter; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.” — Jean-Jacques Rousseau, from Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, 1755.
  • 32. 27 strains.32 Manure from overcrowded animal farms seeps into the groundwater and rivers. When vegetable crops are irrigated, bacteria in the water can contaminate the food sup- ply. If you’ve ever driven past a commercial livestock lot, the smell alone lets you know something has gone terribly wrong. The most profound hidden costs are enacted on our planet as a whole: polluted water, air, and soil; deforestation; acid rain; species extinction; and climate change. The corpo- rate food system wreaks countless ecological harms. Monocropping, a farming system where the same crop is grown on a piece of land year after year, is foundational to industrial-scale agriculture. It’s what makes farming such gigantic swaths of land physically possible. Yet monocropping depletes the soil, upends the ecological balance, and creates condi- tions highly susceptible to pests and disease, requiring more pesticides and fertilizers. Spraying toxic pesticides on our food has become the norm, so much so that we call 32. Nina Planck, “Leafy Green Sewage,” The New York Times online, September 9, 2006, opinion/21planck.html?ex=1159675200&en=219a8917c1497 4f2&ei=5070. Made to digest grasses, the stomachs of these animals become unnaturally acidic on grain diets, creating perfect laboratories for bacteria that are harmful to humans. Farms try to counteract these bacteria by using vast amounts of antibiotics. In 2009, nearly 29 million pounds of antibiotics were sold for animal production. 2009 FDA report referenced by Helena Bottemiller, “FDA Releases First Estimate on Antibiotics in Ag,” December 13, 2010, Food Safety News, releases-first-estimate-on-antibiotic-in-ag/. it ‘conventional’ agriculture, though there’s nothing conventional about it. Introduced in large scale only after World War II, using surplus warfare chemicals,33 pesticides are now applied at a rate of 1.1 billion pounds per year in the U.S. That’s 22 percent of the world’s total use.34 These chemicals move throughout our ecosystem, making their way into groundwater and our drinking sup- ply, traveling down streams and rivers, and eventually reaching the ocean. In just one example, fertilizer running off fields and down the Mississippi River has created such an imbalance that there is a ‘dead zone’, where nothing can survive, the size of New Jersey in the Gulf of Mexico.35 Pesticides also wind up on our plates and in our bloodstreams. In 2005, the Environmental Working Group tested the umbilical cords of 10 babies from different U.S. hospitals and found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in their blood, including a number of pesticides.36 33. Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (New York: Penguin, 2006). 34. Arthur Grube, et al., “Pesticide Industry Sales and Usage 2006 and 2007 Market Estimates,” US Environmental Protection Agency, February 2011, pestsales/07pestsales/usage2007.htm#3_1. 35. Elizabeth Weise, “Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone Predicted to be the Size of New Jersey This Year,” USA Today online, June 29, 2010, post/2010/06/gulf-of-mexico-dead-zone-predicted-to-be-the- size-of-new-jersey-this-year/1. 36. Environmental Working Group, “Body Burden - The Pollution in Newborns: A benchmark investigation of industrial chemicals, pollutants, and pesticides in umbilical cord blood,” July 14, 2005,
  • 33. 28 If all of these costs showed up in the prices we pay at the store, things would be very different. If the prices reflected the oil that powers the jet to bring a banana thousands of miles, together with the air pollution that results, the workers’ healthcare costs after handling pesticides, and the future loss of soil health due to monocropping, this fruit would certainly be a luxury item in the North rather than part of an average American breakfast. “What single thing could change the U.S. food system, practically overnight? Widespread public awareness – of how this system operates and whom it benefits, how it harms consumers, how it mistreats animals and pollutes the land, how it corrupts public officials and intimidates the press, and most of all, how its power ultimately depends on a series of cheerful and ingenious lies.” — Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation37 37. Eric Schlosser in “One Thing to Do about Food: A Forum,” Alice Waters, ed., The Nation online, August 24, 2006, http://www.
  • 34. 29 Who Put That Fish in My Tomato? GMOs are one frightening demonstration of how corporations are gaining more con- trol over our food supply. GMOs are formed when genetic material from one plant or animal is inserted into another, creating an organism with new genetic traits. Since their introduction in the U.S. in the mid- 1990s, GMOs have been met with heated protest for a myriad of ecological, health, and economic reasons. Though relatively new, GMO technology has spread quickly. Today, 90 percent of the country’s soybean acreage and 80 percent of corn acreage is planted with Monsanto’s GMO varieties.38 Eighty percent of gro- cery items in the U.S. now contain GMOs.39 Because corporations such as Monsanto, Pioneer and Syngenta own the patents on GMO seeds, GMOs establish further eco- nomic control of farmers by agribusiness. Farmers who buy GMO seeds are required to sign contracts prohibiting them from saving or replicating the seed. They also are prohib- ited from doing any research on the seeds (to determine under which conditions they 38. Kristina Hubbard, “Out of Hand. Farmers Face the Consequences of a Consolidated Seed Industry,” Farmer to Farmer Campaign on Genetic Engineering, National Family Farm Coalition, December 2009, 4, of%20Hand.FullReport.pdf. 39. Organic Consumers Association, Millions Against Monsanto website, accessed February 29, 2012, monsanto/action.cfm. thrive, to compare seeds from different com- panies, or to investigate environmental side effects, for example).40 Not only do farmers find themselves locked into a cycle of buying new seeds from a particular company each year, they also oftentimes become reliant on the same company’s pesticides, which are made to accompany many GMOs. GMOs also contaminate non-GMO crops. Because plants cross-pollinate via wind and insects, the pollen of GMO plants can travel to nearby fields and cross with other plants. This threatens farmers’ control over their seed supply and the unique crop traits that they, or their ancestors, may have devel- oped by saving seeds over the years. Organic growers can lose their organic certification if their crops are contaminated. Adding insult 40. The Editors, “Do Seed Companies Control GM Crop Research?,” Scientific American online, August 13, 2009, http:// control-gm-crop-research. Some 250 farmers, scientists, and activists destroying experimental GMO potatoes, Belgium, May 2011. CourtesyoftheBelgianFieldLiberationMovement,”
  • 35. 30 to injury, Monsanto has sued more than 144 farmers since the mid-1990s for patent infringement when their crops have become contaminated. An additional 700 farmers have settled out of court.41 In response to this trend, in 2011 the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association – together with 82 other plaintiffs, including agricultural associations, seed companies, and farmers – brought a lawsuit against Monsanto in Manhattan federal district court to establish protections for organic farmers whose crops are contaminated by GMOs. The court ruled against them, and as of this writing the plaintiffs are considering an appeal. The Organic Consumers Association has spearheaded the “Millions Against Monsanto” campaign, demanding that the company stop intimidating small family farmers and forcing untested and unlabeled genetically engineered foods on consumers. In 2012 the Association gathered enough signatures for a ballot initiative in California to mandate labeling of products containing GMOs. They hope that forcing companies to label in California, the eighth-largest economy in the world, will prompt coun- trywide labeling. And that ultimately, this 41. Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, “Judge Sides with Monsanto: Ridicules Farmers’ Right to Grow Food Without Fear, Contamination and Economic Harm,” Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association website, February 27, 2012, www.osgata. org/judge-sides-with-monsanto-ridicules-farmers-right-to-grow- food-without-fear-contamination-and-economic-harm. transparency, coupled with consumer educa- tion, will make GMO products unmarketable. Labeling laws are also being considered by legislators in Vermont, Washington, Connecticut, and other states. Around the world, farmers and activists have long been taking it upon themselves to destroy Monsanto’s GMO crops. Groups have cut down or pulled up fields of corn, pota- toes, rapeseed, and other crops, sometimes laying them at the entryways of govern- ment buildings where they are demanding anti-GMO legislation. In 2003 in the state of Paraná in Brazil, activists uprooted plants at one of Monsanto’s experimental labs. They went on to file and win a land reform claim and then started their own agroecology cen- ter on the site. “The seeds of life are the seeds of all humanity, our common inheritance for more than 10,000 years, and they should remain as numerous and diverse as the stars above, shared by all, owned by none, and ever filling us with awe and wonder.” — Jeremy Seifert, maker of an upcoming film about GMOs
  • 36. 31 From Growing Profit to Growing Food: Reclaiming Agriculture A mass movement of people is actively creat- ing and supporting smaller-scale, local food networks. But in order for these local sys- tems to truly thrive, we must simultaneously dismantle the policies and structures that have taken agriculture out of the hands of small farmers the world over. The following are a few recent campaigns and victories in the U.S., where farmers, food justice activ- ists, and consumers are uniting to challenge corporate rule. • In one strategy to reduce corporate con- trol of the milk industry, many states, including Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin, are con- sidering bills that would allow more farmers to sell raw milk.42 Milk that is produced and sold locally in small batches doesn’t require the lengthy shelf life or, therefore, the pasteuriza- tion process that has become status quo for industrialized milk. Most often sold 42. Real Raw Milk Facts, “Raw Milk Facts State by State,” Real Raw Milk Facts website, accessed February 29, 2012, http://www.; Dan Flynn, “Indiana, Iowa Stir Raw Milk Debate,” Food Safety News, February 16, 2012, milk-debate/; and Dan Flynn, “Raw Milk Debates Underway in Several States,” Food Safety News, February 6, 2012, http://www. in-3-statehouses. directly off the farm, raw milk creates a more direct link between farmers and consumers, cuts out corporate middle- people, and provides farmers with a larger percentage of the consumer dol- lar. And any raw-milk lover will swear it tastes better and is more nutritious. Vernon Hershberger, a Wisconsin dairy farmer who was recently charged with operating without a license and four criminal misdemeanors for supplying raw milk to a buyers’ club, says, “There is more at stake here than just a farmer and his few customers... [T]his is about the fundamental right of farmers and consumers to engage in peaceful, pri- vate, mutually consenting agreements for food, without additional oversight.”43 • Nine U.S. states have established some legal restraints to keep corpora- tions from buying and owning farms.44 In Pennsylvania, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund has helped individual towns pass and defend local ordinances banning corporate farming in their communities. 43. County Sheriff Project, “Farmer Faces Possible 3-year Prison Term for Feeding Community,” February 24, 2012, http://www. food-independence-march-2-in-wisconsin. 44. New Rules Project, “Corporate Ownership Limitations,” The Institute for Local Self-Reliance, accessed February 29, 2012, limitations.
  • 37. 32 • Organizations like the Program on Corporations, Law, and Democracy (POCLAD) have popularized the need to eliminate ‘corporate personhood,’ not just in agriculture but in society in general. Corporate personhood gives corporations the same constitutional rights as human beings under the 14th Amendment, which means they are entitled to due process, equal protec- tion, and free speech. POCLAD has been doing research, hosting workshops, and publishing books and articles to spark conversations about the effects of cor- porate power on our governance, lives and the planet. • Activists are challenging the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which prohibits government restrictions on political spending by corporations. Big agribusiness, as well as all other cor- porate industries, can now have even greater sway over the political process. Communities around the country, led by organizations like Move to Amend and United for the People, have introduced local resolutions calling on Congress to pass a constitutional amendment over- turning Citizens United. As of March 2012, 120 municipalities and two states had passed these resolutions. At the fed- eral level, 19 different resolutions have been proposed in Congress. • In 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Agriculture held five workshops throughout the country to hear public opinion about corporate consolidation in agriculture. In prepara- tion, organizations formed the ‘Bust the Trust’ coalition to ensure that fam- ily farmers and consumers had a strong presence at the workshops. In May 2011, when the government had still not released its findings from the hearings, 160 groups sent a letter to the govern- ment asking that they announce an action plan for addressing the problem of corporate consolidation.45 45. Testimony from the hearings can be found at www.justice. gov/atr/public/workshops/ag2010/index.html. A rally in New York City, February 2012, following hearings in a lawsuit to protect farmers against legal action if their crops become contaminated with GMOs. ©TequilaMinsky
  • 38. 33 The Consumer’s Got To Change The System Ben Burkett46 Ben Burkett is a family farmer, the coordinator of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives for the state of Mississippi, the president of the board of the National Family Farm Coalition, and a member of the food sovereignty commission of Via Campesina. The Federation of Southern Cooperatives grew out of the civil rights movement. We are prob- ably 90 percent African American, but we have white, Native American, and Hispanic farmers. Racism is still here in the marketplace and in credit, but we have learned to deal with it and not give up on changing the system. We struggle every day to bring about a change. We work with co-ops in 16 Southern states. Everything we’re about is food sovereignty, though I don’t think that many farmers in Mississippi really know the term. It’s the right of every individual on earth to wholesome food, clean water, clean air, clean land, and the self-deter- mination of a local community to their rights of intellectual property to grow and to do what they want. We just recognize the natural flow of life; it’s just what we’ve always done. Like myself, I’m a fourth-generation farmer on a farm that my great-grandfather homesteaded in 1889. That wasn’t but about 20 years after the end of slavery. He got 164 acres from the United States gov- ernment. I still have the title – they called it a patent – signed by Grover Cleveland. And we’re still farming that same land. Our view is local production for local consumption. The crops we grow, we sell them mostly within a 300-mile radius of this [Indian Springs Farmers Association-owned] packing facility. We don’t want a change. We just want to go back to the way things were. It’s just supporting mankind as small farmers and family farmers. It’s not so much a matter of making money, it’s a matter of carrying on so your farm will continue on. But you have to make some profit off it in order to keep it going. Some say the system is working. It appears to be working fine, but corporate agriculture is not sustainable. Our system of growing food is heavy, heavy, heavy dependent on petro-chemicals, 46. Ben Burkett, interview with Beverly Bell, Indian Springs Farmers Association Co-op packing plant, Indian Springs, MS, June 22, 2010. 33
  • 39. 34 Ben Burkett on his farm in Petaluma, Mississippi, with his great-nephew. courtesyofGrassrootsInternational on inorganic compounds, mostly petroleum-based. And then it takes too much control out of the local community. Now, it might last for several decades, but in the end it can’t last. You’ve got a few companies that want to control all the seedstock of the world, and they’ve just about got a handle on marketing three of the main commodities: corn, soybean, and cot- ton. It’s hard to find seeds that aren’t treated with the Monsanto-manufactured Roundup Ready. I’ve tried to find cotton that wasn’t treated, but I couldn’t. Now they’re working on con- trolling wheat and rice. 34
  • 40. 35 And they make those seeds so most of them don’t regenerate the next year anyway. But if you do save any of the seeds, Monsanto and the other companies are going to prosecute you for saving their property. Those seeds are patented, the property of the seed company, so they reserve the right to keep them. They’ll take you to court and make you pay back their money. Basically you’re just sharecropping for them, you’re leasing their seeds. I don’t think that’s fair. Once you’ve bought the seeds and planted them on your own land, it looks to me like they ought to be your own seeds. That’s the essence of life. Where did Monsanto and the other companies get their first seed from? Someone gave them to them. Those seeds didn’t fall out of the sky. Through the National Family Farm Coalition, we signed onto the protest against the seeds Monsanto sent to Haiti. Developing countries such as Haiti have no need for Monsanto, for hybrid seeds or GMO seeds, no kind of way. Let them use their traditional seeds they’ve been saving for hundreds of years. Let them propagate and then continue to farm traditionally. Because if they get used to buying from America, they’ll lose the diversity of seed that they need in order to build new seed. Normally when those types of seeds and other products from America hit a country, local farmers lose. They get put out of business, they can’t compete. We’ve been – I don’t want to use the word co-opted – trained by the institutions of agriculture, the companies, the university system, and technology, to give our rights over to the company, which I think is absolutely wrong. We have to be more proactive than reactive as small farmers, family farmers. We can’t wait for the government and large corporations to dictate to us what we can do in our region. They got a unique way of buying you off to not fight here. The American consumer doesn’t care as long as it’s cheap. But no matter what us farmers plant, the consumer’s got to change the system. People buying the end product have to complain. As long as they don’t complain, there’s no need even talking about it. The marketplace dictates. 35
  • 41. 36 “If I’m hoeing or cleaning out the chicken house, I have time to think. If I’m on the tractor, I have time to think.” Dena Hoff is explaining how she fits dream- ing up ways to challenge international trade policies into her days. At the moment, she has stepped away from her farm, close to 500 acres of everything you can imagine – vegetables, dry beans, corn, wheat, sheep, poultry, cows, and more – for eight precious days of summer in order to be a part of the National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC) board meeting. “That’s way too long this time of year. I try not to be away from lambing through harvest.” But Dena shows up for these meetings each year anyway, motivated, she says, by “the audac- ity of multinational corporations to control government agencies and to write the rules that impact us.” NFFC is a network of 28 rural and family farm organizations from around the coun- try. Together with other national coalitions, they bring together farmers, organizers, and policy analysts towards the goal of changing government agricultural policy. “I grew up where Union Carbide mined ura- nium,” says Dena, “and I saw people all over my little community dying because Union Carbide left this big pit and then went away when it was no longer economically viable for them. Then I started learning all these other issues like corporate concentration and the lack of credit and farm bill issues, and realized how interconnected everything was, from the grassroots all the way to the global. You have to pay attention to the whole picture.” “Brought to you by…”: How Government Policies Underwrite Corporate Profit In tandem with the steady industrialization of our food systems, the last 50 years have witnessed the erosion of national agricul- tural policies that support farmers. The U.S. government, for example, used to set 3.  Good  Growing  Conditions: Changing  Government  Policies 36
  • 42. 37 price floors for certain commodity crops (nonperishable staples like corn, wheat, rice, and cotton), which acted like a minimum wage for farmers, regulating the lowest amount they could be paid for their prod- ucts. Another government program, that of maintaining grain reserves, allowed farmers to store some grain crops in seasons when they overproduced; the reserves could then be released into the market in future, less abundant seasons. This regulation of extra grain helped prevent food shortages and price spikes. But agribusinesses wanted to buy com- modity crops, from which they make their products, as cheaply as possible. So they pressured legislators to end price-regulat- ing policies. In the 1970s, the government started chipping away at price floors and grain reserves, and in 1996 they were elimi- nated completely. Farmers lowered their prices in response, attempting to attract more customers, and at the same time had to boost production to compensate for lost income. Prices spiraled downward. Farmers were suffering and the government, to keep them from going under, ramped up the subsidy system. Subsidies, which began in the 1930s during the Great Depression, use taxpayer money to give commodity farm- ers direct payments, tax breaks, subsidized insurance, and other financial support. These government payments allow farms to continue selling their products cheaply with- out going out of business. Despite common misperceptions, the real winners of the subsidy system are not by and large the farmers receiving the payments. Instead, they are the corporations who buy, process, transport, and resell the commodi- ties. Commodity crops are generally not sold directly to consumers. They are sold to mid- dlepeople who package and resell them, or who turn the raw materials into other prod- ucts – corn to produce animal feed, corn syrup, or ethanol, for example. Subsidies allow corporations to buy these goods from farmers for such artificially low prices that they make an even higher profit, while tax- payers foot the bill. The meat industry is a perfect example. About half of all the corn and soybeans grown in the U.S. are used to feed livestock.47 The cheaper the cost of corn and soybeans, the less money factory farms pay out for animal feed, the less money pro- cessors pay out for meat, and the more both make in profit.48 The mix of subsidies, together with deregu- lated agricultural policies, creates such a skewed equation that some commodity crops are sold for even less money than it costs to grow them. This practice, called 47. Timothy Wise, “Identifying the Real Winners from U.S. Agricultural Policies,” (Global Development and Environment Institute Working Paper No. 05-07, December 2005), 3. 48. Meat raised in this way costs less on grocery store shelves, but only in exchange for mistreated animals, a degraded environment, and meat that is less healthy for consumers. Small farmers who don’t rely on grain but instead allow their animals to graze on pasture – a healthier practice for animals, consumers, and the planet – don’t reap the financial benefits of cheap industrial animal feed.
  • 43. 38 stamps, can be positive for both farmers and consumers. Subsidies need to be restruc- tured while, even more fundamentally, new policies need to be implemented to promote a just and sustainable food system. “The only way we’re going to… change the most basic attitude of policy-makers… is for you and me to become the policy- makers, taking charge of every aspect of our food system – from farm to fork.”51 — Jim Hightower, former Agriculture Commissioner of Texas Seeds of Policy Change People across the nation are advocating for policies that better support small farmers, make healthy food accessible to all, respect the rights of farmworkers, and preserve farmland. They’re also promoting changes in international policies, like trade agree- ments and food aid programs, to stop harming farmers in other parts of the globe. Some recent policy victories and campaigns include: 51. “Jim Hightower” in “One Thing To Do about Food: A Forum,” Alice Waters, ed., The Nation, September 11, 2006, 21. ‘dumping,’ enables corporations to undercut farmers around the world. Between 2000 and 2003, for example, while the cost of pro- ducing rice was approximately $415 per ton, government subsidies allowed agribusiness companies to sell it overseas for just $275 per ton.49 In 2002, cotton was exported at 61 percent, and wheat at 43 percent, below the cost of production.50 This whole perplexing system is kept in place by close-knit relationships between corpora- tions and government. Members of Congress give out subsidies that keep costs low for agribusiness and pass legislation that opens markets in their favor. In return, corporations support legislators with campaign contribu- tions, votes, and investment in their districts. A revolving door spins government officials into corporate positions and then back again. Yet throwing out government subsidies alto- gether isn’t a workable solution. Eliminating this support system without changing the underlying conditions that make commod- ity farms dependent on it won’t benefit farmers. And some subsidies, like grants for sustainable agriculture, tax credits for renewable energy conversions, and food 49. Kate Raworth and Duncan Green, “Kicking down the Door: How Upcoming WTO Talks Threaten Farmers in Poor Countries”, (Oxfam Briefing Paper #72, Oxfam International, April 2005), 4, details/214560.htm. 50. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, “United States Dumping on World Agricultural Markets: February 2004 Update,” (Cancun Series Paper #1, February 2004), 3, US_Dumping_on_World_Agricultural_Markets_Febru.pdf.
