• 98% of RURAL LAND in the United States is owned by white individuals and families. The disproportionate ownership is at the expense of the Black and Indigenous people who were displaced or lost land due to discriminatory practices; such practices continue today. For Black farmers in particular, the deprivation of land contributes to generational cycles of poverty and is a central cause to the economic disparities prevalent today.
• CONSOLIDATION & CONCENTRATION strains rural agricultural economies. Some of the highest rates of hunger in the United States exist within predominately white rural communities. The ‘get big or get out’ doctrine often strains and/or puts small and medium size farms out of business. Additionally, the consolidation of infrastructure often leaves regional processing facilities obsolete, making it difficult for small and medium size farmers to process, transport and market their products, within their region, in an economically sustainable way.
• HARMFUL FARMING PRACTICES contribute to the ill treatment of soil, watersheds, and animal husbandry. The excessive use of chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics, and the production of commodity mono-crops has lead to serious ecological degradation: loss of habitat, ecosystems and biodiversity, polluted water and air, soil erosion and nutrient depletion, and climate change. Consequently, human health issues result: chronic disease, food and farmworker injury, and emotional distress.
• WORKER’S RIGHTS are often threatened through out the food supply chain. Food workers, and farmworkers in particular, can be subject to harsh and exploitive working conditions such as forced labor, discriminatory hiring practices, substandard wages, and a growing epidemic of sexual assault.
• LOSS OF CONNECTION and relationship between citizens and the people who grow, catch and produce food. Most people do not know where their food is grown or caught, and under what conditions. The loss of connection produces an unfamiliarity with seasonality, true taste and flavor, and the skills of growing, processing, preserving and cooking.
In order to understand why transforming the industrialized food system is important, it helps to start with the gravity of its impact. Although the current food system is complex, it is generally agreed upon that it contributes to our biggest societal challenges; human and ecological health, economic disparity, racial injustice, food insecurity, food loss and waste, and it lives
next to carbon emissions as a leading cause of climate change.
It is rooted in stolen land from Indigenous peoples, and the enslavement of African Americans, and it continues to exploit,
all the while not fulfilling its promise to nourish and equitably feed a growing global population. So,
we don’t have a choice but to transform. The United Nations states that they will not meet their 17 Sustainable
Development Goals unless we transform the food system.
What does transformation of the food system mean?
I share the perspective of many food justice advocates that transformation is about dismantling mindsets and practices rooted in colonization, and joining together, on the continuum of knowledge that uplifts practices that are balanced and life generating. Many solutions come from the Indigenous communities that have been passed on through the generations. This moment in time is calling on all of us to remember our own ancestral wisdom, in order to co-facilitate this transformation.
How do we foster transformation and change?
We first bring awareness to the gravity problem, and educate ourselves on its history and the implications on
our present day and on future generations.
Another element is connection. It is important to step back and connect dots, understand the intersections, it helps to connect
to ourselves, and evaluate the ways in which we, as individuals, participate in this faulty system. There is nothing more powerful than connecting to each other. There is a tremendous amount of excellent work happening! The more we cultivate relationships and ways to support one another and collaborate, the more fulfilling this process will be.
Why transform the food system?
The solutions hold great potential to re-weave a just and resilient
food web that reflects place + culture.
We envision a food system that equitably nourishes everyone and functions as
regionalfood cultures rooted in relationships, meaningful story, and a sense of place.
The following VISION WHEEL highlights some of our ideas.
We would love to hear yours!
~ THE INDUSTRIAL FOOD SYSTEM ~