In the food movement, people often talk about the importance of “voting” with your dollars. While it's true that smart consumer choices can help build a healthier food system, policies and politics matter too. And often much more.
As these past two years have clearly shown, who’s in charge makes a difference. Next Tuesday’s election is hugely important in so many ways, including having very real impacts on the future of food — and the people who grow and eat it. Your vote matters.
Vote, please. And then...
Of course a functioning democracy requires much more than voting. It requires all of us to be informed and engaged, to participate in public discussions and decisions about the issues we care about most.
Among other things, this kind of engagement means overcoming the “government is bad” story that’s so aggressively promoted by corporations as they lobby for rollbacks of the most basic public health and environmental protections.
Our Iowa-based board member Kamyar Enshayan explains it well in an opinion piece in the Des Moines Register earlier this year. He argues that polluting industries want us to believe that government is inefficient and wasteful, “a parasite to take your liberties away,” so they can be free to pollute as they wish.
What I find amazing is that we have allowed ourselves to forget the most prized ideal of our nation — self governance — and have fallen for the falsehood that organizing ourselves to serve ourselves is bad."
Meanwhile, corporations know exactly how to organize to serve themselves. EPA’s controversial reversal of the planned ban of chlorpyrifos at the behest of Dow Chemical (now “Corteva”) is one recent example of many.
Taking power back
If there’s a silver lining to the current political climate, it’s the widespread recognition that elections really do have consequences (aha!), and that our engagement in political life more broadly is important.
This ramped-up engagement is already having an impact. We’ve seen very real, important victories as communities fight for — and win — progress toward a better food system, like the chlorpyrifos ban in Hawai’i and concrete support for farmer justice in California.
I’m especially inspired by new efforts to strengthen political leadership among food and farm justice activists. From the the Women, Food and Agriculture Network’s Plate to Politics program in Iowa to the national School of Political Leadership recently launched by our friends at the HEAL Food Alliance, our movement is busy creating tomorrow’s leaders. This gives me hope.
As I noted in my pre-election blog in 2016,
If democracy is going to work, it's time to get corporate money out of politics. And democratizing the food system is a great place to start."
So please, if you’re eligible, make the time to vote next Tuesday — use the tool below to get info about your polling place if you need it. As Kamyar says, it’s time to get back to “organizing ourselves to serve ourselves,” and voting is a good first step.