I’m writing from warm, sunny New Orleans, where 900 food justice activists attending the Community Food Security Coalition conference have just wrapped up five days of workshops, conversations and field trips to the region’s innovative and indomitable farmers, fisherfolk, urban gardeners, food workers and local organizers. These brave souls are—against all odds—reinventing healthy and sustainble food systems in their communities.
This Saturday, October 16, is World Food Day, a day on which to take action to end hunger — in one’s neighborhood, one’s country and around the world.
In the early dawn hours this Saturday, I’ll be riding a bus with dozens of other food justice activists headed first to a seafood cooperative and then to a local farmers’ cooperative in southern Mississippi. This is one of many exciting encounters that will be happening this weekend in connection with the Community Food Security Coalition’s annual conference in New Orleans (stay tuned for next week's posts from the field!).
This week our office is a-buzz with plans to join 350.org and thousands of people from more than 180 countries around the world in a Global Work Party to push back climate change. Some of us will be on a Food Justice Bike Tour in Oakland; others will be digging in at local community gardens in our neighborhoods. The thousands of actions that have been planned (over 6,800 so far) prove that the global community is ready to act, with or without leadership from our elected officials.
World leaders met in New York this week at the United Nations to assess progress in halving the proportion of hungry people in the world—the first of eight lofty Millenium Development Goals set by the UN in 2000.
One bit of good news you might have heard is that after the last couple of really disastrous years, we seem to be headed in a slightly better direction: the number of hungry people appears to be inching down, and at 925 million, is 98 million less than the 1.023 billion who were hungry last year. 98 million fewer hungry people is meaningful. But we are still talking about nearly a billion people without adequate food and nutrition—a far cry from the 1996 World Food Summit’s goals of reducing hunger to 400 million people by 2015. We’re basically back to where hunger levels were just before the big food price spikes of 2008. And here’s the real news: food prices are expected to surge again, as they already have in Mozambique and elsewhere, with disastrous consequences for the poor.
I'm just back from a week in Rio de Janeiro strategizing on the future of food with an amazing group of activists from Brazil, South Africa, India, the Philippines and Germany. The event was organized by PAN partner AS-PTA, Brazil’s lead NGO campaigning against agricultural GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and promoting agroecology as the better way forward. As an agroecologist myself, I was thrilled to be invited.
While in Rio, I was inspired by stories of courage, persistence and deep commitment. I talked with mothers and fathers, farmers, ecologists, agronomists, community organizers, health experts and human rights lawyers. Like many of us in the U.S., they are seeking to build healthy, safe, fair and sustainable food systems at home, and want more than anything to leave a healthy legacy for their children and for future generations.