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Forum Post: "The Awakening That's Happening": Local, Sustainable Food

Posted 9 years ago on June 9, 2013, 6:14 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5909)
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"The Awakening That's Happening": Local, Sustainable Food

Sunday, 09 June 2013 00:00 By Tory Field and Beverly Bell, Other Worlds | Harvesting Justice Series

http://truth-out.org/news/item/16853-the-awakening-thats-happening-local-sustainable-food

“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 has sparked the revival of local, sustainable food systems.

At its most basic, sustainability connotes a system capable of continuing indefinitely without compromising future life. Sustainability is also sometimes described as a three-legged stool: in order to be balanced, it must sit equally on sturdy legs of economics, environment, and equity. A food system contributes to community sustainability if it is economically viable for small farmers; nourishing of the earth and elements; and socially equitable for all involved, including farm and food workers and consumers.

Examples in the movement to create local, sustainable food systems are virtually endless. Here are just a few:

  • Community gardens are sprouting up everywhere, with an estimated 18,000 in the US and Canada. In most cases, members rent a small plot for a modest fee. These patchwork-quilt gardens, primarily in urban areas, provide a local food source, build community relationships, beautify the neighborhood, and give more people the opportunity to eat homegrown food.

  • Educational gardening projects give children and teens the opportunity to get their hands dirty and learn about growing 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 jelly, 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 shelter, and an elder care facility.

Deborah Habib, director of Seeds of Solidarity, said, “Every person is capable of helping 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 by cultivating the earth and cultivating foods.”

  • 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 purchases. “We’ve gone from 95 percent processed foods to 95 percent made from scratch,” said chef Ann Cooper. To help allay the higher food costs associated with this program, the school system has gotten bulk discounts from farmers and processors, sources a significant amount of fresh produce from school-sponsored gardens, and uses federal reimbursements from the USDA as well as sales to students. There are now farm-to-school programs involving 12,429 schools in 50 states.

  • Real Food Challenge is working to shift $1 billion worth of college and university food purchases towards local, sustainable, 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 purchasing 20% “real food” by 2020. They host leadership trainings and events, provide materials and other organizing support, and have developed a Real Food Calculator to help track institutional food purchasing. They define real food as “food which truly nourishes producers, consumers, communities and the earth. It is a food system – from seed to plate – that fundamentally respects human dignity and health, animal welfare, social justice and environmental sustainability.”

  • A sad joke goes: If your illness doesn’t kill you in 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 country that are part of a growing network of farm-to-hospital programs. Four hundred and forty-four hospitals in the US have signed a pledge, organized by the group Health Care without Harm, to offer more fruits and vegetables, as well as locally grown, fair-trade, and pesticide- and hormone free food. Some hospitals also host on-site farmers’ markets, plant gardens, and compost food scraps.

  • Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) creates 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 fluctuations of the market. By cutting out the middle-people, members have a more 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 US and the world. Since its introduction in the US in the l980s, the model has expanded to over 12,500 farms. In some rural areas, members pick up their share at the farm itself, while in cities, farmers drop off boxes of produce at distribution sites. The CSA model is now being used not only for vegetables but also for many 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 US Department of Agriculture increased 400 percent. They now number over 7,800. Markets are also vibrant community 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 long distances traveled by their grocery store counterparts.

  • 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 bargaining power in the marketplace. They allow producers to pay discounted prices by buying in bulk; lower their transportation 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 2,200 farmer, ranch, and fishery co-ops in the US, with a combined business volume of $213.4 billion. One small-scale example is Moo 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.

Download the Harvesting Justice pdf here, and find action items, resources, and a popular education curriculum on the Harvesting Justice website. Harvesting Justice was created for the US Food Sovereignty Alliance, check out their work here.

Read more from Other Worlds here, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Copyleft Other Worlds. You may reprint this article in whole or in part. Please credit any text or original research you use to Tory Field and Beverly Bell, Other Worlds.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

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[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5909) 9 years ago

Top Ten Reasons to Legalize Marijuana Now

Sunday, 09 June 2013 00:00 By Carmen Yarrusso, Truthout | Op-Ed

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/16798-top-ten-reasons-to-legalize-marijuana-now

  1. Hemp benefits are denied. Hemp can be made into paper, paneling, plastics, clothing and thousands of other useful products. The highly nutritious seeds can be used to make flour, cooking oil and cattle feed.

This environmentally friendly plant grows without herbicides, nourishes the soil, matures quickly and provides high yields. It's the number-one biomass producer in the world - ten tons per acre in four months. It could be an excellent fuel-producing crop.

Hemp, "nature's perfect plant," could bring a bonanza to hurting American farmers while greatly reducing America's dependence on fossil fuels, which could significantly mitigate climate change.

  1. Prohibition diverts billions from the needy. More than 50 government agencies feed at the drug war trough. Food stamps and other social programs are being slashed while billions are spent trying to stop adults from using marijuana.