  • 44. 39 • The National Family Farm Coalition, farmer Dena Hoff’s group that we men- tioned above, is educating and lobbying for better loan and grant programs for farmers. They’re also working for the reinstatement of price floors which would set minimum prices farmers must receive for their goods, as well as grain reserves to regulate the dramatic swings of scarcity and surplus. They, together with other groups like Food and Water Watch, Food First, and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, are engaged in research, education, and strategy to help turn farmers, consumers, and all of us into effective policy-change advocates. • People from all walks – rooftop garden- ers, PTA parents, ranchers, and chefs – are becoming more involved in the U.S. Farm Bill. Up for renewal every five to seven years, this hugely influential legisla- tion lays out the framework for national food and farming policy. It regulates agri- cultural subsidies, food stamps, school lunch programs, rural conservation, and everything in between. Given the heavy impact the set of laws has on our daily lives, more and more people are assert- ing that we cannot leave its shaping to policymakers alone. The Community Food Security Coalition, a coalition of nearly 300 organizations, drafted a platform of top priorities for the 2012 Farm Bill, and helped organizations learn about and lobby for those changes During the lead-up to the Farm Bill vote in 2008, the Farm and Food Policy Diversity Initiative brought together farmers and farmworkers of color to ensure that their perspectives were heard in the legislative process. They helped secure policies putting a morato- rium on land foreclosures in cases where there was a claim of discrimination, pri- oritizing socially disadvantaged farmers for federal loans and grants, and pro- moting locally grown produce in food stamp and school-lunch programs. • In 2009, the “Country of Origin Labeling” (COOL) law went into effect. This fed- eral law mandates that retailers label certain meats, produce, and nuts with their country of origin. In 2011, the WTO ruled against the COOL label- ing for meat products, claiming that it interfered with international trade law. (Other WTO decisions that year included a ruling against U.S. ‘dolphin-safe’ tuna labels and the overturning of a U.S. ban on candy- and cola-flavored cigarettes.) Activists and groups like Food and Water Watch are pressuring President Obama to appeal the ruling. Some states such as Vermont, Minnesota, Montana and Maine have their own state-labeling policies and programs to help residents choose foods produced closer to home. Regional efforts, like one run in Western Massachusetts by Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, also label local goods. Their ‘Local Hero’ logo adorns
  • 45. 40 products in grocery stores, restau- rants, farms, garden centers, and public institutions. • U.S. meat- and dairy-eaters are becom- ing wise to the ways of industrial meat, dairy, and egg production, and demand- ing an end to animal abuse. Ninety percent of laying hens in the U.S., for example, spend their entire lives in cages smaller than the standard-sized piece of paper.52 In 2008, California residents organized a ballot initiative requiring that “calves raised for veal, egg-laying hens and pregnant pigs be confined only in ways that allow these animals to lie down, stand up, fully extend their 52. The Humane Society of the United States, “Battery Cages,” July 14, 2010, facts/battery_cages.html. Occupy Wall Street march, New York, December 2011. The National Young Farmers Coalition connects new farmers to share skills and fight for national policies that will “keep them farming for a lifetime.” EdwardCrimmins
  • 46. 41 Residents speak to the Springfield, Massachusetts city council in support of a local ordinance to protect and promote community gardens, March 2012. The youth organization Gardening the Community began crafting the ordinance after losing access to the garden lot they had been working on for more than 10 years. limbs and turn around freely.”53 More Californians voted for the law than for any other citizen initiative in state his- tory.54 Though the right to stand up or 53. California Office of the Secretary of State, “Prop 2: Standards for Confining Farm Animals,” California General Election Official Voter Information Guide, November 4, 2008, http:// sum.htm. 54. Tracie Cone, “Lawmakers Rally around Animal Welfare Issues,” Associated Press, May 29, 2009, http://www.nctimes. com/news/state-and-regional/article_71d7def6-5874-5c09-93c0- 7e0643eb904b.html. turn around is a small step, California’s legislation is part of an overall trend in addressing animals’ well-being. Michigan has since passed a similar bill, and Arizona, Colorado, Florida, and Maine have passed laws to phase out gestation crates, in which pregnant pigs are kept in cages only slightly larger than the span of their bodies. Individual consumers are increasingly switching to cage-free eggs and pasture-raised meats, and corpora- tions are being forced to change their practices as a result. AaronDonovan
  • 47. 42 Youth Food Bill of Rights: Rooted in Community Rooted In Community (RIC) is a national grassroots network that empowers young people to take leadership for food justice. Each year RIC organizes a gathering where youth from around the country come together to share knowledge and skills, build relationships, and strategize. At the 2011 leadership summit, youth began creating a Youth Food Bill of Rights. In RIC’s words: “It’s what youth believe our food system should be like! It’s a work in progress. It’s created by youth. It’s a Statement to All. It’s a tool for Change!!!” There are currently 19 demands that span from school-wide to global. Here are just a few: • We the youth demand more healthy food choices in our schools, and in schools all over the world. We want vending machines out of schools unless they have healthy choices. We need healthier school lunches that are implemented by schools with the ingredients decided on by the youth. We demand composting in schools and in our neighborhoods. • We the youth demand a ban on high fructose corn syrup and other additives, and preservatives that are a detriment to our and our communities’ health. This must be implemented by our govern- ment, and governments around the world. • We demand school assemblies to recruit more youth to promote food justice. The continuation of the movement for food justice, food sover- eignty and cultivation of future youth leaders is necessary for feeding our youth, our nation and our world. Youth from Rooted in Community sign the Youth Food Bill of Rights. courtesyofRootedinCommunity 42
  • 48. 43 Declaring Local Control: Food and Community Self-Governance On a windy November day in Blue Hill, Maine, Heather Retberg is standing at the microphone on the steps of town hall sur- rounded by 200 people bundled in heavy coats. “We are farmers,” she tells the crowd, “who are supported by our friends and our neighbors who know us and trust us, and want to ensure that they maintain access to their chosen food supply.” Blue Hill is one of a handful of small Maine towns that have been taking bold steps to protect their local food systems. In 2011, they passed an ordinance exempting their local farmers and food producers from fed- eral and state licensure requirements when these farmers sell directly to customers. The federal government has stiffened national food-safety regulations in order to address the health risks associated with industrial-scale farming. Recent widespread recalls of contaminated ground turkey, can- taloupe, eggs, and a host of other foods illustrate the serious problems at hand. These outbreaks have been linked to indus- trial farms with overcrowded animals and unbalanced ecosystems. Furthermore, the significant distance between industrial farms and consumers creates a lack of accountabil- ity and difficulties tracing problems when they arise. Small-scale farming, however, doesn’t spark the same safety risks. Small farmers who sell their food locally will tell you that the nature of their business, based on face-to- face relationships with the people who eat their food, creates a built-in safety protec- tion. They don’t need inspectors to make sure they are following good practices; keep- ing their neighbors, families, and long-time customers in good health is an even better incentive. Customers are also more able to witness the farming practices firsthand. Still, small farmers are being pushed out of business because they are saddled with the financial and bureaucratic burdens of the same regulations as large industrial farms. Heather and her family’s Quill’s End Farm raise grass-fed beef and veal, lamb, pastured pork, chickens for eggs and meat, turkeys, dairy cows and goats, a diverse mix that is better both for the land and the economic viability of the farm. Given the scale of their business, building their own chicken process- ing unit is financially out of the question, however, so instead, they were butchering at a neighboring farm’s USDA-approved unit. When state inspectors told them that USDA regulations didn’t allow them to share this neighbor’s facility, Quill’s End Farm was forced to stop raising and selling chickens altogether. “I just remember the feeling that if that was happening to us, the same message was being given to all sorts of farmers of our scale and people were just going to give up
  • 49. 44 Since then, says Heather, “We’ve heard from people in Tennessee, Texas, California, Virginia… someone in New Zealand. Last year, Vermont passed a food sovereignty resolution with similar language. Over in California they’re working in the direction of an ordinance in Mendocino County. In Arizona they’re beginning to circulate peti- tions. And this fall we heard that a town in Utah had passed the ordinance.” As of this writing, Maine’s State Department of Agriculture is challenging one of the local ordinances by suing a dairy farmer. Community members are reaching out to friends in surrounding counties and national Farmers and community members in Blue Hill, Maine rally to defend their recently enacted Local Food and Community Self- Governance Ordinance. and stop farming,” says Heather. “My sense, more than anything, was a really daunting realization that, ‘Oh, this is how farms get disappeared.’ And people are so supportive, but then when we disappear, everybody might just kind of shake their heads like, ‘Oh, it must just be really tough to make it farming.’ There’s sort of an expectation that farming will fail but not much under- standing about why that happens.” So Heather, together with a small group of other farmers and farm patrons in Maine, began crafting the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance, the first of its kind in the country. The ordinance exempts direct sales between farmers and customers (at farms, farm- stands, and markets, for example) from state and federal licensing and inspec- tions. It allows Heather, for example, to sell chicken at her farmstore, and Bob St. Peter, a fellow farmer and organizer, to sell his homemade cookies at the farmers’ market. In March 2011, the ordinance passed unanimously in the town of Sedgwick, Maine. Three days later it was presented at Heather’s town meeting in Penobscot. “We spent a good while talking about whether to give $3,000 to our local library,” says Heather, “and I was sitting there thinking ‘Whoa, this is a tough crowd.’ But then when the ordinance came up, it was another unan- imous vote. It was tremendous.” Four other towns in Maine followed suit. PeterRobbins
  • 50. 45 “Collective black self-recovery takes place when we begin to renew our relationship to the earth, when we remember the way of our ancestors… Living in modern society, without a sense of history, it has been easy for folks to forget that black people were first and foremost a people of the land, farmers.” — bell hooks food justice coalitions, asking them to call in and urge the state to drop the suit. Meanwhile, organizers from far and wide are watching closely, hoping to launch similar initiatives in their own communities. In addition to town efforts like those in Maine, farmers and activists are attempting to tackle the government’s one-size-fits-all approach to food safety at the federal level. When U.S. leg- islators voted to increase FDA inspections and reporting requirements for farms in 2010, over 150 food groups succeeded in winning an amendment that provides some exemptions for small farmers. “Foodborne illnesses don’t come from family agriculture,” says Senator Jon Tester from Montana, who co-sponsored the amendment.55 55. Helena Bottemiller, “Tester Offers Hope on S. 510, Help for Small Farms,” Food Safety News, September 27, 2010, accessed February 28, 2012,
  • 51. 46 Dismantling the Plantation: Challenging Discrimination in the USDA In 1920, one in every seven farmers in the U.S. was African American. Together, they owned nearly 15 million acres. By 1982, however, African American farmers numbered one in 67, together owning only 3.1 million acres.56 Racism, violence, and massive migration from the rural South to the industrialized North caused a steady decline in the number of Black farmers. Institutional racism in the agricultural policies of the USDA was also to blame. Over the years, studies by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission (CRC), as well as by the USDA itself, have shown that the USDA actively discriminated against Black farmers, earning it the nickname ‘the last plan- tation.’ A 1964 CRC study showed that the agency unjustly denied African American farmers loans, disaster aid, and representation on agricultural committees.57 But organizations like the National Black Farmers Association, the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association, the Land Loss Prevention Project, and the Federation of Southern Cooperatives are challenging racism in agricultural policy through legal action. In 1997-98, African American farmers filed class-action lawsuits against the USDA for unjustly denying them loans. The lawsuits were consolidated into one case, Pigford v. Glickman, which was settled in 1999. But due to delays in filing claims, nearly 60,000 farmers and their heirs were left out of this settlement. In November 2010, the U.S. Congress passed the Claims Settlement Act (known as Pigford II) to compensate Black farmers who were left out of the first settlement. President Obama signed the bill a month later, making $1.25 billion available for claimants in the form of cash payments and loan forgiveness.58 56. Public Broadcasting System, “Challenging the USDA (1980s and 1990s),” Black Farming and Land Loss: A History, itvs/homecoming/history7.html. 57. Public Broadcasting System, “The Civil Rights Years (1954-1968),” Black Farming and Land Loss: A History, homecoming/history5.html. 58. The Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association filed an appeal because the benefits paid out in the recent settlement are smaller than those of the first and require those who take part to waive their right to appeal. Sara Patterson, “Black Farmers Urged to ‘Wait’ on Settlement: group president Asks for timeout,” The Commercial Appeal online, December 31, 2011, news/2011/dec/31/black-farmers-urged-to-wait/ and Jody Callahan, “Farmers Rally against Settlement over Discrimination: Oppose provision to waive right to appeal,” The Commercial Appeal online, January 3, 2012, rally-against-settlement-over/. 46
  • 52. 47 “We’re reaching a place in which there’s ever-wider agreement that poetry gives us as much infor- mation about our relationship with the universe as telescopes do, and that those two strains can live together and comple- ment one another harmoniously.” — John Mohawk, Iroquois, professor and author59 In Western Massachusetts, on a sunny February day, a farmers’ market is taking place in an elementary school entryway. The smell is a mix of apple cider, homemade donuts, and gymnasium. Long rows of tables are heavy with piles of root vegetables, hardy apples, fresh pies, pasture-raised lamb, honey wine, and handmade brooms. There is enough diversity that, if determined and 59. John Mohawk, “Clear Thinking: A Positive Solitary View of Nature,” in Melissa K. Nelson, ed., Original Instructions: Indigenous Teachings for a Sustainable Future (Vermont: Bear & Company, 2008), 49. creative, one could make it through an admi- rable portion of a long northern winter. In the last few years, winter farmers’ mar- kets have been turning up everywhere, tucked into corners of community centers, churches, and school auditoriums. Farmers in cold climes are pushing the limits of their seasons, growing vegetables in greenhouses and building giant root cellars to make har- vests last. And communities are aligning their appetites with their climates, relin- quishing mealy winter tomatoes in favor of the joys of parsnips and cabbage. In today’s globalized system, the number of miles a typical piece of food travels before it gets to its final point of sale averages 1,000 to 1,500, depending on which of the many studies one is reading. A small bag of trail mix we recently purchased listed 11 countries as far-flung as Greece, Chile, India, Vietnam, and Tanzania as possible sources for its three ingredients of almonds, cashews, and raisins. 4.  Bringing  it  Home:  Creating  and   Reviving  Local  Food  Systems 47
  • 53. 48 Food literally transverses the globe, creat- ing a major disconnect between us and our source of survival, and creating plenty of opportunities for middlepeople to make a profit along the way. For every dollar spent on food in the U.S., about 84 cents go to middlepeople, while only 16 cents go to farmers.60 Nearly one-fifth of oil and gas consumption in the U.S. is used to power our industrial- ized food system.61 This doesn’t just include fuel for shipping food, but also for grow- ing it (tractors, pesticides, and fertilizers), 60. Patrick Canning, “A Revised and Expanded Food Dollar Series. A Better Understanding of Our Food Costs,” (Economic Research Report No. 114, U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, February 2011), iv. 61. Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (New York: Penguin Press, 2006), 83. processing it (factories, refrigeration, packaging materials), and distributing it (warehouses, stores, and restaurants). When we stand in front of our open refrigerators peering in for a snack, the cold air stream- ing out the door is the last hurrah on the long, energy-intensive journey our food has In Santa Fe, New Mexico, one of a growing number of winter farmers’ markets. “My whole life has been spent waiting for an epiphany, a manifestation of God’s presence, the kind of transcen- dent, magical experience that lets you see your place in the big picture. And that is what I had with my first compost heap.” — Bette Midler, actor, singer, and comedian ToryField
  • 54. 49 made. Between 7.3 and 10 units of fossil-fuel energy are required for each unit of food energy that we consume.62 In our current food system, far more energy is used up getting that small bag of trail mix into our hands than we gain from eating it. Some advocates are strict in their com- mitment to local sourcing, envisioning an entirely local diet. Others believe that if something can’t be grown in a region and is imported, the price should more closely reflect the true costs, including the environ- mental impacts of transporting the far-flung food. Taken alone, ‘local’ or ‘organic’ doesn’t nec- essarily equate ‘sustainable.’ Local foods can be grown with heavy pesticides or with- out respecting workers’ rights. And today 62. John Talberth, et al., “Building a Resilient and Equitable Bay Area: Towards a Coordinated Strategy for Economic Localization,” Center for Sustainable Systems, November 2006, 9; and Christopher Cook, Diet for a Dead Planet (New York: New Press, 2006), 252. The 7.3 figure is taken from the first report; however, David Pimentel of Cornell University claims the figure is closer to 10. we have the Walmartization of organics, replicating some of the same destruc- tive practices of industrial agriculture. An increasing amount of organic produce is grown on industrial-sized farms relying on harmful practices like monocropping and poor water and soil management, and more of it is being shipped around the globe. As organic food has become a trendy, lucra- tive market, big companies like Kellogg, M&M Mars, and Cargill have gotten in on the gold rush, buying up smaller organic companies and starting organic lines. A deluge of ‘green-washing,’ marketing with intentionally vague labels such as ‘natural’ or ‘naturally raised’ and drawings of idyllic country scenes, is further manipulating and misinforming consumers. “Americans import Danish sugar cookies, and Danes import American sugar cook- ies. Exchanging recipes would surely be more efficient.” — Herman Daly, economist Angelic Organics, an organic and biodynamic CSA with more than 1,200 members outside of Chicago. Their learning center brings hundreds of people to the farm each year to learn skills and connect with their food system. LesleyFreeman,AngelicOrganics
  • 55. 50 Shovels Ready: Building Local Food Systems At its most basic, sustainability connotes a system capable of continuing indefinitely without compromising future life (including trees, insects, humans, soil, indeed all life). Sustainability is also sometimes described as a three-legged stool: In order to be bal- anced, it must sit equally on sturdy legs of economics, environment, and equity. A food system contributes to community sustain- ability if it is economically viable for small farmers; nourishing of the earth and ele- ments; and socially equitable for all involved, including farm and food workers and consumers. “People are realizing that we can’t rely on the industrial food system much longer. The awakening that’s happening is our greatest opportunity,” says New Mexican farmer and activist Miguel Santistevan. This awakening is sparking the creation and revival of local, holistic systems that nourish communities and the earth. The examples are virtually endless. Here are just a few: • Community Supported Agriculture, or CSAs, create a direct partnership between a farm and members of the community. Members pay farmers at the beginning of the season, providing them with cash needed to purchase seeds and equipment. In return, each week they receive a share of the harvest, whatever is growing at the time. Members commit to sharing both the benefits and risks of each season. If there is a bumper crop of watermelon, everyone enjoys the abundance. If disease wipes out the tomatoes, share-members ride that out as well. This commitment from members gives farmers more protection from both the whims of nature and price fluctua- tions of the market. By cutting out the middlepeople, members have a more Rooted in Community promotes solidarity suppers, like this one hosted by Berkeley Youth Alternatives using food from their garden. RIC suggests,“In solidarity with everyone around the country fighting for food justice, share or host a meal with your friends, family, and community members with the following guidelines: Food items gathered from 5 miles or less; Food prepared and cooked together by group; Calling mindfulness and thanks to the ground that nourished the food, the hands that nurtured and prepared the food, and the nutrients that the food will provide for our bodies.” CourtesyofBerkeleyYouthAlternatives
  • 56. 51 direct relationship with where their food comes from and receive a better price for local food. Started in Japan, CSAs are catching on all over the U.S. and the world. Since its introduction in the U.S. in the l980s, the model has expanded to over 12,000 farms.63 In some cases, members pick up their share at the farm itself, and in others, farmers drop off boxes of pro- duce at distribution sites, making CSAs possible in both rural and urban areas. The CSA model is now being used not only for vegetables but also for many 63. U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Publications: Community Supported Agriculture,” last modified February 16, 2012, http:// other goods like grains, meat, dairy, fish, medicinal herbs, pies, and spun wool. • Farmers’ markets are also experiencing a meteoric rise. Between 1994 and 2011, farmers’ markets registered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture increased 400 percent. They now number over 7,000.64 Markets are also vibrant com- munity gathering spots, places to meet, play, connect, and unwind. Food from a farmers’ market or CSA typically travels between 10 and 100 miles, unlike the 64. U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Farmers Market Growth: 1994-2011,” last modified August 08, 2011, http://www.ams. plateS&leftNav=WholesaleandFarmersMarkets&page=WFM FarmersMarketGrowth&description=Farmers%20Market%20 Growth&acct=frmrdirmkt. Harvesting greens at Next Barn Over Farm in Hadley, Massachusetts. CSA members visit the farm weekly from June to October to pick up their share of the harvest. ToryField
  • 57. 52 long distances traveled by their grocery- store counterparts. • Farmers are growing food for public institutions like schools, universities, hospitals, and prisons. In one instance, the Berkeley Unified School District did away with its tater tots and canned peaches through a policy of increasing the amount of local, organic food it pur- chases. “We’ve gone from 95 percent processed foods to 95 percent made from scratch,” says chef Ann Cooper.65 To help allay the higher food costs asso- ciated with this program, the school system has gotten bulk discounts from farmers and processors, sources a sig- nificant amount of fresh produce from school-sponsored gardens, and uses fed- eral reimbursements from the USDA as well as sales to students. There are now 2,352 farm-to-school programs operat- ing in 50 states.66 • Real Food Challenge is working to shift $1 billion worth of college and university food purchases towards local, sustain- able, and fair sources, and away from industrial agriculture. The nationwide project supports student organizers as they develop campus-wide campaigns to get their schools to commit to purchas- ing 20% “real food” by 2020. They host 65. Anna Lappé, “Doing Lunch,” The Nation, August 27, 2006. 66. Farm to School Network, “Statistics,” accessed February 22, 2012, leadership trainings and events, provide materials and other organizing sup- port, and have developed a Real Food Calculator to help track institutional food purchasing. They define real food as “food which truly nourishes produc- ers, consumers, communities and the earth. It is a food system – from seed to plate – that fundamentally respects human dignity and health, animal wel- fare, social justice and environmental sustainability.” • Most people have heard the sad joke that if your illness doesn’t kill you when you get admitted into the hospital, the food will. Fletcher Allen Health Care in Vermont and Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Illinois and Oklahoma are just a few of the hospitals around the coun- try that are part of a growing network of farm-to-hospital programs.67 Three hundred and seventy five hospitals in the U.S. have signed a pledge, organized by the group Health Care without Harm, to offer more fruits and vegetables, as 67. Center for Food & Justice, Urban & Environmental Policy Institute, Occidental College and Community Food Security Coalition, “Farm to Hospital: Supporting Local Agriculture and Improving Health Care,” 2007, 5. “To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.” — Mahatma Gandhi
  • 58. 53 well as locally grown, fair-trade, and pes- ticide- and hormone-free food.68 Some hospitals also host onsite farmers’ mar- kets, plant gardens, and compost food scraps. • Farmers are continuing the time- honored practice of banding together through marketing cooperatives. Selling everything from cheese to cantaloupe, co-ops give small producers more bar- gaining power in the marketplace. They 68. Health Care without Harm, “Healthy Food Pledge,” accessed March 16, 2012, allow producers to pay discounted prices by buying in bulk; lower their transpor- tation and distribution costs by sharing resources such as delivery trucks; earn a higher profit by eliminating some of the middlepeople; and access federal tax deductions. In 2008, the USDA reported that there were over 2,400 farmer, ranch, and fishery co-ops in the U.S., with a combined business volume of $191.9 bil- lion.69 One small-scale example is Moo 69. U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Cooperative Statistics 2008,” November 2009, 12, CoopStats2008.pdf. Eric Hesse unloads live cod for delivery to Boston’s Chinatown. Eric’s fishing operation is part of a Community Supported Fishery on Cape Cod, in which community members can buy a subscription share to purchase seafood that is caught in local waters by local fishermen and delivered fresh to a pick-up location. CourtesyofCapeCodCommercialFishermen’sAssociation. 53
  • 59. 54 Milk in Maine. In 2010, 10 organic dairy farmers who had been dropped by the giant corporation Hood created the co-op, through which farmers now keep up to 90% of the profits. • Community gardens are sprouting up everywhere, with an estimated 18,000 in the U.S. and Canada.70 In most cases, members rent a small plot for a modest 70. American Community Garden Association, “Frequently Asked Questions,” accessed February 22, 2012, www.communitygarden. org/learn/faq.php. fee. These patchwork-quilt gardens, pri- marily in urban areas, provide a local food source, build community relation- ships, beautify the neighborhood, and give more people the opportunity to eat homegrown food. • Educational gardening projects give chil- dren and teens the opportunity to get their hands dirty and learn about grow- ing food. In East Oakland, California, youth with Oakland Food Connection grew over 3,000 pounds of produce in school-based gardens in one year. Now they’re branching out to create value- added products, like sauerkraut and jellies, and to run a catering business. On the other side of the country, in Orange, Massachusetts, Seeds of Solidarity works with rural and working-class youth to tend gardens at schools, a homeless shel- ter, and an elder care facility. Deborah Habib, director of Seeds of Solidarity, says, “Every person is capable of help- ing to feed their community. To me, it’s really about reclaiming the heart- hands-land connection, so we can each participate, not only as consumers, but really participate by cultivating the earth and cultivating foods.” Setting up bee hives at D-Town Farm in Detroit. The Detroit Black Community Food Security Network runs D-Town Farm, teaches gardening skills, and educates about the food system. They also work on policy change and dismantling racism to build food security in Detroit’s black community. CourtesyofDetroitBlackCommunityFoodSecurityNetwork.
