Food and Faith is a blog of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.
I was blessed with an eight-week extended study leave spanning from January 19, when I pointed myself in the direction of India, until March 17, when I landed back in about-to-bloom Louisville. Part of the eight weeks in India and Sri Lanka was meeting Presbyterian Hunger Program Joining Hands partners and learning about their efforts to strengthen their food sovereignty. Part was immersing myself in this ancient/modern, spiritual/material land to learn from the people how they navigate and stay healthy in a rapidly changing world, and to rejuvenate myself as I celebrate 16 years of service to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
This page is designed to help you virtually travel with me. You will find my crazy route, photo galleries, videos and reports. All are found on this Interactive Map and they are also listed below. Click on this link or the map to open it in another window.
Valley Verde (Green Valley) is located in the Santa Clara Valley in California. PHP provided a first-time grant to them for their work in 2013 to address poverty and food insecurity among vulnerable California residents living in low-income neighborhoods in Gilroy and San Jose. Most of the participants are recent immigrants. Valley Verde provides everything they need to establish organic home gardens and the residents take it from there with support and guidance from mentors throughout the year. Here is Esperanza's story.
Esperanza, a mother of two children pictured here, is growing healthy food for her family.
Back in her home country Esperanza wanted to have a career. She went to college and studied business. When her husband decided to move to the US in search of better employment opportunities, Esperanza didn't want to follow him. But then she realized that staying alone with her daughters didn't feel right. About a year ago, she moved to the US to join her husband. At the beginning, she struggled to find a sense of community and to access healthy food for her family.
But that changed when she learned about the gardening program provided by Valley Verde. Esperanza had never gardened before, but her daughters were so enthusiastic about the program that she decided to take a chance. Valley Verde helped her plant a garden and taught her how to take care of it.
Esperanza now has two beautiful garden beds, and she is able to provide high-quality, organic vegetables to her children. The garden has helped Esperanza's family economically because she no longer has to purchase some vegetables from the store. As importantly, Esperanza feels less lonely, is active and is engaging with others in the community.
"My garden really helped me to feel better and less lonely. I see how my plants are growing and changing every day and I feel good about growing my own food. I haven't bought lettuce or cabbage for the last four months" (Esperanza, 2013).
New Seed Survey Report Highlights Privatization Concerns
The U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance today released A Preliminary Report on Seeds and Seeds Practices across the US in celebration of La Via Campesina's International Day of Farmers' Struggles in Defense of Peasants' and Farmers' Seeds – April 17.
The report is based on surveys of seed savers and seed advocates from around the United States. It documents who saves seeds, as well as why, where and which ones. Responses reveal that many growers save and share seeds to produce healthy food, preserve their cultural heritage, and to defy efforts by transnational agribusinesses to privately patent and monopolize control of seeds.
The report is especially pertinent during 2014, the International Year of Family Farming, as designated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Based on the surveys and the Call to Action of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance, the report provides individual, community, national and international action recommendations aimed at defending seeds from privatization and preserving them for the common good.
As a member of the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance, the Presbyterian Hunger Program, a ministry of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), joins in presenting this report in solidarity with La Via Campesina in its global efforts to defend food and seed sovereignty. The report is available to read at usfoodsovereigntyalliance.org and on our website at pcusa.org/food.
For more information:
Andrew Kang Bartlett, Presbyterian Hunger Program, PC(USA) – 502.569.5388
Devika Ghai, Pesticide Action Network North America – 415.728.0169
Lisa Griffith, National Family Farm Coalition – 773.319.583
Charity Hicks, East Michigan Environmental Action Council – 313.725.0554
Sara Mersha, Grassroots International – 617.524.1400
"Thanksgiving Schmanksgiving! There's nothing to be thankful about when it comes to food," complains Stanley the Stinkbug. "It's either a factory-farmed turkey or an organic turkey I can't afford? What a choice!
Sometimes the situation can seem dismal with hunger on the rise, food deserts, pesticide corporations buying up seed companies, and diet-related disease," drones Stanley. "The smelly list goes on and on, and people don't give a hoot! Just a bunch of couch potatoes watching sports all day."
"Stanley, you may be watching too much network news," replies Chris Carrot. "People all over the country and planet are working together to build food economies that are fair and more sustainable -- while supporting nearby farmers! These stories just don't make the big headlines."
Chris continues, "Neighborhood leaders and groups are bringing fresh, local food to their communities, Stanley. These are initiatives to be thankful about! One Great Hour of Sharing gifts help fund a program in Oregon to train immigrant families in farming skills at Huerto de la Familia. In Louisville, one initiative has turned teens into ambassadors of fresh produce and another holds food justice classes and brings in local produce for Fresh Stop markets in their lower-income neighborhoods."
"New initiatives are dealing with all the food waste in our system. Students are demanding better and fairer food in their cafeterias. And watch the video of the first nonprofit supermarket just opened in Pennsylvania. It's an oasis in a food desert," added Chris.
"Yeah, yeah, a few random examples." growls Stanley. "What about the advertising that food corporations bombard us with everyday? Have you seen Anna Lappé's brand-new Food Mythbuster video, "The Myth of Choice: How Junk-Food Marketers Target Our Kids"? It's terrifying. All you've described doesn't amount to an ant hill."