  2. Prohibition is clearly counterproductive. Guaranteeing massive profits to anyone on earth who can produce and deliver marijuana to our streets cannot do anything but assure that even more will be produced and delivered.

  3. Criminalizing marijuana lacks moral justification. A real crime implies a victim and a perpetrator. Can you imagine being jailed for robbing yourself? As insane as this sounds, our government has done the equivalent by making adult use of marijuana a crime. Only a depraved, corrupt government could invent a crime you commit against yourself.

  4. Marijuana users are not debased human beings. Cultures throughout history - and pre-history! - have altered their minds with a variety of drugs. Billions around the world derive positive benefits from mind-altering drugs (especially from alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and marijuana).

Demonizing and criminalizing some drugs, while approving others without rational criteria, is clearly arbitrary and deceitful. Why are marijuana users criminals while alcohol and tobacco users are not? Why are marijuana dealers demonized, but alcohol and tobacco dealers are not?

  1. Marijuana is effective medicine. There's overwhelming evidence that marijuana can safely relieve pain, nausea and vomiting caused by various illnesses. In fact, marijuana is patently safer than many commonly prescribed drugs.

  2. Promising medical research is thwarted. The discovery of naturally occurring marijuana-like substances in the human body that activate so-called cannabinoid receptors has opened up vast possibilities for new medicines derived from the 66 or so cannabinoids identified in marijuana. These receptors are not just in the brain, but also found in many other parts of the body including the immune, endocrine and reproductive systems.

  3. Billions in potential taxes go to drug cartels. Our cash-strapped states are being cheated out of billions that could be obtained by taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol.

  4. Thousands of prohibition murders occur each year. Mexico is the world's largest exporter of marijuana (most goes to the United States). There were at least 24,000 prohibition-related murders in Mexico since 2006. Thousands more died here, also a direct result of marijuana prohibition.

  5. Prohibition denies our most basic human right. Prohibition takes away our right of sovereignty over our own bodies and gives this power to government. Does any other human right make sense if we don't have sovereignty over our own bodies?

There's a word for people who don't have sovereignty over their own bodies: slaves.

The Glaring Truth About the Drug War

The drug war is a blatantly dishonest, extremely expensive, highly destructive, grossly unjust, abject failure of our government. Despite 40 years and $1 trillion-plus of taxpayer money spent trying to stop - not robbery, not rape, not murder, not even shoplifting - but mostly trying to stop adults from using marijuana; despite draconian punishments; despite jailing millions of nonviolent Americans; despite thousands of prohibition-related murders each year, illegal drugs are cheaper, purer and more readily available than ever. The drug war is a vast government scam guaranteed to be perpetually futile. Prohibition only pretends to fight drugs. In fact, it guarantees massive profits to anyone on the planet who can produce and deliver prohibited drugs to our streets.

Jailing drug dealers just creates lucrative job openings for more efficient, more ruthless, eager replacements. Only a small percentage of illegal drugs are intercepted, and these are easily and cheaply replaced.

Prohibition creates, sustains and handsomely rewards the illegal drug industry while pretending to fight that very same industry. Like the classic mafia protection racket, our government creates a perpetual problem and then charges us exorbitantly to "protect" us from it.

This abomination continues unabated because our government is addicted to the taxpayer billions it wastes year after year after year pretending to fight an enemy created and sustained by prohibition itself.

Marijuana is the linchpin of the drug war. Legalizing marijuana will sound the death knell for this devastating crime against humanity.

Copyright, Truthout.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 9 years ago

"Prohibition denies our most basic human right. Prohibition takes away our right of sovereignty over our own bodies and gives this power to government. Does any other human right make sense if we don't have sovereignty over our own bodies?"

"There's a word for people who don't have sovereignty over their own bodies: slaves."


1.Barring violation to the rights of others, the right of a free people to be secure in their individual decisions of personal safety, ingestion, expression, activity, association, and property, shall not be violated without due process of law.

http://occupywallst.org/forum/free-democracy-amendment/

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 8 years ago

What have the world's biggest food companies got to do with land grabs? More than you might think.

Please sign the petition today!

Stop Land Grabs for Sugar Production take action please share it helps!

share on facebook share on twitter share via email

In Brazil and Cambodia, companies that supply sugar to Coke and Pepsi have robbed farmers of their rights and kicked them off their land. Associated British Foods (ABF), the largest sugar producer in Africa, is reportedly linked to a range of other unresolved land disputes.

Whole communities have lost their main sources of food and income. Call on Coke, Pepsi, and ABF to make sure their sugar doesn't lead to land grabs .

These companies hold significant influence over the sugar industry. And they care about what you think. So stand up and urge these companies to protect the rights of farmers around the world.

care2

Thanks for spreading the word,

Eric A. Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team


I added:

Farm Land should be for growing FOOD to feed people - farm land should not be used for non-nutritional/negative nutritional value for the population. Farm Land should most definitely - NOT - be taken away from producing food in food needy villages towns cities countries. To remove food crops from the needy is a crime against humanity.