  • 60. 55 Putting the Culture Back in Agriculture: Reviving Native Food and Farming Traditions “At one point ‘agriculture’ was about the culture of food. Losing that culture, in favor of an American cultural monocrop, joined with an agricultural monocrop, puts us in a perilous state…” says the indigenous activist Winona LaDuke.71 Her lament is an agribusi- ness executive’s dream. The CEO of the H.J. Heinz Company says, “Once television is there, people, whatever shade, culture, or origin, want roughly the same things.”72 The same things are based on the same tech- nology, same media sources, same global economy, and same food. Together with the loss of cultural diversity, the growth of industrial agriculture has led to an enormous depletion in biodiversity. Throughout history, humans have cultivated about 7,000 species of plants.73 In the last century, three-quarters of the genetic diver- sity of agricultural crops have been lost; 30 crops now provide 95 percent of our food needs, with rice, wheat, maize, and potato 71. Winona LaDuke in “One Thing to Do About Food: A Forum,” Alice Waters, ed., The Nation, September 11, 2006, 18. 72. Sharon Beder, Global Spin: The Corporate Assault on Environmentalism (Devon: Green Books, 2002), 184. 73. Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, “Biodiversity: Plants,” accessed February 22, 2012, components/plants/en/. alone providing 60 percent.74 Eighty-five percent of the apple varieties that once existed in the U.S. have been lost.75 Vast fields of genetically identical crops are much more susceptible to pests, necessitating increased pesticide use. The lack of diversity also endangers the food supply, as an influx of pests or disease can wipe out enormous quantities of crops in one fell swoop. Native peoples’ efforts to protect their crop varieties and agricultural heritage in the U.S. go back 500 years to when the Spanish conquistadors arrived. Today, Native com- munities throughout the U.S. are reclaiming and reviving land, water, seeds, and tradi- tional food and farming practices, thereby putting the culture back in agriculture and agriculture back in local hands. Two initia- tives include: • The White Earth Land Recovery Project in Minnesota, which is recovering healthy stewardship of their original land base. They are harvesting and selling traditional foods such as wild rice, planting gardens and raising greenhouses, and growing food for farm-to-school and feeding-our-elders 74. Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN, “Biodiversity for Food Security,” May 20, 2004, en/news/2004/42621/index.html; and Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, “Biodiversity: Plants,” accessed February 22, 2012, 75. Hope Shand, “Biological Meltdown: The Loss of Agricultural Biodiversity,” Race, Poverty, and the Environment online, Winter 2000,
  • 61. 56 programs. They are reintroducing native sturgeon to local waters as well as work- ing to stop pesticide spraying at nearby industrial farms. They’re also strengthen- ing relationships with food sovereignty projects around the country. Winona LaDuke, the founding director of the project, tells us, “My father used to say, ‘I don’t want to hear your philosophy if you can’t grow corn’… I now grow corn.” • The revival of buffalo herds by Native groups around the country. In the 1800s, European-American settlers drove wild buffalo close to extinction, deci- mating a source of survival for many Native communities. Just one example of the resurgence is the Lakota Buffalo Caretakers Cooperative, a cooperative of small-family buffalo caretakers, on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The cooperative sees its work as three- fold, to “restore the buffalo, restore the native ecology on Pine Ridge, and help renew the sacred connection between the Lakota people and the buffalo nation.”76 At the national level, the InterTribal Bison Cooperative is a net- work of 56 tribal bison programs from around the country with a collective herd of over 15,000.77 76. Lakota Buffalo Caretakers Cooperative, accessed February 22, 2012, 77. Intertribal Bison Cooperative, accessed February 22, 2012, To look more in-depth at the revival of traditional and Native farming, we’ll focus on New Mexico, where Native communi- ties are organizing a wealth of initiatives. Communities around the state have started educational and production farms, youth-elder farming exchanges, buffalo revi- talization programs, seed-saving initiatives, herb-based diabetes treatment programs, a credit union that invests in green and sus- tainable projects, and more. Schools like the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, the Institute of American Indian Arts, and the Santa Fe Indian School – along with other grammar schools, high schools, and non-profit programs – have developed agri- cultural education programs. The Traditional Native American Farmers’ Association helps farmers get back onto the land, hosts workshops on seed saving and agricultural techniques, and has a youth program. The annual Sustainable Food and Seed “The only way we can get our autonomy is when we have the resources in our own hands, when we don’t have to buy from seed companies.” — Emigdio Ballon, Quechua farmer, teacher, and geneticist at Tesuque Natural Farms
  • 62. 57 Sovereignty Symposium at the Tesuque [Indian] Pueblo brings together farmers, herbalists, natural dyers, healers, cooks, seed savers, educators, water protectors, and community organizers. From the 2006 symposium came the Declaration of Seed Sovereignty, which denounced genetically engineered seeds and corporate ownership of Native seeds and crops as “a continuation of genocide upon indigenous people and as malicious and sacrilegious acts toward our ancestry, culture, and future generations.”78 In addition to the symposium, the Tesuque Pueblo also hosts Tesuque Natural Farms, which grows vegetables, herbs, grains, fruit trees, and cover crops, including varieties long lost to the region. The farm provides fresh foods to the senior center, sells at the farmers’ markets, and trains residents to begin farming themselves. The goal is to make the Pueblo autonomous in both food and seeds. The farm also grows medicinal herbs to treat HIV, diabetes, and cancer, and makes biofertilizer from plants. It has also begun gardening with kids at its community Head Start program, and plans to expand to grammar schools. People from across the nation come to Tesuque Natural Farms to study agricul- tural production and to take workshops on pruning, beekeeping, poultry, soil fertility, composting, and other topics. Soon the farm hopes to create a research and education center, where people can come for three to six months. Currently, they’re building a Native seed library. Nayeli Guzman, a Mexica woman who worked at Tesuque Natural Farms, says, “What we’re doing is very simple. These ideas are not an alternative for us, they’re 78. Las Acequias, “A Declaration of Seed Sovereignty: A Living Document for New Mexico,” March 11, 2006, programs/seed-alliance/seed-declaration/. A family on the Navajo Nation in the Four Corners area of the Southwest makes kneel down bread, a traditional food made with blue corn. BrettRamey
  • 63. 58 just a way of life... We need to all work together as land-based people... Creator is not exclusive, so there’s no reason we should be. They tell us, ‘The more biodiversity you have, the richer your soil is going to be.’ It’s like that with people. The more different kinds of people you have, the more able we’re going to be to survive. We can’t compartmentalize ourselves. That’s what industrial agriculture does.” Outside Flagstaff, members from several local indigenous-led organizations come together to grow food to nourish friends and family. BrettRamey
  • 64. 59 A Cooperative Effort: Rebuilding the New Mexico Foodshed Today, in Native and non-Native New Mexico alike, people are reversing corporate trends by creating a ‘regional foodshed,’ a local food ecosystem that bases its boundaries on ecological parameters like water flow, rather than on arbitrary state lines. One important contributor to rebuilding the foodshed along the Rio Grande Valley is La Montañita Co-op food market. A 36-year- old store with five locations throughout the state, one of La Montañita’s slogans is “fair fresh local.” The ecosystem dictates what the co-op sells, Robin Seydel, the co-op’s membership coordinator, tells us. “We want to utilize all the eco-climes up and down the Rio Grande Valley.” Currently, 20 percent of the store’s sales come from more than 1,500 different items produced by nearly 900 local producers. The goal is to increase that to 50 percent. The co-op’s local production coordinator develops plans with farmers to increase the diversity and seasonality of local foods. “That way we’ll have quinoa from Southern Colorado, chili from New Mexico,” says Robin. La Montañita also pro- vides training in land-stewardship practices and product improvement, and negotiates pre-payment on some contracts to help out struggling farmers. Over the past few years, as Robin and others at the co-op watched many local farms go out of business, they realized that a major challenge for farmers – especially given the skyrocketing cost of gas – is transporting their products to market. The co-op now leases a refrigerated truck to bring local goods to its stores, like milk from one of the only two dairy farms in the state that still produces and bottles milk for local consumption. Some other initiatives in New Mexico that are helping build a regional foodshed include: • Community kitchens for small producers so that, without the hefty cost of start- ing their own commercial kitchens, they can create value-added products and capture a better price;79 • Preservation of agricultural lands, both through direct purchase and mechanisms like conservation easements and agricul- tural land trusts;80 • Production, distribution, and marketing alliances to help small farmers increase their sales;81 • Programs to help small farmers sell to institutions, such as directories which link growers with schools;82 and • Farmer-to-farmer trainings to exchange innovative practices and information. 79. See the Taos Food Kitchen of the Taos County Economic Development Corporation, 80. For example, the Quivira Coalition, 81. See, for example, the Southwest Grassfed Livestock Alliance, 82. See, for example, the New Mexico Farm to School Directory,
  • 65. 60 Go talk to the Hopi about how much water corn needs.’ I know an elder Hopi who said, ‘It doesn’t even need to rain. A cloud just needs to fly overhead.’ “We’re surrounded by agricultural land but we have no food security. Right now we’re strapped to the global market. Some people are trying to figure out how to set them- selves free and are showing other people. It’s as if we were all tied to a train that’s headed off a cliff, and pretty soon a lot of us are saying, ‘Hey, I’m going to jump off this train before it goes.’ “All these people think that, dammit, this sys- tem has to conform to the mathematics of engineers, lawyers and economists, with the help of politicians. That’s why I like working with youth, because the youth don’t buy it. They buy a lot of it: this rap music, and the gangster stuff, and the drug subcul- ture. When it comes to what’s happening to “How’re We Going to Fix It?” Sol Feliz Farm is capturing the imagination of an impassioned group of youth in north- ern New Mexico. The creation of Miguel Santistevan and Margarita Garcia, the edu- cational farm is an acre of spiral gardens, rock gardens, and straight rows around Miguel’s grandfather’s house east of Taos. Through the farm’s Agriculture Implementation Research and Education (AIRE) project, Miguel is helping youth reclaim knowledge about traditions behind the land and waters. “You figure maize agriculture, 10,000 years of agricultural evolution, at least,” he says, “and we’re losing all that cumulative knowledge.” At AIRE, the youth get to engage in everything from planting seeds to plucking chickens to visiting the state legislature. On any given morning during the summer, you can find the youth irrigating the field, using the traditional acequia method of diverting flowing water to the land via hand-dug channels. With a master’s degree in agriculture ecol- ogy and partway through a PhD in biology, Miguel is a walking encyclopedia about plants and water – but not the type of encyclopedia you’d find in any local library. “People try to put together equations. ‘Oh, well, you have this many acres and this much corn, and corn requires this much water, so you’ve got to irrigate this many times.’ And I say, ‘Dude, nature doesn’t work that way. “Everyone should grow something, even if you only plant in a crack in the sidewalk.” — Margarita Garcia, farmer from Chamisal, New Mexico 60
  • 66. 61 the mountains, what’s happening to the rivers, what’s happening to the elders, they don’t buy it. Some kids are saying, ‘Oh well, the world’s gonna end anyways. The older generation, they already destroyed the planet. Might as well just party, have a good time.’ But other kids are say- ing, ‘How’re we going to fix it?’ “Our part in this process is not just about social change and justice, it’s also about food produc- tion and how do we feed ourselves. “The other day, we were harvesting corn. Some of these kids are on probation, getting in trouble in school, dropping out of school. Just to see that look on their faces and the wonder as they’re opening that corn up, just amazed at the sight of the kernels, the color… it was awesome. That wonderment, that’s how we’re going to get to the next stage. “The revolution isn’t going to be fought with guns. It’s like [Iroquois author and activist] John Mohawk said at the [Sustainable Food and Seed Sovereignty] conference: the revolution is going to be fought with the hoe. And the shovel. And not against people, but with people, working the land.” Spring cleaning of the acequia that irrigates Sol Feliz farm. Acequias are a traditional irrigation system used through much of New Mexico, and managed democratically by the community. MiguelSantistevan 61
  • 67. 62 “The shortage isn’t food, it’s democracy.” — Francis Moore Lappé, writer and activ- ist, founder of the Small Planet Institute A decade from now, many more small farm- ers and gardeners will be growing healthy food while protecting the environment, their traditions, and local economies. But this will only create a just and sustainable food system if everyone shares in the abundance. In what has been dubbed the food justice movement, determined people are address- ing the poverty and racism that manifests in our food system, and inventing solutions to make good food accessible to all. A sampling in New York, Maryland, and North Carolina found that neighborhoods of color and racially mixed areas had half as many supermarkets as predominantly white neighborhoods.83 Residents without cars or 83. Mark Winston Griffith, “How Harlem Eats: Urban Activists Seek ‘Food Justice,’” The Nation, September 11, 2006, 38. Study conducted by the University of Michigan, 2006. access to adequate public transportation systems are often left to shop for highly pro- cessed food at corner liquor or convenience stores, where prices are usually higher and healthy options fewer than those at sub- urban supermarkets. A nearby fast-food franchise may provide the only other option. In the U.S., unhealthy food is creating unprecedented levels of heart disease and other diet-related illnesses; almost one in four deaths was related to heart disease in 2008.84 At the same time, people continue to go hungry; 14.5 percent of households were deemed ‘food insecure’ in 2010.85 Even when a farmers’ market or CSA is nearby, many households can’t afford the higher cost of local, organic vegetables or the upfront deposit required by most CSAs. Unfortunately, just demanding lower prices 84. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Heart Disease Facts,” last modified March 23, 2012, 2012, heartdisease/facts.htm. 85. U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, “Household Food Security in the United States in 2010,” last modified September 7, 2011, Publications/err125/.  .  Land  of  Plenty:   Making  Good  Food  Accessible  to  All
  • 68. 63 for local, organic foods is not a viable solu- tion: most small farmers can barely survive on their current incomes while trying to compete in an industrialized system not designed in their favor. And so communities are finding creative ways to both support local production and to make food accessible. Some farmers’ mar- kets, for example, are making their products more affordable by accepting food stamps or by doubling the value of purchases so that customers who spend $10 in food stamps receive $20 worth of food. The orga- nization Wholesome Wave is helping this happen at 160 markets in 20 states. Boston’s ‘Bounty Bucks’ program combines city funds and private grants to run a similar program at 21 of its farmers’ markets.86 Communities are also tackling the larger structural injustices that determine access to healthy food, including racism, poverty, 86. The Food Project, “SNAP & Bounty Bucks Use in Boston Up in 2010,” December 20, 2010, blog/2010/12/20/snap-bounty-bucks-use-boston-2010. The Urban Lifeways Project of Native Movement reconnects Native youth in Arizona with their food and agricultural traditions. Here, Diné youth collect neighborhood food scraps to prepare compost for urban community gardens. BrettRamey
  • 69. 64 lack of community control and representa- tion in local government and organizations, inadequate housing and healthcare, and environmental issues. Community Wisdom, Community Health: People’s Grocery People’s Grocery in California considers itself a “food, health, and wealth” organization. For nearly 10 years, they’ve been building a local food system, improving community health, supporting resident leadership, and providing inspiration for other groups far and wide. The neighborhood of West Oakland which People’s Grocery calls home has long been without a large, full-service grocery store, let alone one that offers healthy, fresh food. With unemployment at about 10 percent and nearly half the population of 30,000 residents living at or below the poverty line,87 West Oakland is a neighborhood that grocery store chains have claimed isn’t able to sustain a full-functioning store.88 But the logic that West Oakland lacks 87. Matthias Kuruvila, “West Oakland Grocery Store Fight Heats Up,” San Francisco Chronicle online, October 11, 2010, http://www. DTL. 88. City of Oakland Community and Economic Development Agency, Agenda Report, July 2007, 2, http://clerkwebsvr1. buying power isn’t sound. Its residents spend almost $42 million a year on food out- side of the West Oakland community.89 “The math is simple,” says People’s Grocery co- founder Brahm Ahmadi. “In West Oakland, we assessed a $60 million market. There’s a very affluent neighborhood nearby with a $60 million market. It’s the same aggregate spending power. You actually have parallel markets. They just look different.”90 It was vital to prove that this was true because, says Brahm, “The number one cause of death in West Oakland is heart disease. It’s not gunshots. It’s food, the way people eat. There’s a correlation between lack of grocery stores and rates of chronic disease. People in West Oakland are see- ing that health-care costs are too high, and a critical mass is growing to say enough is enough.” When individuals are forced to travel outside their community to buy food, it not only incentivizes reliance on the junk food that is available in corner stores, but also plays havoc with the economy, since money continuously flows out of the area instead of building job opportunities and tax revenues locally. People’s Grocery’s flagship project was a mobile market, a mini-grocery store on wheels that traversed neighborhoods selling 89. Brahm Ahmadi, email to authors, May 25, 2011. 90. Christa Hillstrom, “Lentils and Justice for All: It All Begins with Food: How to Restore the Health and Wealth of Inner-city Communities,” Yes! Magazine online, February 14, 2011, http://
  • 70. 65 affordable, healthy food. Another proj- ect, a modified CSA program called the Grub Box, has been growing strong since 2007 and is now a partnership with Dig Deep Farms and Produce. The Grub Box is a pre-ordered, weekly box of vegetables and fruits grown at People’s Grocery’s gardens and at other local farms. People’s Grocery also runs nutri- tion education programs, an urban garden at a low-income housing development, and a buying club where people can order healthy bulk food for wholesale prices. Their Growing Justice Institute supports residents interested in designing and implement- ing food projects and small food service businesses. Meanwhile, Brahm has branched off to develop a new full-line, mid-sized gro- cery store in West Oakland called People’s Community Market. The vision, he says, is “part grocery store, part farmers’ market, part food cooperative.” Its goal is not only providing healthy food but also creating a vibrant space for social events, workshops, cooking classes, and a demonstration gar- den. The grassroots social-enterprise model will promote investment back into the com- munity, both through the income generated and the job training and entrepreneurial skills gained. More than Just Food Just Food in New York City builds food jus- tice by making CSAs, farmers’ markets, and gardens accessible in the city, and by help- ing small farmers survive – and even thrive – in the process. Co-founder Ruth Katz says the group grew out of a contradiction. “In New York City, we had these growing soup- kitchen lines of people who couldn’t get food and, at the same time, nearby farmers going out of business because they couldn’t sell their food anywhere. It seemed strange that you couldn’t match farmers selling food with people needing food.” Just Food connects urban communities interested in bringing CSAs to their neighborhoods with nearby farmers who can truck their goods into the city. They have developed different payment systems to make this food afford- able, including helping CSAs and farmers’ markets accept food stamps. They also work with CSAs to set up financial-aid programs. For example, higher-income members can contribute extra to subsidize other members within their own CSA, or two CSAs from dif- ferent neighborhoods can be paired so that the members in the higher-income neigh- borhood pay higher costs and members in the lower-income neighborhood pay lower costs. “We always fear that everyone will want a lower-priced share, but in fact it’s often the reverse. People are really willing to help out,” says one Just Food staffer. So far, the organization has helped launch 100 CSA programs throughout New York City’s five boroughs, bringing fresh food “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” — Hippocrates
  • 71. 66 Kevin Perry of Grow Dat Youth Farm displays the strawberry harvest for a farmer’s market in New Orleans. EricaStavis,
  • 72. 67 to an estimated 30,000 people. To stock the CSAs, Just Food partners with about 100 farms outside the city, which bring in vegetables, eggs, fruit, grain, meat, and other products. Some formerly struggling rural farmers now have a viable outlet for their goods and make close to a 100 per- cent profit, as opposed to the 20 percent or so they would otherwise make through standard wholesale markets. As a result, a number of farmers have even been able to leave the second jobs they held to supple- ment their farm incomes, or to secure land on which they had a tenuous financial grip. Ruth Katz says, “It can be frustrating because the scale of what we’re doing is so small. People say, ‘You have to scale up to make a bigger impact.’ Well, in this par- ticular case, scaling up would defeat the purpose: farmer-to-consumer relationships that are creative and nimble enough to meet the unique needs of each neighborhood. Their smallness is part of their strength. That being said, we can scale up through replica- tion, rather than super-sizing. “Imagine that every tall building in NYC has a CSA! If one tall building or building complex has 500 families, then only 10 percent would need to become CSA members to support a small farm. And that 10 percent would be a lucky, well-fed group.” Just Food also supports city dwellers as they grow their own food. The group offers a range of workshops including seed starting, raised-bed building, food preservation, season extension, and pest management. Their City Chicken Project trains community- garden groups to build chicken coops. Each group agrees to use its newfound skills to help another group build a coop the following year. Just Food also helps com- munity gardens start farmers’ markets, and currently provides ongoing support to 18 markets in the city. While each market functions independently, Just Food assists with logistics like record-keeping, access- ing supplemental food from rural farmers, and tapping into helpful state and federal programs. Just Food also aims to empower people to change city-, state-, and federal-level food policy. They have created an NYC Food Justice Action Guide, which covers a host of issues such as the city’s climate footprint and local food policies, as well as information on how to organize community campaigns and pressure lawmakers. In 2009, Just Foods convened the NYC Food & Climate Summit, bringing together community members and government leaders for workshops and pol- icy sessions. In 2010, they won their two-year campaign to legalize beekeeping in the city.