"No, Stanley, it's happening everywhere," exclaims Chris! "Presbyterian camps and conference centers around the country are smelling the roses of food justice! Ghost Ranch has revived its farm, Stony Point is producing veggies all over their campus and is putting in a greenhouse as we speak. Joseph Badger Meadows Camp and Eastminster Presbytery in Ohio is establishing a working farm and training program, right on their land!" gushes the Carrot. "And how does a cattail stir-fry sound? A new movement among Native Americans is bringing back traditional foods and changing lives!" continues Chris.
"Okay. Not bad, but what about global hunger? Those giant free trade agreements will make it even tougher for family-scale farmers?"
"Yes, we need to advocate to halt Fast Track and call for transparency and fairness in the Trans-Pacific Partnership to protect farmers overseas," say Chris "Luckily, policy makers are beginning to admit that export-oriented cash crop farming is not the answer to ending poverty. In fact, research shows that it is small farms that are the key to creating global food security!
Presbyterians can support great agricultural development by giving to the Presbyterian Hunger Fund and by funding great projects through the Food Resources Bank in Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. And we have La Via Campesina and food sovereignty movements around the world -- such as the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa and the US Food Sovereignty Alliance — to thank for building strong coalitions to resist injustice and build just and sustainable food economies everywhere!"
"Very impressive!" admits Stanley. "And as for the turkey, my farmer neighbor is actually giving me a free-range turkey in exchange for my promise to stay out of her vegetables. Come on over at 3:00."
That evening I sat on my front porch and stared at my green grass and budding bushes. I wanted to throw a 2 year old style tantrum, of not understanding why the world was so unfair. I was ready to take control of my food system. I was ready to get back to the dirt and simpler times. I was ready to turn my yard into a demonstration of how to do so. But for reasons beyond my control, I could not.
How was it that the ecological revolution I saw budding in myself and my backyard was so easily derailed by the previous industrial one of my predecessors?...
“From dust you were made, and to dust you will return.”
Our bodies were created of earth; they are sustained by what we intake, which is grown by, or feeds off the earth; and ultimately we will return to the earth.
I wonder however, if the modern world version of the phrase should be, “From fossil fuels you are made, to them you cannot return”
The “Land and Food Sovereignty” Study Session, sponsored by Agricultural Missions, Inc., is part of a National Rural Gathering on Land, Water, Energy and Food, together with the Rural Coalition and other allies. Dates: June 22-26, 2011 (Wednesday through a...
All people have the right to decide what they eat and to ensure that food in their community is healthy and accessible for everyone. This is the basic principle behind food sovereignty. If you want to support domestic food security through the production of healthy food at a fair price, and you believe that family farmers and fishers should have the first right to local and regional markets, then food sovereignty is for you. via www.grassrootsonline.org FS-Booklet-Cover-2010 This excellent booklet is now available in Spanish (plus English and Portuguese!). Share it with your friends and family. Put it on your bulletin board at work. Read it to your children for a bedtime story... What are the connections to our faith values? To our commitment to end hunger? Read Turning the Tables: People First and The Daily Bread by two theologians from Brazil for their reflections on these questions. Learn more about food sovereignty and consider organizational membership in the US Food Sovereignty Alliance. Congregations may join too! Click here to go the USFSA website.
Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations. It defends the interests and inclusion of the next generation. It offers a strategy to resist and dismantle the current corporate trade and food regime, and directions for food, farming, pastoral and fisheries systems determined by local producers. Food sovereignty prioritises local and national economies and markets and empowers peasant and family farmer-driven agriculture, artisanal - fishing, pastoralist-led grazing, and food production, distribution and consumption based on environmental, social and economic sustainability. Food sovereignty promotes transparent trade that guarantees just income to all peoples and the rights of consumers to control their food and nutrition. It ensures that the rights to use and manage our lands, territories, waters, seeds, livestock and biodiversity are in the hands of those of us who produce food. Food sovereignty implies new social relations free of oppression and inequality between men and women, peoples, racial groups, social classes and generations.
Here are some great ways to stay abreast of this critical legislative work -- Farm Policy, a daily newsletter about food and farm policy. Sign up for the email service and you’ll receive everything you need to know about what’s going on in D.C. It’s a ton of information, but worth skimming each morning. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s blog. The Presbyterian Hunger Program has been supporting this excellent coalition for over a decade. The Farm Bill and Beyond, an outstanding and very comprehensive report about how the 2008 Farm Bill came to be. It’s a little long, but definitely worth reading if you want some insight on how the next fight will play out. The blogs and twitter feeds of healthy farm advocates like @FoodDeclaration, Environmental Working Group, Food Democracy Now and Grist. And the soon-to-be launched US Food Sovereignty Alliance will have great analysis and ways to engage. Contact Andrew to learn how you can get involved in the Alliance. Thanks to Slow Food USA +++++++++++++ So, what are everyday people and farmers saying what they want from our food and farm policy?
Since the food crisis of 2008, food justice activists have warned that governments in concert with multinational corporations have accelerated a worldwide "land grab" to buy up vast swaths of arable land in poor countries. According to The Economist magazine, between 37 to 49 million acres of farmland were put up for sale in deals involving foreign nationals between 2006 and mid-2009. A friend pointed out how the land grabbing going on now is nothing new to what Native American, Hispanic and Black farmers and communities have faced for centuries. The current scale of the land grabs is tremendous. Take a look at what is happening in this good interview of Anuradha Mittal -- executive director of the Oakland Institute and keynote speaker at past PC(USA) conferences -- by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!