After months of negotiations, the 2018 Farm Bill was just passed by the U.S. House and Senate. Next up? The bill is expected to be signed into law by the end of the week.
Christina Perez is a Latinx woman urban farmer working with in the Social Justice Learning Institute (SJLI) in Inglewood, Los Angeles. In addition to digging, planting and harvesting across seven different community and school garden project sites, Christina also puts together community supported agriculture (CSA) boxes for weekly and biweekly subscribers. The contents of each box are influenced by community member input, in an effort to ensure cultural relevance of the food. Christina uses a survey system to “see what [participants] need and try to match what we have to their needs.”
In 2016, California used almost a million pounds of the highly toxic, brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos. In November 2018, under pressure from communities around the state who have suffered health consequences of exposure to this pesticide, the state’s Department of Pesticide Regulations (DPR) announced guidelines to protect communities from it.
It’s hard to imagine how terrifying it must have been. Thirty-four years ago, families in Bhopal, India woke to toxic gas pouring over their city from a catastrophic leak at a Union Carbide pesticide plant. Somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 people died, and community activists have been fighting for justice ever since.
Without doubt, these are challenging times. Stepping back from the political turmoil that we see here and in the world around us, we are simultaneously confronted with evidence that climate change is fast unravelling the systems of the natural world that have evolved over millennia to create a habitable planet.
For the second year in a row, California is experiencing unprecedented devastation and loss brought about by fires, ripping through communities in both the northern and southern regions of the state.
However, in the midst of destruction and hardship, people have been stepping up for each other in inspiring ways. Numerous online donation platforms have been set up, businesses and organizations are collecting food, clothing and other material donations, and helping hands are coming from many directions.
With 435 House and 35 Senate races on the ballot last week, the 2018 midterms were closely watched across the nation – not least of all by advocates of sustainable agriculture.
On Halloween, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made a truly scary announcement -- the agency decided to continue its registration of Monsanto’s (now merged with Bayer) highly controversial dicamba-based herbicide, Xtendimax. The chemical has damaged millions of acres of farmland over the past two seasons of use, and with this decision, the devastation will continue.
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.
Rubie Simonsen is the 28 year old Filipino-American farmer behind First Mother Farms. Her property, located in Yuba County, was inherited by Rubie and her sister after their grandmother’s passing. This beloved and fertile legacy, never having been under agricultural production, will now become a small-scale lavender farm, a healing space of spiritual and intellectual richness, and an embodiment of an accumulation of acquired knowledge, resources, experiences and culture.