  • 73. 68 “It’s Like Dealing with Family” Jay Dines runs Dines Farms in Oak Hill, New York. Jay and his family struggled to keep the farm afloat, but now the operation has a new lease on life as part of a network of farmers’ markets and CSAs who are bringing fresh food to the city. “I got poultry, beef, and pork. The lamb’s not cut up yet. It’s all natural. We’re about to start glat kosher poultry. At Thanksgiving we sold 600 turkeys; that was great! We do our own pro- cessing, and manufacture our own chicken sausages. Our red meat goes to a USDA plant, but we’re going to be buying our own USDA-approved processing plant. “We’re selling primarily retail. We do two CSA’s and a farmers’ market. On Saturday we have two markets in Brooklyn, then drop to a CSA in Queens. This keeps the electric on during the week. It’s madness.” That’s a rugged schedule for a little money. But Jay says he can charge people less than a store would, and “I still take home more because I’ve eliminated three or four people in the process. I can give people what they want, and I’m able to keep it fresh. Nothing I have has preservatives. There’s very little waste.” Jay speaks to us from a CSA in Queens, as he shows people his meats, says hello, and shakes hands. “I don’t have to wait 90 days for my money, and I don’t have a billing department. Here people are happy to pay me. But if they come and they don’t have the money, I tell them to pay me next week. It’s part of the connection of dealing with people on a daily basis. The whole concept is totally different. You’re obligated to the people because they’re obligated to you. They come out to support you rain, shine, whatever. I watch their kids grow up. It’s like dealing with family. And I’ve met so many nice people; you can’t put a price on that. But you got to be willing to yenter a little bit.” 68
  • 74. 69 Breaking Down Racial Barriers: The Black Food Sovereignty Alliance On a fall afternoon in Oakland, California in 2011, more than 50 food justice advocates and grassroots organizers working primarily in Black communities across the country came together for the first Black Food Sovereignty Alliance meeting. Energized by the similarities in their experiences, they discussed the barriers to food access in their communities due to housing and employment discrimination, poverty, and redlining. The Alliance discussed the ways African American communities, and communities of color in general, have often been sidelined within the food movement itself. They have frequently been targeted as ‘intervention’ areas by outside organizations that, though well-meaning, are neither led by, nor accountable to, the community and its most urgent needs and goals. The prevailing white culture of the food movement as a whole creates barriers. As a few examples, the typical image of farmers presented often reflects a white archetype, the types of food solu- tions presented are not always culturally relevant, and inclusion and participation of people of color has come slowly and late. The group also discussed the challenges of the historically pain- ful relationship between African American communities and land, and the fact that oftentimes in communities, employment and basic needs take precedence over longer-term food projects. The Alliance committed to working together to continue discussing these issues and forging a path forward. At the heart of the struggle, organizers declared, is the need for local food sov- ereignty, for the democratic control by communities of color over their own food systems. The Alliance also took time to celebrate examples of success like Mo’ Better Food in Oakland, which connects African American farmers and African American customers through urban markets, and models such as People’s Grocery and Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, which pri- oritize the leadership of communities of color while challenging racism in the food system.
  • 75. 70 By the People, for the People: Food Policy Councils Another way food justice is gaining ground in the U.S. and Canada is through food policy councils. Groups at the town, city, and state level are creating these councils to investigate where their food systems fall short in meeting communities’ needs, and to transform the systems by developing pro- grams and catalyzing policy changes. The groups work on a range of projects such as increasing the amount of local food pur- chased by public institutions like schools, hospitals, and prisons; preserving farmland; and drafting sweeping food charters to guide future food policy. More than 100 such councils now exist in the U.S., with new ones forming all the time.91 No two councils are exactly the same. Some are grassroots efforts while others are com- missioned by local or state governments. Some are run by volunteers and others receive government funding or grants from private foundations. Most are broad alli- ances with city officials, farmers, youth, business owners, and others. The alliances democratize policy-making by encouraging broad participation. In Hartford, Connecticut, after recognizing a correlation between pockets of hunger in 91. Community Food Security Coalition, “What is a Food Policy Council?” North American Food Policy Council webpage, accessed February 22, 2012, the city and inadequate public transporta- tion options, the Food Policy Commission worked with the city to realign bus routes to better connect communities with supermar- kets. The State of Connecticut also has a food policy council, which played a role in banning soda machines in schools, dedicating state funding to protect farmland, and helping farmers’ markets accept food stamps.92 The Community Food Security Coalition runs a national program to support emerging councils, providing one-on-one assistance and hosting bimonthly conference calls and regional meetings. 92. Alethea Harper, et al., “Food Policy Councils: Lessons Learned,” Institute for Food and Development Policy, 2009, 14. A chef teaches about healthy food as part of Georgia Organics’ Farm to School program. The Atlanta-based organization promotes local foods in such ways as helping farmers find new markets and facilitating mentorship programs. courtesyofGeorgiaOrganics
  • 76. 71 Carrots, Cranksets, Community: Montreal’s Santropol Roulant93 In Montreal, Canada, the organization Santropol Roulant uses food as a tool to bridge many divides: social, economic, and generational. Led by young people and powered by volunteers, the group cooks and delivers meals to people who cannot easily leave their homes. The orga- nization prepares about 90 meals a day, five days a week, year-round. Over half the meals are delivered by bike or on foot. In the summer, the group incorporates organic produce from their rooftop garden and feeds cooking scraps into a worm composting system. Their bike fleet is maintained by the group’s community bike shop, where anyone can stop in and use tools or gain skills. Cooking workshops, community meals, and social events draw people together throughout the year. Building relationships across generations is a thread running through all of Santropol Roulant’s work. “The simple experience of delivering meals to seniors can change the way young people see the world,” says Chris Godsall, one of the organization’s found- ers.94 A past oral-history project, Harvesting Histories, interviewed those who received meals and published their stories and reci- pes. “A new set of relationships is forming between unlikely people,” declares the first story in the booklet, “between strangers who touch one another’s lives – and become lifelines.”95 93. Santropol Roulant, “Rapport Annuel/Annual Report 2010,” 2010, Report.pdf. 94. Chris Goodsall, “How Santropol Roulant Came to Be,” accessed April 12, 2012, 95. Vanessa Reid, “Extending Families,” Harvesting Histories, 2004-2005, A volunteer with Santropol Roulant. courtestyofSantropolRoulant
  • 77. 72 Belo Horizonte: Committed to a City Well Fed The city of Belo Horizonte in Brazil is tak- ing responsibility for ensuring every one of its residents is fed, and with fresh, locally grown food. With a population of 2.4 mil- lion, the city asserts its citizens’ rights to “adequate quantity and quality of food” and “the duty of governments to guarantee this right.”96 In 1993, the city government cre- ated an agency to design and coordinate a host of food programs that would nourish both its people and the livelihoods of nearby farmers. “There is a pervasive attitude that this is not the role of the state, and we challenge this. Why isn’t this the role of the state?” says Adriana Aranha, a former Hunger Program director in Belo Horizonte who now works for the national governmental Zero Hunger program. “Because the state is saving banks, constructing highways, why not save lives through food? Why can’t we be investing in the population as a basic right, not as a donation? It can’t be treated as a dona- tion, it has to be a guaranteed basic right, ongoing.”97 96. Rocha, Cecilia, “Urban Food Security Policy: The Case of Belo Horizonte, Brazil,” Journal for the Study of Food and Society, Vol. 5, No. 1, Summer 2001, 36-47. 97. “Adriana Aranha,” transcript of interview for Silent Killer: The Unfinished Campaign Against Hunger, produced by Hana Jindrova and John de Graaf, in association with KCTS-TV, 2005, http://www. One of the Belo Horizonte’s initiatives is six cafeteria-style ‘People’s Restaurants,’ which serve approximately 20,000 subsidized meals per day. The meals are available to anyone for the equivalent of just over U.S. $1.98 The city buys food from local farmers to supply these restaurants and more than 170,000 daily school lunches.99 Each week, the city also assembles subsidized baskets containing about 20 basic food items, and distrib- utes them to more than 4,000 low-income families.”100 These programs help provide a steady market on which local farmers can rely. The city also runs 34 heavily trafficked, low-cost markets in which farmers can participate as long as they sell 20 predeter- mined items at a below-market rate. Belo Horizonte, in addition, promotes urban agriculture by planting community and school gardens and orchards and hosting workshops. The government distributes information about food and nutrition city- wide, and performs educational-theater pieces in schools. To address the immediate threat of mal- nutrition, the city provides infants and children with food made partially from local ingredients, such as a nutrient-dense flour containing eggshells and cassava leaves. 98. Flavio Duffles, PowerPoint presentation, Community Food Security Coalition Annual Conference, October 2010. 99. Ibid. 100. Rocha, Cecilia, “Urban Food Security Policy: The Case of Belo Horizonte, Brazil,” Journal for the Study of Food and Society, Vol. 5, No. 1, Summer 2001, 36-47.
  • 78. 73 Belo Horizonte spends approximately $26 million annually to run the program.101 Since its inception, the infant mortality rate, which is often used as an indicator of hun- ger, has decreased by 41 percent.102 Says Adriana, “My experiences here in Belo Horizonte proved to me that if all of us who were indignant about this situation worked together, we could end hunger.”103 101. Flavio Duffles, PowerPoint presentation, Community Food Security Coalition Annual Conference, October 2010. 102. “Adriana Aranha,” transcript of interview for Silent Killer: The Unfinished Campaign Against Hunger, produced by Hana Jindrova and John de Graaf, in association with KCTS-TV, 2005, 103. Ibid.
  • 79. 74 “Honor the hands that harvest your crops,” said the farmworker rights leader Dolores Huerta. Among the movements that have been shak- ing up the way things have long been done in the U.S., few have been more dramatic than that led by one of the most exploited sectors of the country: farmworkers, the more than one million men and women – mainly from Mexican, Central American, and West Indian villages – who work in fields and orchards. For decades they have been organizing, building awareness, and mobiliz- ing the public. Together with food workers in processing factories, warehouses, grocery stores, cafeterias, and restaurants, they have been winning victories for rights, higher wages, and better working conditions. Melody Gonzales, a former organizer with the Student/Farmworker Alliance, captured the growing power of food workers in general when she discussed farmworkers who had united through the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). “CIW’s approach is that the workers themselves lead, and they attack the roots of the problem – not just the different consequences, putting a band-aid on them. You can pass laws, you can have enforcement codes. But unless the workers are in a position of leadership where they decide what the problems are and what they think the solutions are, you’re not going to be able to impact systemic, long-lasting change. It comes down to the power of those most affected to say what their human rights are, what they want, what they need, what they deserve.”  .  Honor  the  Hands:   Food  Worker  Justice 74 “When the sun rises, I go to work. When the sun goes down I take my rest, I dig the well from which I drink, I farm the soil which yields my food, I share creation, Kings can do no more.” — Chinese Proverb
  • 80. 75 The United Farm Workers (UFW), founded in 1966 by Dolores Huerta, César Chávez, and others, launched the modern-day farmworker movement. They brought their struggles to national attention by leading a boycott against grape growers. Consumers around the country banished grapes from their grocery lists, forcing growers to raise wages and to improve labor condi- tions. Since then, farmworkers have used work stoppages, hunger strikes, marches, union negotiations, and boycotts to win substantial improvements. No longer is it commonplace for crew leaders – those who round up workers and manage the crew – to beat workers, for example, or for farms to aerially spray pesticides in fields while peo- ple are working in them. Despite these significant advances, farm- workers are still afforded inadequate rights both on the books and in practice. They per- form strenuous physical labor without the protections of sick leave, overtime pay, or health insurance. They are exempt from the National Labor Relations Act that protects workers’ rights to form unions and bargain collectively. If farmworkers try to organize or if they anger their bosses, they can be fired with absolutely no legal recourse. More than half are estimated to be undocumented,104 and live under the constant threat of deportation if they try to stand up for bet- 104. William Kandel, “Profile of Hired Farmworkers, A 2008 Update,” (Economic Research Report No. 60, U.S. Department of Agriculture, July, 2008), 38, err60.pdf. ter conditions.105 They may also be unable to demand their rights because they don’t speak English, or are unaware of what rights they do have.106 Like racism, xenophobia is rampant. The minimum wage didn’t even apply to farmworkers until 1966, long after most pro- fessions were covered. And today, despite the law, there are so many ways to exploit their work that many don’t in actuality make minimum wage. Farmworkers are twice as likely as other workers to live below the poverty line, and most earn an average of $10,000 to $12,000 per year.107 These low wages are the result of cost-saving endeavors of corporate players along the food supply chain. The monumental profits of the fast-food industry, for example, come in part from companies’ ability to buy their ingredients cheaply. Company buyers – in an industry with estimated sales of $167.7 105. U.S. Department of Labor, “A Demographic and Employment Profile of United States Farm Workers,” Research Report No. 9, March 2005, 3, rpt9.pdf. According to a National Agricultural Workers Survey from 2000-2001, 53% of the farmworkers in the U.S. are undocumented. However, because these statistics rely on self-reporting, some people think the number is actually much higher. Rob Williams, the director of the Migrant Farmworker Justice Project, estimates that over 90% are undocumented. See: The Economist, “Field of Tears: They Came to America Illegally, for the Best of Reasons,” online, December 16, 2010, 106. Ibid. 81% of farmworkers speak Spanish as a native language, according to the National Agricultural Workers Survey. 107. Coalition of Immokalee Workers, “Facts and Figures on Florida Farmworkers,” 1, accessed April 12, 2012, www.ciw-online. org/Resources/10FactsFigures.pdf.
  • 81. 76 billion in 2011 – use their power to pay the lowest prices possible to growers and food processors. Growers and processors, in turn, pay the lowest wages they can for field and factory work. Those suppressed wages go hand in hand with suppressing rights, so that workers don’t have the power to organize for better pay. Farmworkers are also subject to inhumane working and living conditions. In the worst instances, they have been victims of slav- ery. Since 1997, in Florida alone, the federal government has won seven criminal prosecu- tions for farmworker slavery involving more than 1,000 workers; in the last two years, the state has initiated two more prosecutions. Workers have been kept under armed guard, locked up at night, forced to work, denied the right to speak to people off the farm, and beaten if they attempt to escape. Many farmworkers are living the boomer- ang of globalization, forced to emigrate in search of work because the agricultural systems in their home countries have been destroyed by policies of the U.S. and inter- national trade and financial institutions. One farm advocacy group noted, “U.S. agri- culture policy has thus created a de facto immigration policy.”108 Making History in Florida: Power, Plus a Penny a Pound For most U.S. tomato pickers, a bucket of toma- toes brings in 50 cents, a piece rate that has remained virtually unchanged for more than 30 years. Because the rate is set so low, a worker has to pick more than two and a quarter tons of tomatoes per day – the weight of a young elephant – to make the minimum wage.109 Until 2005, no restaurant or grocery chain had ever taken responsibility for the fact that their profits played a role in creat- ing such deplorable conditions and wages. When gross mistreatment of workers peri- odically made its way into the public eye, if anyone at all took the rap, it was the crew leader. Corporations reaping the profits 108. Patty Kupfer, David Waskow, and Kasey Butler, “Reaping the Seeds We Sow: U.S. Farm Policy and the Immigration Debate,” Building Sustainable Futures for Farmers Globally, 1. 109. Coalition of Immokalee Workers, “Facts and Figures on Florida Farmworkers,” 2, accessed April 12, 2012, www.ciw-online. org/Resources/10FactsFigures.pdf. “I have a dream. Many people have dreams. But if we don’t come together, we’ll never be able to realize any of them.” — Maria Martinez Barrera, Florida Farmworkers’ Association
  • 82. 77 remained untouched. In this way, the system had been protected against any real change. CIW, a group of tomato pickers in Immo- kalee, Florida, is changing all of this. In 2005, after a four-year boycott against Taco Bell, CIW won its first major victory when Taco Bell’s parent corporation, Yum! Brands, agreed to pay a penny more per pound for their tomatoes. At the time, this seemingly small increase nearly doubled the wages of workers. “Labor is such a small percentage of the overall cost of getting food out from the field to the table,” says Greg Asbed, co- founder of CIW, “farm labor wages could be increased 100 percent and the consumer wouldn’t even notice the difference. We call it the ‘reverse princess and the pea principle’ Picking tomatoes in Immokalee, Florida, home of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. CourtesyofCoalitionofImmokaleeWorkers
  • 83. 78 – a huge change can be felt at the bottom of the food industry with an imperceptible change at the top.”110 Two years after the agreement with Taco Bell, Yum! Brands extended the same condi- tions to its other subsidiaries: KFC, Pizza Hut, Long John Silver’s, and A&W. Since this suc- cess, the farmworkers and their allies have compelled the fast-food companies Burger King, McDonald’s, and Subway; the natu- ral grocery-store giants Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s; and the food-service companies Bon Appetit, Compass Group, Aramark, and Sodexo, to sign similar agreements. In 2012, the coalition won a commitment from the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange - which includes 90 percent of the state’s tomato growers - to pay a penny per pound more to their workers. Now, when workers pick tomatoes for buyers who have signed on, they earn an average of 82 cents per bucket, versus the 50 cents average for other buyers.111 Beyond increasing wages, the contracts require companies to buy from suppliers that follow a code of conduct for their treatment of workers. In each of these agreements, CIW actively participates in upholding the code of conduct, monitoring and reporting conditions at farms. Currently, CIW’s spotlight is on giant grocery stores like Publix, Kroger, and Walmart. 110. Greg Asbed, email to the authors, August 30, 2011. 111. Laura Germino, email to the authors, August 11, 2011. Laura Germino coordinates the Anti-Slavery Campaign for the Florida-based Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). In addition to a national boycott and years of dialogue with fast-food chains and the Florida growers’ association, the coalition has led three general strikes, a month-long hunger strike, and a march across half of Florida. They have been brilliant in strategy, timing, and coalition-building, conveying their messages of justice and ethics in ways that have captured the hearts and minds of the public. CIW members hope that soon all tomato pickers throughout the country will have greater rights and wages, and then pickers of all produce, until an industry-wide standard is created. Melody Gonzales says, “Yes, pesticides are a big problem, health care is too, but at the root of this is the imbalance of power. The challenge is to create and enforce standards for workers that don’t depend on the lar- gesse of particular growers.” The coalition is also determined to expose and end instances of modern-day slavery amongst farmworkers. They’re assisting in federal prosecutions, investigating suspected “The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.” — César Chávez, co-founder, United Farm Workers
  • 84. 79 cases, and organizing worker-to-worker counseling. In 2010, together with allies from the Student-Farmworker Alliance, Interfaith Action, and Just Harvest USA, they created the traveling Florida Modern-Day Slavery Museum out of a cargo truck similar to one in which workers had been locked and kept in slavery two years prior. The United Farm Workers continues its work with a membership of approximately 27,000. In 2011, they won 10 labor contracts, covering 1,150 workers.112 Also that year, after many months of organizing, including a 200-mile, 13-day march through the Central Valley, the union pushed through legislation in California to protect workers from employer intimidation during union votes. The Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) is another significant player in the movement. Started in 1967, FLOC has been winning greater power, rights, and working conditions for many thousands of cucumber pickers through successful boycotts and strikes aimed at Campbell’s, Heinz, and Mount Olive Pickle Company. FLOC also works in Mexico, holding workshops for those headed to the U.S. for temporary agricultural work. They prepare soon-to-be workers with information about their rights and about union campaigns taking place in the U.S., in the hopes of minimizing their vulnerability to exploitation before it even starts. 112. Arturo S. Rodriguez, “President’s Message,” United Farm Workers, December 15, 2011, php?mode=view&b_code=org_pre&b_no=11604&page=1&field=&key=&n=75.
  • 85. 80 Writing in the Notebook of Destiny Gerardo Reyes113 Gerardo Reyes is an organizer with CIW. Paulo Coelho said, ‘The world lies in the hands of those who have the courage to dream and who take the risk of living out their dreams.’ Our dream is that we no longer be considered second- or third-class citizens, tools which can just be thrown away after they are used. We dream of receiving the respect that human beings merit. We dream of the possibility to maintain our families with dignity, and to offer them the future that has been denied us for so long. We’re taking steps on the road that will open doors to workers in many industries, where the economic power of a few does not determine how a person will live his or her life, where money doesn’t determine if a person has more or less worth. Our dream will be realized when all of the big corporations who buy tomatoes sit at the table with us to establish codes of conduct that respect the farmworkers and the pay that is just for our work. When we have a just agriculture system, one that doesn’t step on the rights of the workers, where they are recognized as one of the most important parts of the industry. For the consumers, we hope to see a day in which, when one says ‘farmworker,’ the word won’t be associated with powerlessness, voicelessness, inability to define one’s own destiny. Our dream is that when consumers think of who farmworkers are, they understand that we have taken up our pens to write our own history. We will continue dreaming and we will continue working together to realize our dreams. We have the notebook of destiny in our hands, and we’re writing it today. 113. Gerardo Reyes, Interview with Beverly Bell. 80
  • 86. 81 From Field to Table: Workers’ Rights Throughout the Food Supply Chain Food chain workers are educating and acti- vating consumers so that they can align their principles with the food they purchase. As Greg Asbed of the CIW says, “The trick lies, first of all, in combating the billions that are spent against any kind of meaningful consumer thought. And, second of all, in combating the natural instinct of the con- sumer to be self-oriented. Consciousness is the first necessary component for change. That’s what will create new consumer deci- sions. And those new consumer decisions will force corporations at the public end of the industry to change their decisions. And those corporations are so powerful that when they start changing decisions, the sup- ply chain beneath them changes too.” The Food Chain Workers Alliance, which began in 2009, is an initiative whose goal is nothing less than full rights and fair wages for the 20 million workers who grow, harvest, process, pack, ship, cook, serve, and sell food in the U.S.114 The Alliance brings together 11 organizations representing workers from industries throughout the food supply chain. It is educating the public, organizing worker exchanges, pushing for policy changes, and advocating to make workers’ rights a part of food labeling and certification efforts. The Alliance also draws attention to the ways in which institutional racism in the U.S. and around the world has produced a food system reliant on the exploitation of immi- grants and people of color. The Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) is one of the founding members of the Alliance. Started in New York City, the orga- nization’s original aim was to help find new jobs for workers who had been employed at Windows on the World, the restaurant on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center that collapsed on September 11, 2001. This mission quickly expanded into changing working conditions throughout the entire restaurant industry. In 2008, a national office, ROC United, was launched, which has 114. Food Chain Workers Alliance, “Mission,” accessed February 22, 2012, “Our society takes away the dignity of preparing and cooking food when it’s done for work. It should be dignified, the process of nourishing and feeding people.” — Kyle Schafer, Organizer, UNITE HERE
  • 87. 82 since helped replicate the ROC NY model in seven other places: Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Southeast Michigan, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. “The restaurant industry at this point is the largest private sector employer in the U.S.,” says Jose Oliva, ROC’s National Policy Coordinator. “It is in the position of creat- ing the conditions, setting the tone, setting the standard, for the entire sector, not just the service sector which has now become the core of our new economy, but for the entire private sector.” If food workers could exercise their power, adds Jose, they could improve not only their own working con- ditions but also other aspects of the food system, from environmental impacts and ani- mal rights to food quality for consumers. ROC has won numerous campaigns against unjust restaurants and published in-depth reports about working conditions, racism, and sexism in the industry.115 They are lead- ing a charge to raise the federal minimum wage for tipped workers, which has been frozen at $2.13 for over 20 years. The orga- nization’s latest campaign focuses on the 115. Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, “Workplace Justice,” accessed February 22, 2012, work/workplace-justice/; and Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, “Our Reports,” accessed February 22, 2012, http:// The head chef at a restaurant in Hollywood. This photo was part of the Restaurant Opportunities Center’s (ROC) photo exhibit, “107 Stories: Through Restaurant Workers’ Eyes.” With over 8,000 members, ROC is leading the growing movement for fair wages and rights for restaurant workers throughout the country. ©KelleeMatsushita,BraveNewSeedPhotography.
  • 88. 83 world’s largest full-service restaurant group, Darden, which owns Capital Grille, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, and others. In 2012, ROC filed a lawsuit against the company for racial discrimination and wage theft. Some other compelling initiatives for food- workers’ rights include: • Across college and university campuses, dining workers are demanding better wages and working conditions. The union UNITE HERE is leading the Real Food Real Jobs campaign on more than 100 campuses in the U.S. and Canada. By building bridges of solidarity with stu- dents and faculty, food-service workers are adding strength to their campaigns and winning better contracts. As Kyle Schafer, a lead organizer for UNITE HERE, shares, “Many students and faculty see the workers in the cafeteria every day, but yet there’s this divide. The official university community generally doesn’t include the campus dining workers. That’s something that we fundamen- tally want to change... to really have the workers’ struggle be the community’s struggle.” • ·The organization Just Harvest USA aims for all local and healthy food to also be justly picked food. It focuses specifically on bridging the gap between the sustain- able food movement and the farmworker rights movement. It is reaching out to all those concerned about good local and healthy food – food co-ops, CSAs, farmers’ markets, organic producers and consumers, and natural health food stores – to bring forward the piece most often missing from the sustainability equation: labor wages and conditions for farmworkers. Just Harvest USA does extensive education such as learning del- egations to Immokalee, and spearheads campaigns together with CIW and other farmworker rights groups, like the recent victorious one at Trader Joe’s. • A new certification, called Magen Tzedek or Seal of Justice, is now available to kosher producers that meet criteria regarding workers’ rights, environmen- tal impact, and animal welfare.116 Kosher foods refer to those sanctioned by Jewish law determining how foods are prepared and processed. In 2006, after 116. For more information on Magen Tzedek, visit www. After a 5-year underground campaign, Georgetown University’s dining hall workers won a union contract in 2011. This photo is from their first community meeting, when they were just beginning to organize. Ja-ReiWang
  • 89. 84 Seona Ngufor, originally from Cameroon, grows vegetables in Massachusetts for the World PEAS CSA. A few years ago she went through the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project’s training program, and now farms on New Entry-managed land. courtesyofNewEntrySustainableFarmingProject 84
  • 90. 85 a report that the nation’s largest kosher meatpacker, Agriprocessors Inc., was violating workers’ rights, Jewish leaders began creating the new certification. ”As concerned as we are about how an animal gets killed, we need to be equally concerned about how a worker lives,” says Rabbi Morris Allen, a leader in the certification effort.117 The kosher food industry has sales of $11.5 billion annu- ally, so a shift in practices could have widespread ramifications on the entire food supply chain in the U.S.118 • People are challenging the organic industry to step up to a higher standard in respecting workers’ rights. Organic certification in the U.S. is regulated by the USDA and currently does not address labor rights. Organizations like the Agricultural Justice Project (AJP) are cre- ating domestic fair-trade labels. In order to earn AJP’s Food Justice Certified stamp of approval, companies and farms must align themselves with standards regarding fair wages, freedom of associ- ation, workplace health and safety, and farmworker housing. Other groups like the Domestic Fair Trade Association and 117. Samuel G Freedman, “Rabbi’s Campaign for Kosher Standards Expands to Include Call for Social Justice,” New York Times online, May 19, 2007, us/19religion.html?pagewanted=all. 118. Samuel G Freedman, “Rabbi’s Campaign for Kosher Standards Expands to Include Call for Social Justice,” New York Times online, May 19, 2007, html. the Organic Consumer Association’s Fair World Project are playing a monitoring role, making sure certification programs uphold the standards that they profess. • Programs are helping immigrant farm- workers start up their own operations. Many of those who participate have agricultural experience but lack the funds to buy or rent land and are unfa- miliar with U.S. markets. These programs provide access to training, loans, and equipment. They offer small pieces of land, ‘incubator farms,’ on which immigrants can start their businesses. In Monterey County, California, the nonprofit organization Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) holds a six-month course on the ins and outs of running an organic farm, after which graduates can lease plots of land for just 10 percent of the market rate. The New Entry Sustainable Farming Project in Massachusetts has graduated over 60 new farmers from their training course, primarily Hmong, Khmer, African, and Latino immigrants. After completing the course, farmers can lease up to an acre of land and access a wide range of technical assistance.
  • 91. 86 7.  lnherit  the  Earth:  Land  Reform “Pardon me, if when I want to tell the story of my life it’s the land I talk about. This is the land. It grows in your blood and you grow. If it dies in your blood you die out.” — Pablo Neruda “Land to the Tillers!” was Via Campesina’s call this spring to its members and allies around the world. The coalition dedicated April 17th – the annual International Day of Peasant Struggle – to popular resistance against land-grabbing. As a key variable in who has control and who doesn’t, battles over land have been fought from time immemorial. One of the earliest may have been led by Adam and Eve as they attempted to reclaim their garden after having been evicted. Long before the Crusades, through centuries of colonization, to the oil-motivated wars of the present day, land has been the currency of religious, imperial, and national power. Land and development experts Shalmali Guttal, Maria Luisa Mendonça, and Peter Rosset write, “Fair and equitable access to land and other resources like water, forests, and biodiversity is perhaps the most funda- mental prerequisite for… a decent standard of living and… ecologically sustainable man- agement of natural resources.”119 Today, however, land access remains largely unfair and inequitable. Never has such a high percentage of the world’s population been displaced from their indigenous or ancestral lands and left without land, a secure home, or the ability to feed themselves. Farmers have long been made landless by economic and political forces within their own countries, as well as those from far reaches of the globe. Spikes in food prices over recent years have triggered the latest wave of international land grabs.“ Some governments are buying up land hoping to bolster their home country’s food supply, while corporations are positioning them- selves to make a profit on future food crises. 119. Shalmali Guttal, Maria Luisa Mendonça, and Peter Rosset, “Preface: A History and Overview of the Land Research Action Network,” in Promised Land: Competing Visions of Agrarian Reform, Peter Rosset, Michael Courville, and Raj Patel, eds. (Food First Books, Institute for Food and Development Policy, 2006), 1. 86
  • 92. 87 Investment firms (private equity, hedge, and pension funds) are snapping up agricultural land, speculating that they will be able to turn a profit for their investors.120 An esti- mated 50 to 80 million hectares of land have been a part of international investment deals in recent years – approximately two- thirds of them in Africa.121 Farmers around the world have been driven to despair over their loss of land, over- whelming debt, and inability to continue 120. GRAIN, “Seized: The 2008 landgrab for food and financial security,” October 24, 2008, entries/93- seized-the-2008-landgrab-for-food-and-financial-security. 121. Committee on World Food Security, “Land Tenure and International Investments in Agriculture: A Report by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition,” July 2011, 9. farming, many thousands to the point of suicide. It is estimated that in India alone, as many as 250,000 farmers have committed suicide in the last 16 years.122 This averages 122. Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, Every Thirty Minutes: Farmer Suicides, Human Rights, and the Agrarian Crisis in India (New York: NYU School of Law, 2011), 1. When farmers from the group Heads Together Small Producers of Haiti in the village of Piatre organized to reclaim their land, the local landed elite hired goons who killed 11 in one day in 1990. In 1987 in Jean-Rabel, landowners massacred 139 members of the land reform movement and their children. In both places, as throughout Haiti, peasants continue to demand ownership of land they have lived on and worked since they were enslaved. Here, some survivors of the Piatre massacre and their offspring. ©Roberto(Bear)Guerra “This land is your land and this land is my land, sure, but the world is run by those that never listen to music anyway.” — Bob Dylan
  • 93. 88 out to one farmer in India taking his or her life every 30 minutes.123 There are other responses, too, fierce ones of opposition. As they have throughout history, farmers are engaging in land rec- lamations and movements for land reform – either seizing unfairly owned or consoli- dated land, or winning laws that mandate redistribution.124 In the 1950s and 1960s, struggles for land reform throughout the global South had some success. But that progress slowed in the 1970s and 1980s as economic policies, development ideology, and military crackdowns squelched gov- ernment-reform advances and the popular movements that drove them.125 Though relatively little land has been redistributed in recent years, the voice and visibility of land reform movements are increasing. They are developing in size, strength, and organization, uniting across 123. Ibid. 124. Unfortunately, despite advances in policy, concrete changes in practice have been fewer and farther between. Sometimes, administrative dysfunction and the lack of government commitment to resolve it have been impediments. Other times, large landowners and multinational corporations have pushed back and governments have given in to their demands, failing to implement the laws. In many cases, paid goons or paramilitaries backed by governments or corporations have attacked, arrested, disappeared, or killed those trying to claim their rightful lands. 125. Michael Courville and Raj Patel, “Introduction and Overview: The Resurgence of Agrarian Reform in the Twenty- first Century,” in Promised Land: Competing Visions of Agrarian Reform, Peter Rosset, Michael Courville and Raj Patel, eds. (Food First Books, Institute for Food and Development Policy, 2006), borders to break the nexus between land, agriculture, power, and profit. As just a few indicators: More than 500 organiza- tions worldwide are supporting the Dakar Appeal Against Land Grabbing, which calls upon governments to immediately cease land grabs and return stolen land to com- munities.126 In late 2011, more than 250 representatives of farmers’ organizations and allies gathered in Mali for the first inter- national farmers’ conference to address land grabbing. That year, major demonstrations in India – against corporate seizure of land for construction of a steel plant in the state of Orissa – and in China – against seizure of land for a housing development in the Guangdong province – made international headlines. In the U.S., organizations such as GRAIN are working to inform people that they may be investing their retirement savings in funds like TIAA-CREF, a finan- cial-services organization that effectively finances land grabs.127 The increasing rates of foreclosure and dispossession in urban areas in the global North are solidifying the con- nections across borders and hemispheres. 126. Food First, “G20-Agriculture: Hundreds of organizations say STOP farm land grabbing,” June 20, 2011, http://www.foodfirst. org/en/land+grabs. 127. GRAIN, “Pension Funds: Key Players in the Global Farmland Grab,” June 20, 2011, pension-funds-key-players-in-the-global-farmland-grab.
  • 94. 89 The Landless Workers Movement Brazil has one of the world’s highest levels of unequal land distribution, which profoundly impacts the one in seven people who live in rural areas.128 Fifty-six percent of agricultural land is owned by just 3.5 percent of land- owners.129 In 2000, multinational companies controlled roughly 50 to 90 percent of most 128. Sérgio Sauer, “The World Bank’s Market Based Land Reform in Brazil,” in Promised Land: Competing Visions of Agrarian Reform, Peter Rosset, Michael Courville, and Raj Patel, eds. (Food First Books, Institute for Food and Development Policy, 2006),177- 178. Rural population statistic is from: World Bank, “Indicators by Country,” Agriculture and Rural Development Data, accessed September 20, 2012, and-rural-development. 129. Fabíola Ortiz, “Brazil at Risk of Agrarian Counter-Reform,” Inter Press Service website, April 27, 2011, news.asp?idnews=55414. premier export crops in Brazil.130 Unable to compete, an estimated 90,000 small and family farms disappear each year.131 Brazil’s powerful land reform movement has roots in the 1800s, a response to unequal land distribution that began more than 500 years ago with the arrival of European colonists. Since the 1980s, rural and landless people’s organizations have won large-scale redistribution. One of the leaders of this work – not just in Brazil, but around the world – has been the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST by its Portuguese acronym). The MST struggles for land and tenure rights for the 4.5 million Brazilians who have none. Its solution to ending the country’s poverty and hunger is to put agriculturally rich land back into the hands of small farmers. It does this by organizing landless and unemployed 130. Sue Branford and Jan Rocha, Cutting the Wire: The Story of the Landless Movement in Brazil (London: Latin American Bureau, 2002), 175. Brazil has become one of the premier exporters of agricultural products, in particular soy and transgenic corn. By 1999, when Monsanto purchased Brazil’s largest corn seed company, 43 percent of Brazil’s agricultural exports were controlled by 17 international corporations. Branford and Rocha, 2002, 176-178. By 1999, multinationals controlled 90 percent of the hybrid corn seed market, with Monsanto alone controlling 60 percent. These and other mega-businesses placed Brazil seventh globally in agricultural exports – US$15 billion worth of them. 131. Miriam Nobre, “Quand la libération des femmes rencontre la libération des semences” [“When the liberation of women meets the liberation of seeds”], La Découverte, September-October, 2005, Thousands of families have been violently displaced from their lands throughout Colombia. Several hundred families who returned to their land formed the San Jose de Apartadó Community in 1997 and declared it a zone of peace. Here Brigida, a founding community member, shows her painting of Unión, a village where the community has established an agricultural research center. One community member says, “Each plant that we sow is like that force of hope and of life that we keep having in spite of the attacks.” CharlotteKeslPhotography/PBI,
  • 95. 90 “Before, the line had been: ‘No need to worry, you’ll have your land in heaven.’ Now it was: ‘Since you’ve already got your land in heaven, let’s struggle for it here as well.’” — João Pedro Stedile, national co-coordinator of Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST)132 people to legally claim swaths of the nation’s vast unused land. In Brazil, people can challenge ownership of land over a certain size in two ways: by going after the title’s authenticity or by claiming that the land is not fulfilling its ‘social function.’ Codified in the country’s l988 constitution, social function means that 80 percent of the land is used effectively, environmental and labor standards are respected, and both owners and workers benefit. MST’s land claims work this way: the orga- nization researches large landholdings that meet the legal criteria for redistribution. When such a landholding is found, word goes out, and interested families – often 132. João Pedro Stedile, “Landless Batallions: The Sem Terra Movement of Brazil,” New Left Review online, May-June 2002, totaling up to 100 – take up residence there. They wait it out in tents, while back in São Paulo, MST lawyers battle with the courts to gain collective title to the property. If the MST loses, those in the camp move to another plot of land and, together with the lawyers, start over. On average, a fam- ily may wait in their tent for two to five years, although it can sometimes take much longer. If the court orders the tract redistrib- uted, settlers may not sell or buy it, but can remain on the plot for the benefit of them- selves and future generations, provided they fulfill certain conditions.133 Since the mid-1980s, the MST has won title to 7.5 million hectares of land, on which 370,000 families now live.134 An additional 150,000 families live in approximately 900 squatter communities on land that is being contested.135 In the settlements, the newly landed communities engage in collective agricultural production and develop sustain- able farming methods. They have their own education systems, resolve conflicts using restorative justice, and develop their own media and cultural empowerment programs. They also run experiments in participatory democracy, equitable social relations, and self-governance. 133. These include that the family be Brazilian, low-income or property-less, live on the land, and produce agriculture for self- sustenance, through its own (not hired) labor. 134. “What is MST,” Friends of the MST website, accessed February 22, 2012, 135. Ibid.
  • 96. 91 The MST is united with other Brazilian social movements in trying to address the root causes of the problem, which reside in unequal distribution of power and wealth. Without deep structural change and cre- ation of a more just and equitable nation, the movement asserts, any land reform made will simply revert back to the status quo. As Joice Lopes from a land reform com- munity in the state of São Paulo describes it, “What agrarian reform really implies is three things: redistribution of land; social, political, and economic transformation; and the redis- tribution of wealth and income.” Of course, much work remains, yet the MST shows that solutions to landlessness, home- lessness, and social exclusion are available, even without an overhaul of the Brazilian state or political economy. The MST has cre- ated living, breathing examples of these solutions thousands of times over. Before, No one Took Notice: Women, Land Reform, and Power in Brazil “Who suffers the most from not having a house, not having land?” asks Neneide Eliane, an organizer with Deciding to Win, one of many Brazilian groups dedicated to obtaining rights, benefits, and power for rural and landless women. “It’s the women, because they take care of the children, they are responsible for getting food.” An organized women’s movement evolved in Brazil in the 1970s, aiming not only for women’s rights but also for an end to the dictatorship. A decade later, a rural women’s movement was born to address the specific inequities they faced. “We didn’t have all this discussion about gender when we first entered the land dispute,” Neneide says. “Back in the early days, most women on land reform settlements didn’t have a vote. It wasn’t until after you’d been part of the movement that you realized you’d had an invisible role.” The newly organized rural women’s move- ment had two key demands: that they be incorporated into rural unions (until then, typically only one person per household, a man, was a member), and that they receive benefits such as retirement and paid mater- nity leave. They won both, at least on paper. The 1985 congress of the National “My dream of real agrarian reform throughout the land is for no child to go hungry, for no mother to shed tears because her son was murdered trying to steal a piece of bread.” — Ilda Martins de Souza, mem- ber of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST)
  • 97. 92 Confederation of Agricultural Workers com- mitted itself to women’s participation and instructed local unions to do the same. And the 1988 Brazilian constitution enshrined that “titles of ownership and use should be granted in the name of men, women, or both, independent of their marital status.” This made women eligible for the first time to gain land rights and be beneficiaries of land reform – directly, not as dependents of their husbands. The constitution also accorded women new labor rights includ- ing unemployment and disability insurance, retirement benefits, and maternity leave. Still, more than 20 years after the consti- tutional victories, rural Brazilian women’s land rights are not much better than those of their counterparts throughout Latin America. In the 1990s, women accounted for only 12.6 percent of all beneficiaries of land redistribution, and they received on aver- age 38 percent of the revenue of their male counterparts. More than 5 million women farmers receive no salary at all, and about 3.6 million more receive only a symbolic income.136 Though women are better represented in the leadership of most Brazilian land 136. Carmen Diana Deere and Magdalena León, “Toward a Gendered Analysis of the Brazilian Agrarian Reform,” Latin American Studies Consortium of New England, Occasional Paper No. 16, April 1999, 1. Miriam Nobre, “Quand la libération des femmes rencontre la libération des semences” [“When the Liberation of Women Meets the Liberation of Seeds”], Mouvements No. 41, 2005/4, 2-3. struggles than in earlier decades, leadership is still not equitable. In the MST, for example, women reported that for a long time, the group was so focused on unity among its members that it ploughed underground the need to specifically address gender. Some landless women were handed the age-old line that their problems would be resolved when rural workers as a whole won justice. In 1995, women joined together to form the National Collective of MST Women. Thanks to their work, the MST began to make changes. At the national congress in 2002, the MST identified a firm redress of gender inequality, including the expansion of wom- en’s participation and leadership within the movement, as one of its two political goals for the next five years. ‘Gender’ has become an official department of the MST, with a range of programs and policies. Department priorities include an end to gender-based violence, access to free birth control, pro- motion of women’s micro-enterprises and cooperatives, the establishment of childcare centers, and help for women in gaining A meeting in an MST encampment where residents are trying to win title of their land.
  • 98. 93 social benefits from the state. Gender analy- sis is now a formal part of the MST’s training, and of the pair of leaders that is elected to coordinate each local, regional, and national committee, one must be a woman. The MST women could not have made their strides without Brazil’s larger women’s movement. Questions of land, benefits, equitable income, and more just distribution of labor have advanced thanks to promotion by other rural women’s organizations. Their advances in addressing violence by men, the right to contraception, and the right to education have been aided by the work of urban feminist groups. We Don’t Have Life without Land: Holding Ground in Honduras A guard stands watch, waving known and trusted faces down a dusty dirt road. At the end of the road is the community of Lempira, where this season’s corn planting, along with homes made of branches and blue tarps, rise up between long rows of African oil palms. This community is being built in the middle of one of the plantations that are now so common in this region since wealthy landowners bought up the area in order to expand the African palm industry and feed the global craze for biofuel. The residents of Lempira, who began occupying this land two years ago, are part of a wider movement in the Bajo Aguán region of Honduras. A historic land struggle is taking place. Small-farmer cooperatives and their members – over 3,000 families altogether – are reclaiming tracts of land now controlled either by the elite or the government. The cooperatives have estab- lished six settlements, including Lempira, where they are working towards their long- term vision of food sovereignty, liberatory education systems, collectively run media, cooperative businesses, and strong commu- nity. Consuelo Castillo, one of the organizers in Lempira, says, “Our goal is for everyone who is part of the land occupations to have access to land. Land, well, it’s our first mother. For us farmers, we don’t have life without land.” Below: A family at an MST land occupation. At the time of this photo they had been living in this tent for two years, while the MST legal team worked to secure title to the land. Opposite page: Consuelo Castillo and her son in front of their home in a land reform settlement in Bajo Aguán, Honduras.
  • 99. 94 AndyLin JenniferJewell 94
  • 100. 95 The government originally recruited these farmers to move to the region and cultivate export crops in the 1960s and 1970s. Drawn by the government’s promise of collective titles if they worked the land for a certain number of years, the farmers came and established dozens of cooperatives, grow- ing food for their communities and African palm for export. But in 1992, the Law for Modernization of Land allowed collectively owned land to be put up for sale. In the following years, struggling farmers – pres- sured by a few wealthy landowners, often through violence – sold their parcels for almost nothing.137 Most of the cooperatives disappeared, and today a handful of people own most of the plantations. However, a few cooperatives survived, including the Aguán Small Farmers’ Movement and the Unified Movement of Aguán Farmers, and began organizing to reclaim their land. In 2008, President Manuel Zelaya, pressed by small farmers and indigenous groups, pushed forward a land reform decree that, had it been implemented, would have redistributed large tracts and granted titles to the farmer cooperatives in Bajo Aguán and elsewhere. The following year, in an attempt to keep this shift from happening and also to halt the grassroots movement for 137. Lauren Carasik, “Honduras Campesinos in the Crosshairs,” Al Jazeera, April 6, 2012, content/honduran-campesinos-crosshairs-us-government-and- multilateral-institutions-must. constitutional reform, the elite and the mili- tary – with at least tacit support from the US government – led a coup against Zelaya. Post-coup governments made it clear they would not recognize the land reform decree. In response, the farmer cooperatives in Bajo Aguán organized peaceful occupations on many of the privately owned plantations in the region, establishing what they hoped would be permanent settlements. In the Lempira settlement, hundreds of people have reclaimed the area from the largest and most infamous landowner in the region, Miguel Facussé. While they continue to fight for legal rights, the community has set up homes, turned the oil palm plantation into a working cooperative, laid the concrete foun- dation of a school, and set up a collectively owned store. Meanwhile, the government conducts and condones violent efforts to eject the settlers, who also face constant threats from land owners and their private security forces.138 Arrests and assassinations are commonplace. In Bajo Aguán alone, more than 55 people, many of them leaders in the land struggle, have been killed or disappeared since the coup. Consuelo says, “We’re fighting for our kids. They’re the foundation of this movement. 138. Jeremy Kryt, “Campesinos Rising,” In These Times, February 18, 2011, viewbulletin/356-Campesinos+Rising?groupid=42.
  • 101. 96 They are what’s important. We’ve started this movement for our children so they can have their basic needs met, live in dignity, and have access to education. The political assassinations have left some children with- out mothers, without brothers. The kids are the ones that are impacted the most. “We’re going to keep on fighting for our sisters and brothers who gave up their lives, whose blood was spilled for this land God gave to us so that we could all enjoy the land’s natural resources and wealth. Our martyred sisters and brothers may be lying in the grave right now, but as far as we’re concerned, they’re still here with us, stand- ing by our side in this fight. We are not going to give up the struggle. We’re going to keep at it to the very end, no matter what happens.” Many miles away, on the Atlantic coast of Honduras, indigenous communities are also reclaiming their land. The Honduran Black Fraternal Organization (OFRANEH) works to protect the collectively owned ancestral lands, knowledge, language, and ways of life of some 48 Afro-Indigenous Garífuna communi- ties. OFRANEH also advocates a greater role for the Garífuna in national decision-making Garífuna men pull their boats in after a night of fishing off the shore of Sambo Creek, Honduras. The Garífuna are working to protect their ancestral oceanfront lands from incursions by the tourist industry. JenniferJewell 96
  • 102. 97 processes, and promotes Garífuna collective management of local resources as an environ- mental conservation measure. OFRANEH is defending their communities’ lands and oceanfront from the incursions of the tourist and biofuel industries, proj- ects that are supported by the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank, as well as other international investors. As the tourism industry has privatized the ocean front in some beachfront communities, it has increasingly cut off ocean access, histori- cally the main source of sustenance for these communities. In 2001, a group of Garífuna in an area called Sambo Creek occupied and built tem- porary homes on ancestral land that had been bought by a wealthy landowner. Police used tear gas and other violence to disperse the occupiers and arrest leaders. A year later, 80 families from Sambo Creek occupied a much smaller plot of land for a month and a half before they were forced off. OFRANEH took the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and today that land is back in the hands of the local paternato, the Garífuna governing body that administers the collectively run lands.139 On the other side of the country in the department of Intibucá, hundreds of 139. Mark Anderson, Black and Indigenous: Garífuna Activism and Consumer Culture in Honduras (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009), 219-221. indigenous Lenca and small-farmer com- munities make up the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). They, too, are demanding the right to communal control over land, riv- ers, forests, and agriculture, and have achieved several victories. They have stalled or stopped free trade agreements, hydro- electric dams, mining exploration, and logging through ongoing popular education, marches, mobilizations on the capital of Tegucigalpa, and direct actions such as road blockades. They have also destroyed illegal corporate installations on their lands, such as surveying operations that were set up in preparation for building dams on the com- munities’ ancestral rivers. In 1994, COPINH created the first Honduran municipality in which all of the land is col- lectively owned and administered by an indigenous council: San Francisco Opalaca. In the following years, they created six more autonomous municipalities.140 In recent years, farming and indigenous communities in Honduras have continued to grow stronger in their organizing and resistance. Bertha Caceres, a Lenca leader of COPINH, says, “The significance of a coup and a military dictatorship helps us form ourselves into what we call here one big knot... We have a chant that we’ve 140. Bill Weinberg, “Honduras: Indigenous Opposition to the Plan Puebla Panamá,” AIPIN Boletín de Prensa, No. 2142, August 22, 2003.
  • 103. 98 really taken to heart, which is ‘they fear us because we’re fearless.’” In February 2012, in an open-air auditorium in Bajo Aguán, 1,200 people packed onto cement bleachers and plastic seats for the International Gathering for Human Rights in Honduras. The event was organized by the farmer cooperatives of Bajo Aguán, OFRANEH, and COPINH. Farmers, indigenous organizers, and activists from every country in Central America, and other international allies, spent four days together build- ing cross-border strategies to support the regional land struggle and the larger resis- tance in Honduras. The gathering was a mix of spirited songs, traditional dance, theatre, testimony, and proclamations. The event also honored the many farmers who have been killed for peacefully defending their families right to the land. On the last day of the gathering, Bertha of COPINH read from the final declaration, “We are pushed forward in this fight by the indigenous and black peoples of the coun- try, with their profound understanding and strength to stop the plundering of lands, territories, water, forests, and the theft of cultural and other common goods of nature.” Also driving them forward are their visions for the future. Some of these, in the form of dreams written by children living in the occupied territory, were posted next to the entrance to the auditorium at the gather- ing. One child wrote, “My dream is to have a house and land with a good crop of corn, a big field of bananas, a rice field, and a big soccer field; and that my family will always be happy and share good moments with each other.”
  • 104. 99 “The coal is the liver of the earth,” says Roberta Blackgoat of Black Mesa in Arizona. “When you take it out, she dies.”141 Throughout the Americas, indigenous com- munities are working to protect and heal the blood and bones, the liver and heart, and the whole of the earth. In Latin America today, some of the larg- est political mobilizations against corporate exploitation of land are from indigenous peoples, organizations, and movements. So, too, are the most developed strategies for alternative political, cultural, and environ- mental approaches – alternative to the norm, though for indigenous peoples they are often traditional. In some instances, indig- enous peoples have forced protective laws through their country’s governments. In others, they have thwarted free-trade pacts and ousted corporations. In yet others, they have renounced national government and asserted self-governance. 141. Judith Niles, “The Black Mesa Syndrome: Indian Lands, Black Gold,” Orion Magazine online, Summer 1998, www. “The words conservation and ecology, as we use them in the Western sense, don’t exactly fit what Indian people did or do with the land. It was their livelihood, which depended on reciprocity. Thus, the trees were not seen just as trees, they were also relatives. The trees are relatives and other species are relatives and they watched you all the time. It was a forest of eyes that looked at you to see how you were handling the remains of plants and animals.” — Dennis Martinez, O’odham writer, teacher, and founder of Indigenous Peoples’ Restoration Network142 142. Dennis Martinez, “Restoring Indigenous History and Culture to Nature,” in Original Instructions: Indigenous Teachings for a Sustainable Future, Melissa K. Nelson, ed. (Vermont: Bear & Company, 2008), 92.  .  Homelands:  lndigenous  Territories   and  Sovereignty 99
  • 105. 100 The current territories of indigenous peoples cover an estimated 20 percent of the earth’s land143 and as much as 85 percent of the earth’s protected areas144 – the single great- est concentration of unexploited natural resources on the planet. Indigenous lands are thus a prime target for corporations, governments, and large landowners who are seeking to privatize and extract natu- ral resources for profit. One of the most widespread exploitations of the land is the drilling and mining for oil, gas, and coal in order to fuel an insatiable global demand for energy. Other riches that are targets for appropriation are minerals, water, for- ests, seeds, human genetic information, medicinal plants, animals, and indigenous knowledge itself, otherwise known as intel- lectual property rights. Beyond stealing, resource-extracting indus- tries leave behind heavy casualties: toxic oil spills, dirty rivers, drought from deforesta- tion, floods from dams, altered ecosystems, human displacement, and health epidemics. Companies with no accountability to the communities in which they operate often choose to pollute and risk potential fines rather than to pay the higher costs neces- sary to change their practices and reduce their impact. Many harmful projects done in the name of ‘development’ are financed 143. UN, “State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples”, 2009, 84, 144. Ron Weber, John Butler, and Patty Larson, eds., “Preface” in Indigenous Peoples and Conservation Organizations: Experiences in Collaboration, World Wildlife Fund, February 2000. At this seed fair, people celebrate and exchange recovered native varieties in the Ecuadorian highland community of Tzimbuto. CourtesyofGroundswellInternational
  • 106. 101 by the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank, and facilitated by the rules of the WTO and free-trade treaties. Now, increasingly, indigenous lands are also being targeted as places to grow biofuel crops like oil palms, jatropha, and genetically engineered trees. Vast plantations of these crops strip the land of rich biodiversity and replace it with monocultures, triggering a host of ecological consequences. They also “The Okanagan word for ‘our place on the land’ and ‘our language’ is the same. We also refer to the land and our bodies with the same root syllable… The soil, the water, the air, and all the other life forms contrib- uted parts to be our flesh. We are our land/place.” — Jeannette Armstrong, Okanagan, Canadian author and activist145 145. Jeannette Armstrong, “Sharing One Skin” in Cultural Survival Quarterly, Winter 2006, publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/canada/sharing-one-skin. divert precious land and water from their essential survival uses, sometimes triggering food crises. Most indigenous movements in Latin America, as elsewhere, want to sustain or rebuild their own government structures. Especially since the 1980s, indigenous struggles to control and protect their lands have been embedded in two broader goals. The first is the right to self-government, to determine and administer their economic, educational, judicial, and food and agri- cultural systems. The second is the right to territory, meaning everything under, on, and over the land, as well as the political space to exercise control of it. These rights, they say, are not given by the state, but rather are intrinsic. In some cases, indigenous peoples have simply declared their land autonomous, and begun to recognize only their own govern- ment. They are also mobilizing to change national government and global economic policies, working with other indigenous and social movements through direct action and political pressure. They commonly employ tactics of marches, road-blocks, sit-ins, and extra-legal tactics. Less often, they engage in lawsuits and lobbying.
  • 107. 102 A Global Inspiration: Zapatista Autonomy in Southern Mexico The Zapatistas, a Mayan movement in south- ern Mexico, have served as an international model of indigenous autonomy and protec- tion of lands and culture. The Zapatistas burst onto the front page of world news with their armed uprising on January 1, 1994 – the same day the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect, and only months after the Mexican president modified the country’s constitution to allow the open-market sale of ejidos, or commu- nal lands. With their declaration “Ya basta!” or “Enough already!”, the Zapatistas rocked Mexico’s stable neoliberal rule and catalyzed similar anti-globalization movements around the globe. After several years of negotiating and pressuring the government to respect their rights to self-governance and control of their own lands and people, in 2001 the Zapatistas publically declared their autonomy. They created 32 autonomous municipalities spanning the state of Chiapas. Each municipality elects its own governing council to oversee the territories and serve as courts, often using principles of restor- ative justice, which focuses on reintegrating people back into the community instead of imprisoning them. They have created com- munity infrastructure, including hospitals and clinics, independent media, warehouses to store crops, cooperatives, and Mayan- language schools. An autonomous Zapatista banking system provides capital for new community projects. All of this has been done using participatory democracy, where everyone is – in theory, anyway – an active part of decision-making. The government has violently attacked Zapatista communities over and over, yet the movement perseveres and thrives. “In the heart of the Earth, in the place where the sun shines directly, we say that the territories we inhabit are ours due to time, history and rights.” — From the final declaration of the Second Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples and Nationalities of Abya Yala, Quito, Ecuador, July 25, 2004
  • 108. 103 A mural depicts Mexican revolutionaries Ricardo Flores Magón, Emiliano Zapata, and Subcommander Marcos in a Mayan Zapatista community in Chiapas, Mexico. AllisonManuel
  • 109. 104 Apples and Zapatistas146 The following excerpt is from the book Conversations with Durito: Stories of the Zapatistas and Neoliberalism by Subcomandante Marcos. Durito is a pipe-smoking, glasses-wearing beetle with whom Marcos has an ongoing dialogue. Durito studies “neoliberalism and its strategy of domi- nation in Latin America,” he tells Marcos, in order to find out “how long your struggle is going to last, and whether or not you are going to win.” Marcos asks why the beetle wants to know. “To know how long we beetles are going to have to take care that you do not squash us with your big boots,” he answers. Durito says that life is like an apple. He also says that there are those who eat them green, those who eat them rotten, and those who eat them ripe. Durito says that there are some, very few, who can choose how they eat an apple: either in a beautiful fruit arrangement, pureed, in one of those odious (to Durito) apple sodas, in juice, in cake, in cookies, or in whatever their gastronomy dictates. Durito says that the indigenous people feel obligated to eat the rotten apple, that the consumption of green apples is imposed upon youth, that children are promised a beautiful apple all the while it’s poisoned with worms of deceit, and that women are told they will be given an apple but only get half an orange. Durito says that life is like an apple. He also says that when a Zapatista is faced with an apple, he stands vigilant with his blade ready, and with a skillful slice, he cuts the apple in half. Durito says that the Zapatista neither intends to eat the apple, nor is he inter- ested in whether the apple is ripe, rotten, or green. 146. Subcomandante Marcos, Conversations with Durito: Stories of the Zapatistas and Neoliberalism, Accion Zapatista Editorial Collective, ed. (New York: Autonomedia Press, 2005), 315. 104
  • 110. 105 Durito says that while the heart of the apple is exposed, the Zapatista, with great care, removes the seeds, then tills a parcel of land and plants the seeds. Next, says Durito, the Zapatista waters the little plant with his tears and blood, and guards its growth. Durito says that the Zapatista will not even see the apple tree blossom, much less the fruit it will give. Durito says that the Zapatista planted the apple tree so that one day, when he is not here, just about anyone would be able to cut a ripe apple and be free to eat it, either in a fruit arrangement, pureed, as juice, in a pie, or in one of those odious (to Durito) apple sodas. Durito says that the Zapatista’s problem is this: to plant the seed and guard its growth. Durito says that the problem for everyone else is to struggle to be free to choose how to eat the apple that will come. Durito says that this is the difference between the Zapatistas and the rest of humanity: where everyone sees an apple, the Zapatista sees a seed, goes and cultivates the land, plants the seed, and guards it. Outside of that, says Durito, we Zapatistas are like the kid next door. If anything, we’re uglier, says Durito, while watching from the corner of his eye as I take off my ski mask. — Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, from some dawn in the 21st century 105
  • 111. 106 Part of a Single Struggle: Challenging Big Oil in Peru Throughout Peru, indigenous communities are working together to defend their lands from exploitation by energy corporations. For many years, the Peruvian government permitted multinational companies to con- duct oil, gas, and mining projects in the Amazon without the consent of the peoples who live on these lands. In 2008, in order to facillitate the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement, then-President Alan García signed a group of laws designed to further lure foreign corporations to the region. One of the most contentious laws would have allowed indigenous lands to be more easily sold to private investors. Indigenous movements organized protests in response and forced the government to overturn the decree. Another wave of massive demonstrations swept the country in the spring of 2009. Tens of thousands of indigenous people, led by the Inter-Ethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Amazon (AIDESEP), took to the streets, blocking highways and oil-production facilities. “The president thought we would be docile in accepting plans that could completely change the way we hunt for food and raise crops, and we are not,” said Juan Agustín, a leader of AIDESEP.147 Thirty-four people, including both civilians and police, were killed when police cracked down on June 5, 2009.148 Following this tragedy, the govern- ment revoked two more of the decrees. The years of protest brought about a major victory in May 2010, when Peru’s congress approved a law requiring that indigenous communities be consulted regarding oil, gas, and mining projects on their land. In late 2011, President Ollanta Humala approved the law.149 In another recent achievement, in June 2011, the Quechua people of northern Peru prevailed in getting the Loreto regional gov- ernment to pledge to meet long-standing demands for public services, like schools and doctors, as well as to investigate the damage being caused by oil companies. This research will be crucial if communities decide to take legal action against Pluspetrol, the Argentinean company that runs some of the largest oil operations in the Amazon and that has left some 40 years’ worth of oil spills, poisoned rivers, and degraded forests. 147. Simon Romero, “Fatal Clashes Erupt in Peru at Roadblock,” New York Times online, June 5, 2009, http://www.nytimes. com/2009/06/06/world/americas/06peru.html. 148. Amazon Watch, “Peruvian National Indigenous Movement and Policy,” accessed February 22, 2012, work/peruvian-national-indigenous-movement-and-policy. 149. BBC News, “Peru’s President Approves Indigenous Consultation Law,” September 6, 2011, accessed February 22, 2012,
  • 112. 107 Also in northern Peru in the same year, lead- ers from neighboring indigenous federations announced a historic agreement to put aside long-standing disputes and unify their efforts to challenge oil corporations.150 The 150. Darrin Mortenson, “Landmark Agreement on Amazon Oilfields Shows Indigenous Movements’ New Power,” Truthout, June 9, 2011, accessed February 22, 2012, drama-amazon/1307632808. pact allows communities to work together on lawsuits, protests, and government nego- tiations. “We are uniting more every day,” says indigenous leader Alfonso Lopez Tejada. “Each one of us feels more like part of a single struggle.”151 151. Ibid. A theater presentation about the struggle to defend Native corn at the Blessing of the Seeds in Chihuahua, Mexico in 2009. ©DavidLauer
  • 113. 108 The Rights of Mother Earth From the invitation to the Rights of Mother Earth International Indigenous Conference in 2012 by Tom B.K. Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network and Dr. Daniel Wildcat of Haskell Indian Nation University. “Our prophecies and teachings tell us that life on Mother Earth is in danger and is coming to a time of great transformation. As Indigenous Peoples, we are accepting the responsibility des- ignated by our prophecies to tell the world that we must live in peace with each other and the Earth to ensure harmony within Creation. Our Indigenous lifeways are the original “green economies.” This is more than an abstract philosophy. Our Mother Earth is the source of life. Water is her lifeblood. The well-being of the natural environment predicts the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual longevity of our Peoples. Mother Earth’s health and that of our Indigenous Peoples are intrinsically inter- twined. When our homelands are in a state of good health our Peoples are truly healthy. This inseparable relationship must be respected for the sake of our future generations and for the well-being of the Earth herself. Alliances are being formed globally of Indigenous and non-indigenous groups and individuals committed to creating a system of jurisprudence that sees and treats the natural ecosystems of Mother Earth as a fundamental, rights-bearing entity. Governments must move away from a legal system that views nature only as property. A new paradigm, which is based on Indigenous worldview, needs to be forwarded that embrace humanities’ responsibility as true guardians for Mother Earth and future generations, and which honors the interrelationship in all life.” 108
  • 114. 109 Indigenous farmers in Guatemala participate in a workshop about making compost. CourtesyofGrassrootsInternational
  • 115. 110 Recognizing Indigenous Autonomy: U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples In 2007, after more than 30 years of advo- cacy by indigenous peoples and allies, the U.N. adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The declaration affirms numerous rights of indigenous peoples, including their right to autonomy and self-government, and their right to “freely determine their political status and freely pursue their eco- nomic, social and cultural development.”152 UNDRIP includes language respecting land rights and mandates consent from indig- enous communities before governments can approve projects that affect their lands, territories, or resources. The declaration has been widely celebrated as a legal tool and framework with which to challenge unjust laws and shape future policy. It can be used to influence both national and international discussions that affect indigenous communi- ties, including trade agreements and climate negotiations. Because the declaration is nonbinding, how- ever, governments have ample opportunities to ignore or interpret provisions as they see fit. The U.S. State Department, for example, interpreted the prior consent provision as “a 152. UN, “United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” March 2008. process of meaningful consultation with tribal leaders, but not necessarily the agreement of those leaders, before the actions addressed in those consultations are taken.”153 The U.S. was one of four countries that originally voted against the declara- tion, though after steady pressure from Native American organizations and allies, it changed its position and signed on in 2010, three years later. Like other nonbind- ing global initiatives, the potential of this declaration to create structural change will depend on whether decision-makers are held accountable. “Whereas colonization favored the Christian god, today’s globalization model favors the gods of money and technology… This time, they’re not Christian; they’re just rich. But the tyranny is the same.” — Winona LaDuke, Anishinaabekwe (Ojibwe) activist and environmentalist154 153. U.S. Department of State, “Announcement of U.S. Support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” December 16, 2010, organization/153223.pdf. 154. Winona LaDuke, “The People Belong to the Land” in Paradigm Wars: Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance to Globalization, Jerry Mander and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, eds. (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, October 2006).
  • 116. 111 Can’t See the Forest for the Trees: Why REDD+ Is Not Green155 Indigenous communities around the world are drawing attention both to the dangers of cli- mate change and one of its so-called solutions. REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is a global program promoted by the U.N., industrialized nations, and international financial institutions like the World Bank. The program allows countries and corporations to buy ‘clean-air’ credits from countries with undeveloped forests. In exchange, governments, indigenous organizations, and other groups agree to preserve areas of their forests, with the rationale that the trees’ absorption of carbon, the element that causes global warming, will counteract damage done by industrial polluters. Many REDD+ negotiations involve indigenous lands and indigenous organizations have been at the forefront of denouncing the program, along with social movements. REDD+ is problem- atic in several ways. First, the logic allows industries that release carbon to essentially pay to continue polluting, instead of working to reduce emissions at their source. Second, the very premise – attaching a monetary value to the ecological role of forests – commodifies what indigenous people say should never be commodified. Third, the market-based approach raises questions about who ‘owns’ the forests. Agreements made with state or national governments, or with indigenous ‘leaders’ who may falsely claim to represent their people, cannot be trusted to protect either the priorities and well-being of the communities that live in the areas affected, or the earth itself. The fourth issue concerns the kind of activities REDD+ will allow. Tree plantations, vast fields of one species of tree like oil palm or eucalyptus, are planted for quick harvest and large profit. By the U.N.’s definition, these ecologically destructive plantations can be counted as 155. Global Justice Ecology Project, Carbon Trade Watch, and Indigenous Environmental Network, “Key Arguments against Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+),” June 2011, From this report: “REDD is a global initiative to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests to compensate governments and companies or owners of forests in developing countries not to cut their carbon-rich forests or to reduce their rate of deforestation and forest degradation as a market mechanism to avoid GHG emissions. REDD+ expands REDD to develop methods for carbon sequestration through conservation of forest (and wetlands, agricultural systems) carbon stocks, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.” Additional sources for this box include: Ruxandra Guidi, “Will a UN Climate-Change Solution Help Kuna Yala?”, National Geographic Daily News online, December 8, 2010, solution_help_kuna_yala/; Andrew Miller, “Why Investing in Forest Offsets Might Cause More Problems Than It Solves,” Amazon Watch website, February 2, 2011,; Global Justice Ecology, “Why REDD Is Wrong,” accessed February 22, 2012,; and Shalmali Guttal et al., “Climate Crises and Land,” Focus on the Global South website, March 2011,
  • 117. 112 forests. This means that corporations and governments could log species-rich jungles or ancient woods, create plantations in their place, and collect REDD+ payments. At the same time, REDD+ regulations could prohibit traditional indigenous agricultural practices and cause indigenous communities to be evicted. REDD+ directly threatens communities in industrialized countries, too. When industries can buy the right to continue polluting instead of changing their destructive practices, everyone and everything suffers. Indigenous communities around the world have been forming alliances, gathering at international climate talks, and amplifying their voices of dissent. At the December 2011 UN Conference in South Africa, a new coalition, the Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities against REDD and for Life, called for a moratorium on REDD+. “We are here to express our concern about the false solutions that have made a business out of climate change,” said Marlon Santi, former President of the National Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador.156 156. Global Justice Ecology Project, “Indigenous Peoples and Allies Call for a Moratorium on REDD+,” December 6, 2011, http://www. 157. Hallie Boas, ed., “No REDD Papers,” Charles Overbeck/Eberhardt Press, Volume 1, November 2011, 73; http://climatevoices.files. “When a natural function like forest respiration becomes a product with a price, it’s easy to see who’s going to end up with control of the forests.” — Gustavo Castro Soto, Co-coordinator, Otros Mundos, Chiapas, Mexico157
  • 118. 113 In Harmony Saúl Atanasio Roque Morales Saúl Atanasio Roque Morales is a Xoxocotla Indian from the state of Morelos, Mexico. He is a member of the Council of Peoples and the Xoxocotla Drinking Water Association. Within our community, we still hold the cultural values we inherited from our ancestors. In daily life, we are always in harmony with nature, our lands, our water, our air. We still watch our chil- dren chase the butterflies and birds. We see the harmony between the crops and the land, and we continue to perform ceremonies that give thanks. It never crosses our mind to abandon our lands. Our environment is the treasure of the future generations. We don’t like the way that moder- nity is advancing, destroying our territory and our environment. We believe technological modernity is better named a ‘death threat.’ The communities are all being impacted by social and environmental problems. In the past few years, industrial and housing projects have been growing and multiplying. We learned that there were to be construction projects erected, including ones to build [more than 37,000] houses, close to our spring. There are also plans to build a golf course. Other companies are opening up [plant] nurseries. There’s another company that’s devastating a mountain called Montenegro to extract material to produce cement. We’re seeing our lands be devastated and paved over and our water levels lowering. Some communities have gas installations built on them. Others are defending their ecological reserves so their forests don’t keep on being dev- astated. We’re seeing wastewater contamination because there’s no treatment plant or way to dispose of these waters. We’re all affected by the run-off. We also have a problem with increasing trash, with industry producing only disposable waste that isn’t biodegradable. In the community of Acuyquetlan where there’s an open-air landfill, they’ve found cancer and children born with deformities. We joined in support of this com- munity’s fight and we blocked highways to keep them from dumping more trash. Our fight drew international attention because trash piles began to build up around Cuernavaca since the city could no longer dump in the community. The people succeeded in closing the landfill indefinitely and the local authorities agreed to take remediation actions to avoid the pollution leaching into the water. But we’re still waiting for this to happen and the government contin- ues to insist that the landfill be reopened. 113
  • 119. 114 The constitution says that all natural resources belong to the nation and the nation consists of our people, the indigenous people. The land is the great heritage of our people, but the authorities are protecting the companies because they’re getting paid by them. Part of our movement calls for the entire region to be declared a protected natural area. There are areas where it’s all right to construct, but where our springs are replenished should be respected. We organized 13 communities to defend our springs. We didn’t get much attention, so after three years, we decided to block highways. We did it to communicate our problem, but we were met with repression and some people got wounded. The people also fought back: they made the police run, they destroyed a couple patrol cars, they took arms from the cops and because of this, some of our people were detained. We agreed to establish a dialogue to find a solution. When the dialogue began, we agreed to lift the blockade. They suspended the first construction project for 2,000 houses, but then the construction company started to build again. We withdrew from the negotiations because they didn’t keep their side of the bargain. Instead, we organized a People’s Congress to get support for our demands. The first Congress took place in Xoxocotla with 48 communities. We addressed all the communities’ environmental and ecological concerns. After the Congress, we held more protests in Cuernavaca, denouncing all of the socio-environmental injustices facing our state. We had more people participate than ever. We’re hoping those 48 communities will double in size. As long as there’s no justice, we’ll keep fighting. That’s our manifesto. We won’t let the govern- ment or foreign companies own or exploit our resources. We say that the fight is not only for us, it’s for all of humanity because we all need nature. 114
  • 120. 115 Creating a Just Transition: Quitting Coal in Black Mesa The Navajo and Hopi peoples of Black Mesa, Arizona, live atop the largest coal deposit in the U.S. For 40 years, their lands have been strip-mined by Peabody Western Coal Company, in collusion with federal and local governments. As a result, 12,000 people have been forced to relocate from their ancestral homes. The water supply has substantially dried up. Toxic byprod- ucts have been making people sick. Sacred sites have been destroyed. Navajo and Hopi organizers are steadily pushing for an end to this destruction with protests, lobbying, marches, and ongo- ing community education. And they have been seeing the fruits of their labor. In January 2010, a judge from the Department of the Interior revoked Peabody Coal’s permit to operate the Black Mesa Mine, one of the two large strip mines on Black Mesa.158 That same year, community groups sued the Federal Office of Surface Mining for with- holding records related to the coal mining. In early 2011, the agency agreed to release the documents.159 This informa- tion will help Native American 158. Fired Up Media, “Victory for Black Mesa – Peabody Coal Mining Permit Denied” in It’s Getting Hot in Here, January 8, 2010, accessed February 22, 2012, 159 Andy Bessler, “Peabody Coal Mine Documentation Released,” Navajo-Hopi Observer online, February 15, 2011, Main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=13343. WahleahJohns,BlackMesa WaterCoalition When the Navajo Nation Council was negotiating with Peabody Coal Company regarding mining operations on Navajo land without consulting with the local community, Black Mesa Water Coalition organized a 100-mile horse ride and march to the Council’s April 2010 session. The event persuaded the Council to come to Black Mesa and listen to community concerns.
  • 121. 116 and environmental groups understand and address the damage that has been done to their land and help them monitor Peabody’s cleanup plans. The information could also provide the basis for future lawsuits against Peabody’s remaining Kayenta Mine. The struggle to close the mines is complicated because both the Hopi and Navajo Nations are economically reliant on the coal industry, since it provides jobs and a significant part of the nations’ budgets. Groups like the Black Mesa Water Coalition (BMWC) are therefore working both to shut down the mines and, at the same time, craft a ‘just transition’ – creating sustainable income alternatives to transition away from coal. In 2009, the Coalition helped push through the first green jobs legis- lation among Native peoples in the U.S., to fund environmentally sound projects. One endeavor currently in development is an expansive solar-energy project on reclaimed mine land, while another is exploring the marketing of Native wool. The Coalition maps current green programs and organizations and has created a toolkit to help Navajo Nation members start green busi- nesses. It also hosts community forums on environmental issues.
  • 122. 117 APPENDICES Gratitude Hundreds of people shared their dreams, experiences, analysis, wisdom, research, homes, and skills with us to make this report possible. We are pro- foundly grateful to every one. A partial list of those who provided interviews, photographs, hospitality, research, analytic feedback, chapter critique, logistical support, translation, copy-editing, a multitude of other gifts, and plenty of love, include: Maria Aguiar, Brahm Ahmadi, Joice Aparecida Lopes, Greg Asbed, Nikhil Aziz, Emigdio Ballon, Stephen Bartlett, Belgian Field Liberation Movement, Lucas Benitez, Jacquie Berger, Black Mesa Water Coalition, Steve Brescia, Tim Burke, Ben Burkett, Berta Cáceres Flores, Via Campesina, Valentina Campos, Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Association, Ana Carneiro, Consuelo Castillo, Gustavo Castro Soto, Christ in the Desert Monastery, Nancy Civetta, Jeff Conant, Francisca Cortez, Edward Crimmins, Diana Denham, Ben Depp, Jay Dines, Flávio Duffles, Monica Dyer, Neneide Eliane, Juana Ferrer, Barry Field, Tiffany Field, Kimberley Fitch, Geraldo Fontes, Lesley Freeman, Margarita Garcia, Laura Germino, Kim Girton, Melody Gonzalez, Sylvia Gonzalez, Grassroots International, Chessa Gross, Groundswell International, Roberto (Bear) Guerra, Ruxandra Guidi, Nayeli Guzman, Deborah Habib, Kari Hamerschlag, Dena Hoff, Eric Holt-Giménez, Juan Houghton, Ben James, Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, Rosnel Jean-Baptiste, Jennifer Jewell, Rachel Kantra, Ruth Katz, Charlotte Kesl Photography/PBI, Winona LaDuke, David Lauer, Marisol León, Andy Lin, Andreia Lopes, Paula Lukats, Gregor MacLennan, Allison Manuel, Ilda Martines de Souza, Fátima Matheus, Kellee Matsushita and Brave New Seed Photography, Kathleen McTigue, Mesa Refuge, Adriana Mesadri, Andrew Miller, Tequila Minsky, Miriam Miranda, Saúl Atanasio Roque Morales, Dawn Morrison, Annie Murphy, National Family Farm Coalition, Erik Nicholson, Miriam Nobre, Julian Novales-Flamarique, Franziska Oggier, Jose Oliva, Dennis Olson, Kathy Ozer, Nic Paget-Clarke, Joe Parker, Dulcineía Pavan, John Peck, Julia Perkins, Anne Petermann, Lorette Picciano, Elaine Poirier, Brett Ramey, Romeo Ramirez, Marcia Ramos, Mina Remy, Heather Retberg, Gerardo At the gate of a land movement settlement in Bajo Aguán, Honduras: “Justice. Liberty. Land.” JenniferJewell
  • 123. 118 Reyes Chavez, Peter Robbins, Zemora Rose Tevah, Peter Rosset, Santropol Roulant, Grahame Russell, Cruz Salucio Perez, Lurdes Sánchez Sánchez, Miguel Santistevan, Carol Schachet, Kyle Schafer, David Schmidt, Jeremy Seifert, Robin Seydel, Julia Shindel, Sandy Smith-Nonini, Marilene de Souza Santos, Alexandra Spieldoch, Bob St. Peter, Erica Stavis, Molly Stentz, Ron Strochlic, Neil Tangri, Jacques-Jean Tiziou, Adriana Veiga Aranha, Michael Wall, Lynn Walters, Ja-Rei Wang, Courtney White, Gislaine Williams, Renee Wolters, Catherine Wright, Ray Young, and Elaine Zuckerman. Very special thanks to our funders who supported this project: Foresight Fund at the Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation, Kolu Zigbi and the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, Kirk Hardie of the Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation, Valentine Doyle and the Lawson Valentine Foundation, and Alfred Lippincott and the Lippincott Foundation. We especially want to thank Ricardo Salvador and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, without whose generous grant this project would not have been feasible. We are also grateful to all of the funders who have supported Other Worlds’ work over the years: Aepoch Fund, American Jewish World Service, Anonymous Fund IV of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, Bridge Fund of the Tides Foundation, CarEth Foundation, Clinger Foundation, Copen Family Fund, Funding Exchange, Haiti Union Solidarity Fund, James R. Dougherty, Jr. Foundation, Garfield Foundation, Grassroots International, Jerry Greenfield and Elizabeth Skarie Foundation, Jewish Communal Fund, Kindle Project Fund of the Common Counsel Foundation, Maverick Fund and Mother Jones Fund of the Peace Development Fund, Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation, New World Foundation, One Foundation, One World Foundation, PRBB Foundation, Puffin Foundation Ltd., San Francisco Foundation, Seattle Foundation, Susan and Arthur Lloyd, The Sister Fund, Tides Foundation, Tikva Grassroots Empowerment Fund of Tides Foundation, Threshold Foundation, Trocaire, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, USA for Africa, Woodbury Fund, and our many generous individual donors.
  • 124. 119 Dig  Deeper Feeling inspired? Read on for a list of actions, resources, and organizations to get you started. 1. Time to Make Salt: Food Sovereignty TAKE ACTION: • Help introduce the idea of food sovereignty to your local food group, community organiza- tion, or educational institution. Order copies of Grassroots International and National Family Farm Coalition’s booklet explaining food sovereignty (or download here: www.grassrootsonline. org/publications/fact-sheets-reports/food-sovereignty-explained-simple-language-new- booklet) and use them to start conversations. Host a workshop about food sovereignty in your community, with the help of “Food for Thought and Action: A Food Sovereignty Curriculum” (download here: food-thought-action-a-food-sovereignty-curriculum). • Learn about and get inspired by Via Campesina, the world’s largest coalition of small and medium-sized farmers, women, and landless people calling for food sovereignty the world over. Watch their most recent video ( • Challenge yourself to find the language and strategies to make conversations about the workings of international financial institutions interesting and useful. Global Exchange’s Global Economy Resource Center ( and the International Forum on Globalization ( can help. • Support food sovereignty in your own community by challenging corporate control and lobby- ing for policies that support local food systems. See the “Take Action” sections from Chapters 1 and 2. • Join the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance, which is bringing together groups from around the country to build a national movement for food sovereignty, and to connect national initiatives with the thriving international movement. Have your organization join (www.usfoodsover- • Get involved with international campaigns such as those to halt the expansion of the WTO, stop new trade agreements and renegotiate existing ones, end Fast Track, and cancel global debt: Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch,; Our World is Not for Sale global campaign;; Citizens Trade Campaign,; BenJames 119
  • 125. 120 Democracy Is for People campaign of Public Citizen,; and Jubilee USA, • Learn more about what you can do to stop the WTO from continuing its tremendous damage to agriculture. The “Derailer’s Guide to the WTO” by Focus on the Global South is a helpful resource ( Use the Tools for Activists from The Bank Information Center, which has put together a comprehensive toolkit on both understanding and challenging the World Bank ( MORE ORGANIZATIONS AND RESOURCES: • Food First, • Agricultural Missions, • Grassroots International, • Friends of the Earth International, • Focus on the Global South, • Otros Mundos, • Via Campesina’s Food Sovereignty and Trade webpage, • Latin American Coordination of Farmer Organizations (CLOC), • “The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil,” project of Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions, • “An Information and Advocacy Guide to the World Bank Group” by Bank Information Center, • Alliance for Responsible Trade • Food Sovereignty, subtitled in Spanish by Rutas de Solidaridad, Basque Radio Television, • Peter M. Rosset, Food Is Different (London: Zed Books, 2006). • John E. Peck, “What is Food Sovereignty?” Family Farm Defenders, • “WTO (World Trade Organization): Why is it Bad for You?” • “Food Sovereignty,” a short clip by the National Family Farm Coalition, 2. A Level Planting Field: Challenging Corporate Rule TAKE ACTION: • Organize a local campaign to protect your community from corporate farming and other corpo- rate takeovers of natural resources: The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund helps people get started in challenging corporate takeover of their communities (;
  • 126. 121 Corporate Accountability International’s webpage connects you with an abundance of ways to challenge corporate control of food ( • Get involved with campaigns against agro-giants: check out the Organic Consumers campaign against Monsanto ( • Boycott corporate-owned seeds, especially those owned by the largest agro-corporations such as Monsanto (Seminis) and Syngenta. • Look up blacklisted corporations and raise awareness about their practices. CorpWatch is a good resource. Check out their “Food and Agriculture” section. • Find out what corporations are behind your favorite foods. The Cornucopia Institute (www.cor- tracks the corporations behind organic labels and provides facts about how organic they really are. • Ask your Congressperson to oppose the harmful effects of large-scale factory farming, such as requesting that he or she support the Livestock Marketing Fairness Act. Food and Water Watch’s website can keep you updated ( MORE ORGANIZATIONS AND RESOURCES: • Family Farm Defenders, • Food and Water Watch, • National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, • Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, (New York: Penguin Press, 2006). For more resources listed by Michael Pollan: • Raj Patel, Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System (London: Portobello Books Ltd., 2007). • Vandana Shiva, Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace (Cambridge: South End Press, 2005). • “The Future of Food,” directed by Deborah Koons Garcia, 2005, • “Fresh,” directed by Ana Sofia Joanes, 2009, • “The World According to Monsanto,” directed by Marie-Monique Robin, 2008. • “Fed Up! Genetic Engineering, Industrial Agriculture and Sustainable Alternatives,” directed by Angelo Sacerdote, 2002, • “Food, Inc.,” directed by Robert Kenner, 2008, • “Percy Schmeiser – David versus Monsanto,” directed by Bertram Verhaag, 2009. • “The Meatrix,” Grace and Free Range Studios, 2003,
  • 127. 122 3. Good Growing Conditions: Changing Government Policies TAKE ACTION: • Consider joining a food policy council or starting one if there is none in your area. Groups across the U.S. are forming these city- and state-wide councils to create strong local-food poli- cies ( • Lobby your state to make laws friendlier to family farms. Check out the Georgia Organics Action and Advocacy website to see an example of effective advocacy ( • Work to change national agricultural policy. Check out Food and Water Watch ( and the National Family Farm Coalition (, and their campaigns to make the U.S. Farm Bill and international trade agreements more fair and just. • Learn about initiatives and campaigns that are challenging structural racism in land distribution and agricultural policies. The Rural Coalition’s report, “A Seat at the Table” (available on their website,, is a good resource. • Learn about the history of U.S. agricultural policies. Get started at the Institute for Agricultural and Trade Policy’s webpage ( MORE ORGANIZATIONS AND RESOURCES: • National Family Farm Coalition, • Rural Coalition, • Farm Policy, • Food First blog, • Women, Food & Agriculture Network, • Community Food Security Coalition, • US Food Policy, • Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, • Oakland Institute, • Organic Consumers Association Fair World Project, • Domestic Fair Trade Association, • “The Global Banquet: Politics of Food,” directed by Annie Macksoud and John Ankele, 1999, • “King Corn,” directed by Aaron Woolf, 2007. • “We Feed the World,” directed by Erwin Wagenhofer, 2005, film.htm. • “Dive!,” directed by Jeremy Seifert, 2010,
  • 128. 123 4. Bringing it Home: Creating and Reviving Local Food Systems TAKE ACTION: • Buy your food at a CSA (community-supported agriculture) farm or farmers’ market in your community. Local Harvest ( maps out sources for local food in the U.S. A CSF (community-supported fishery) is an option for seafood lovers. Local Catch (www.localcatch. org) provides a similar map of CSFs. • Save seeds from season to season or organize a seed swap. Get started by reading “How to Organize a Community Seed Swap” ( • Buy heirloom and organic seeds. The Organic Seed Alliance has a list of organic seed companies ( • Share a garden space with your neighbor or friends. Share your harvest with those you love (and those you haven’t met yet!). • Liberate land. Reclaim urban and rural spaces for food production (and ensure that this is done responsibly, without contributing to dispossession of the land or property of marginalized com- munities). Work with your local government to pass a community-gardening ordinance that protects land for gardens. Learn more about how to leverage existing policies and laws to liber- ate land with the help of Public Health Law and Policy’s “Seeding the City: Land Use Policies to Promote Urban Agriculture” (available at • Share food with your friends, neighbors, and other members of your community. Hosting col- lective meals is a great way to connect people across genera- tions and cultural backgrounds. The town of Greenfield, MA, holds an annual free harvest supper and has put together a how-to guide (freeharvestsupper. torunfhs.pdf). • Ask your grocery to stock more local and healthy items. • Join or start a buying club with other folks in your community. A buying club is a group of people who get together to buy healthy food in bulk (packaged foods, grains, dried foods, etc). You can find guides for joining or starting a club online (for example, www. At the Limonade Women’s Association for Development in Haiti, women grow peanuts and sell peanut butter. CourtesyofGrassrootsInternational
  • 129. 124 • Ask your local radio to host a program or run a public service announcement about local food. MORE ORGANIZATIONS AND RESOURCES: • New Farm of the Rodale Institute, • National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, • The Color of Food, • National Young Farmers’ Coalition, • Path to Freedom, • Rooted in Community, • Urban Lifeways Network, • The Black/Land Project, • Hawai’i Homegrown Food Network, • First Nations Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative, • Indigenous Seed Sovereignty Network, Network • The Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at UC Santa Cruz, www.casfs.ucsc. edu/publications/for-the-gardener • White Earth Land Recovery ( and the Native Harvest Online Catalog ( • Sandor Ellix Katz, The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved (White River Junction: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2006). • Amy Franceschini and Daniel Tucker, Farm Together Now: A Portrait of People, Places and Ideas for a New Food Movement (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2010). • Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen, The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-sufficient Living in the Heart of the City (Port Townsend: Process Media, 2010). • Anna Lappé and Bryant Terry, Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen (New York: Penguin Books, 2006). • “Dirt! The Movie,” directed by Bill Benenson, Gene Rosow, and Eleonore Dailly, 2009, • Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, • “Local Food Economics,” directed by Georgia Organics, 2009, 5. Land of Plenty: Making Good Food Accessible to All TAKE ACTION: • Organize for locally produced, healthy foods in your child’s school, your workplace or univer- sity, or your local hospital. Help administrators who manage food services to start programs
  • 130. 125 that support local farmers and provide healthy food. Find supportive material at the National Farm to School Network ( and in “Building Local Food Programs on College Campus: Tips for Dining Administrators, Family Farmers & Student Advocates,” a guide by Community Alliance for Family Farmers (CAFF) ( resources). • Support nationwide policies and programs that make healthy, local food accessible and afford- able for everyone. Visit the National Family Farm Coalition’s website ( and the Community Food Security Coalition’s page on federal policy ( to learn more about working for food-justice provisions in the Farm Bill. • If you participate in a CSA or farmers’ market, work with your farmer to help start a slid- ing scale for farmshares, subsidized shares, or usage of food stamps and WIC benefits. For more ideas, visit the Just Food ( mixed-income-csa-participation) and Food Research and Action Center ( federal-foodnutrition-programs) webpages. • Find out if your local CSA, community garden, or farmers’ market has a way to donate extra food at the end of the day. If they don’t, help facilitate a way with local organizations and groups. • Check out Why Hunger’s webpage on race and the food system, which explains how race mani- fests within the food system, as well as training resources to help start conversations about race and to make your organization more accountable ( • Sign up for the Growing Food and Justice listserv, which will update you on news and actions related to justice and accessibility in the food system ( MORE ORGANIZATIONS AND RESOURCES: • Growing Power, • Growing Food and Justice for All Initiative, • Fair Food Network, • Just Food, • Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, • Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, • Live Real, • “Youth and Food Justice: Lessons from the Civil Rights Movement,” Food First, 2010, • Paul Fleischman, Seedfolks (New York: Harper Collins, 1999). • “Food Stamped,” directed by Shira and Yoav Potash, 2011, • “The Garden,” directed by Scott Hamilton Kennedy (2008).
  • 131. 126 6. Honor the Hands: Foodworker Justice TAKE ACTION: • Support food, farm, and restaurant workers organizing for better working conditions. Join boycotts and hold solidarity protests in your area – the organizations in this section all show you how. • Stand with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and their current campaigns by organiz- ing a protest, joining a caravan, or sending letters. • Support the Restaurant Opportunities Council (ROC) in their campaigns for higher minimum wage for tipped workers and for better working conditions. See their action alerts here: • Join efforts to bridge healthy and local-food movements with the farmworker rights move- ments. Just Harvest USA tells you how ( • Help build economic justice and power for workers. Learn about and engage in campaigns and organizing efforts through these organizations: Jobs with Justice,; US Federation of Worker Cooperatives,; and United Students Against Sweatshops, • Support restaurants, industries, businesses, and corporations that treat their workers well. “If You Care, Eat Here” is a diner’s guide produced by Restaurant Opportunities Center which docu- ments conditions in different restaurants in New York City ( Create something like this for your own city by interviewing workers in the restaurants where you eat. Research how certain businesses, restaurants, and corporations treat their workers and choose your patronage accordingly. • Get to know the workers in your life. Offer respect and generous tips. Reaffirm the dignity of their work. Find out how the institutions you are a part of treat their workers, and if workers are organizing, ask how you can support their efforts.
  • 132. 127 MORE ORGANIZATIONS AND RESOURCES: • Campaign for Labor Rights, • United Farm Workers, • Farm Labor Organizing Committee, • Food Chain Workers Alliance, • Real Food Real Jobs Campaign of UNITE HERE, • Fair Food: From Field to Table, Justice Project for “Food Justice Certified” label, • Fair Trade Resource Network, • National Immigrant Farming Initiative, • Agriculture and Land- Based Training Association, • Fair Food: From Field to Table, • “The Color of Food,” Applied Research Center, 2011, • “Green Jobs in a Sustainable Food System,” Green for All, 2011, green-jobs-in-a-sustainable-food-system. • Mary Bauer and Mónica Ramírez, “Injustice on Our Plates: Immigrant Women in the U.S. Food Industry,” Southern Poverty Law Center, 2010, injustice-on-our-plates. • “Unity for Dignity: Expanding the Right to Organize to Win Human Rights at Work,” The Excluded Workers Congress, 2010, • Rinku Sen and Fekkak Mamdouh, The Accidental American: Immigration and Citizenship in the Age of Globalization (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2008). • John Bowe, Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the Global Economy (New York: Random House, 2007). • Barry Estabrook, Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit (Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2011). • “The Harvest,” directed by U. Roberto Romano, 2011, • “Immokalee: A Story of Slavery and Freedom,” directed by Jeff Imig, 2004, www.mediarights. org/film/immokalee_a_story_of_slavery_and_freedom. 7. Inherit the Earth: Land Reform TAKE ACTION: • Participate in a local or global campaign against land grabs. Corporations are buying up agri- cultural land around the world as profit-making investments. Learn more about land grabs at or Be vigilant about the “developments” happen- ing in your community. • Get involved in supporting the Landless Rural Workers Movement of Brazil (MST) through the Friends of the MST (
  • 133. 128 • Support the Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform in collaboration with Grassroots International, Via Campesina, and the FoodFirst Information and Action Network ( • Support local land trusts to preserve land for community use. Land trusts are non-profits that conserve land, often for recreation, permanently affordable housing, or agricultural use ( • Land reform takes on a new meaning in the U.S. as banks foreclose on family homes and farms. U.S. Human Rights Network’s Take Back the Land Campaign organizes in eight cities to house people displaced by the destruction of public housing, foreclosures, and other means of forced eviction. For more information, visit their website or contact • Join the U.S. national call for a moratorium on all foreclosures and home evictions. Join or start a local campaign to protest evictions in your community. Visit the National Fair Housing Alliance website to learn more ( MORE ORGANIZATIONS AND RESOURCES: • Land Research Action Network, • Via Campesina and the international alliance against land grabbing, nch-of-international-alliance-against-land-grabbing&catid=23:agrarian-reform&Itemid=36. • International Alliance of Inhabitants, • Food Crisis and the Global Land Grab, • GRAIN, • Right to the City Alliance, • Slow Food page on land grabbing, • Peter Rosset, “Tide Shifts on Agrarian Reform: New Movements Show the Way,” Third World Traveler, • Peter Rosset, Raj Patel, and Michael Courville, eds. Promised Land: Competing Visions of Agrarian Reform (Oakland: Food First Books, 2006). • Sue Branford and Jan Rocha, Cutting the Wire: The Story of the Landless Movement in Brazil (London: Latin American Bureau, 2002). • Max Rameau, Take Back the Land: Land, Gentrification and the Umoja Village Shantytown (Miami: Nia Press Progressive Publishing, 2008). • Jaron Browne et al., Towards Land, Work & Power: Charting a Path of Resistance to U.S.-Led Imperialism (San Francisco: Unite to Fight Press, 2006). • Angus Wright and Wendy Wolford, To Inherit the Earth: The Landless Movement and the Struggle for a New Brazil (Oakland: Food First Books, 2003).
  • 134. 129 8. Homelands: Indigenous Territories and Sovereignty TAKE ACTION: • Join campaigns that fight for the sovereignty of indigenous peoples to protect and maintain their land and culture across the globe. Join the campaigns by: Via Campesina, Global Exchange, Survival International, Amazon Watch, • Support Native struggles in the U.S. The Indigenous Environmental Network at www.ienearth. org has information about their work on mining, energy, and other environmental issues, The Black Mesa Water Coalition is another inter-tribal group working to protect the rights of the earth and indigenous cultures, and promote leadership development and access to green jobs for youth. Find out how you can support their advocacy initiatives and campaigns ( • Stand with the native people of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and many other countries whose sovereignty is threatened by U.S. political, military, and/or corporate occupations. Explore the websites of solidarity organizations, join relevant listservs and give financial support to people’s efforts to maintain or reestablish sovereignty over their land and communities. Alliance for Global Justice’s U.S. Honduras Solidarity Network, Grassroots International (Middle East, Latin America, and Caribbean), Latin America Solidarity Coalition, Rights Action (Mesoamerica), Black Mesa Water Coalition organized a delegation to the 2010 U.S. Social Forum. Uranium mining on Native lands across the Southwest has poisoned water supplies and caused widespread illness. JihanGearon,BlackMesaWaterCoalition
  • 135. 130 Nicaragua Network, Venezuela Solidarity Network, Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala, Mexico Solidarity Network, Witness for Peace (Colombia, Mexico, Cuba, Honduras and Nicaragua), International Solidarity Movement (Palestine), Justice in Nigeria Now, • Hold film screenings in your community to educate people about the relationship between the products we use, multinational corporations, and the impacts on indigenous ways of life. Brainstorm ways to collectively engage in these campaigns. Check out “Cultures of Resistance,”, “Blue Gold: World Water Wars,” www.bluegold-worldwa-, and “Thirst,” MORE ORGANIZATIONS AND RESOURCES: • International Indian Treaty Council, • Indigenous Environmental Network, • Global Justice Ecology Project, • Juan Houghton and Beverly Bell, Indigenous Movements in Latin America, Center for Economic Justice, 2004, • Vandana Shiva, Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge (Boston: South End Press, 1997). • Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), The Sixth Declaration of the Lacondon Jungle (2005), • Jerry Mander and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, eds., Paradigm Wars: Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance to Globalization (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 2006). • “The Economics of Happiness,” directed by Helena Norberg-Hodge, Steven Gorelick, and John Page, 2011,
  • 136. 131 Authors  and  Contributors Co-Authors Beverly Bell has worked for more than three decades as an organizer, advocate, and writer in collaboration with social movements in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the U.S. Her focus areas are just economies; democratic participation; and political and economic rights for women, small farmers, and indigenous peoples. She serves as coordinator of Other Worlds and associate fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies. She is based in New Orleans. Tory Field is an organizer and farmer living in Hadley, Massachusetts. She is currently the Research and Education Coordinator at Other Worlds. Together with her partner, she runs Next Barn Over Farm, a 30-acre CSA vegetable farm. In past years she has been a community orga- nizer with Arise for Social Justice in Springfield, MA, and coordinator of a weekly program with women incarcerated in the Rhode Island state prison. Contributors Moira Birss works with Peace Brigades International’s Colombia human rights project from their Washington, D.C. office. Moira spent two years in Colombia as a Human Rights Accompanier with the Fellowship of Reconciliation. She has also researched community-based models of alternative economies, advocated for affordable housing, and promoted environmental protection. Lauren Elliott lives in New Orleans and works with Other Worlds as the Program Associate. In past years she organized for fair labor conditions on her college campus, co-created and facilitated a student-run course called Rethinking Development, and studied alternative devel- opment and sustainable agriculture in southern Mexico. Alexis Erkert is the Another Haiti is Possible Coordinator at Other Worlds. Based in Port-au- Prince, Alexis has worked as an advocate alongside the Haitian social movement since 2008. Prior to working with Other Worlds, she coordinated the Haiti Peace and Justice Advocacy Program for the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). Raised in West Africa, she has spent the majority of her life confronting issues of social, economic and environmental injustice.
  • 137. 132 Shilpa Jain is based in Berkeley, CA. She served as the Education and Outreach Coordinator for Other Worlds and is now the Executive Director of YES! For the last 13 years, she has worked with movements and networks committed to decolonization, innovative learning and unlearn- ing, healthy living, positive leadership, ecological balance, and creative communities. Sarah Laeng-Gilliatt has written and taught on economic localization, sustainable agriculture, spiritual economics, and Gandhian nonviolence since the mid-90’s. She was the food policy coordinator at the New Mexico Acequia Association and coordinated a food policy council in Northern New Mexico. She now lives in New Hampshire, where she plans to start a goat cheese business. Deepa Panchang is the Education and Outreach Coordinator at Other Worlds. Since the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, she has been involved in advocacy for human rights, particularly housing and health, for displaced Haitians living in camps. She has previously worked on community health projects in Nicaragua and India. Deepa’s academic background is in public health and economics, and she is passionate about bringing gender and economic justice perspectives to bear in the realms of global health, aid, and trade. Rachel Wallis is an artist and activist living in Chicago. She is the Communication and Events Manager at Crossroads Fund, and serves on the board of AREA Chicago. She used to serve as Other Worlds’ Education and Media Coordinator.
  • 138. 133 About  Other  Worlds Other Worlds is a women-driven, multi-media education and movement-building collaborative. We inspire hope and knowledge that other worlds are possible, and help build them. We compile and bring to light political, economic, and social alternatives that are flourishing throughout the world, and open up new pathways for the public throughout the Americas to adapt and integrate them. We also support the global movements that are propelling the alternatives. In the spirit of “Nothing about us without us,” Other Worlds relies on deep collaboration with economic and social justice movements and is accountable to them. All our research is participatory, conducted with people in the movements themselves. To get involved or learn more, visit us at; write to us at; or call us at 504-684.4895. About  the  U.S.  Food  Sovereignty  Alliance The U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance (USFSA) works to end poverty, rebuild local food econo- mies, and assert democratic control over the food system. USFSA believes all people have the right to healthy, culturally appropriate food, produced in an ecologically sound manner. As a U.S.-based alliance of food justice, anti-hunger, labor, environmental, faith-based, and food producer groups, the Alliance upholds the right to food as a basic human right and works to connect local and national struggles to the international movement for food sovereignty. To get involved or learn more, visit us at or write to 133