Tanya Fields is a woman who inspires me these days.
Her work with the BLK ProjeK is the kind that empowers people and communities - in particular, underserved women of colour - to take back control of this broken food system and lead with the change they want to see.
It was because of this type of food movement work, most likely, that she was invited, and then uninvited to be a featured speaker at TedXManhattan: Changing the way we eat. Her organzing on good food and food jobs in the Bronx is bringing hundreds together while creating positive change. It shows the difference a person can make while giving it what you've got, and developing some skills and ideas with the community.
An open letter from Tanya to the organizers regarding the dis-invite was when the issue and Tanya's work came to my attention. An apology and reconcilitation note later came, with the hope of focusing on stronger attention to issues of food justice and race using a critical lense. A food movement that doesn't focus on realities of economies, poverty, racism, or privilege isn't much of a movement at all.
Their vision for a way forward could in fact be a model for those working in Toronto as well:
"The consequences of and responses to this action have provided a powerful message about how fundamental issues of race, representation, cultural divide and fear affect our work and must be addressed, respectfully and honestly... We are determined to harness the power and commitment that was so clearly expressed and use it as fuel for positive solutions as we move forward."
After the invitation was revoked, Tanya went ahead to organize an event Not Just Talk: Food in the South Bronx, at the same time as TEDxManhattan. Organizers of each, however, will now be attending each others' events and sharing dialogue.
So here in Toronto, Lettuce Connect with the Academy of the Impossible is co-hosting a viewing party of the Ted talks on Saturday February 16th - there I'll say a few words on my learning on the ability to likewise expand food justice work in Toronto. Meanwhile, we have the Live Stream details from Tanya to view Not Just Talk from the winterty comfort of home. Both run all day, and it should be easy to catch some of either or both events.
Our food connections and diverse work need strong community roots.
Check out the details of these events, as well as Canadian Organic Growers' conference the same day, and let's all have a weekend of practical learning together.
Darcy Higgins, Executive Director of Food Forward can be reached at email@example.com
Learn about the Growing Food & Justice Initiative .
Celebrating Soupstock, we're remembering the impact of Foodstock, as well as thinking about the impact that a united food movement of the scale we're enjoying in Woodbine Park could make in creating the type of food system we envision.
Please enjoy and share this re-posted blog.
If there’s something big we learned from our province’s 30,000+ person contribution to World Food Day – FoodStock – it’s that Ontarians (both urban and rural folk) strongly value our farmland, local food jobs, and the delicious dishes we make from it all.
This shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Not long ago, we didn’t have the type of food culture and economy we do today. Indeed, we had many more farmers. But it’s unlikely we would have found tens of thousands to make the trek out to a chilly farm to make a donation, enjoy good grub and take a stand on local food.
In the past, a proposal for a giant open-pit mine would have brought out environmentalists concerned about water quality and land degradation with locals worried about the threats to their community. And while those from the affected area have again led the charge, they have today found their broadest support from a burgeoning movement who consider food reasons the primary ones in which to put their booted feet down.
And while foodies had an enjoyable protest demanding their voices be heard against an American hedge fund buying up land for the mega quarry, another type of foodie joined forces with Occupy to set up camp in Toronto, Ottawa, Windsor and many other cities for many of the same underlying reasons.
The present system has led to the ability of corporations, speculators and hedge funds to make growing profits from higher food prices, land ownership and destruction of the commons, while farmland loss, levels of food bank use and atmospheric carbon continue to skyrocket. As the food movement grows, links are being made among issues, from farm work to urban poverty, as are the connections within their common causes and potential solutions.
Farmland protection is but one issue to which a busy movement must keep its attention focused. The “stop the mega quarry” team has the strength behind it to be a winning one. To halt the loss of farmland once and for all, this large group must also lend its attention to ongoing local battles , no matter the jurisdiction, and demand new plans to expand and strengthen the Greenbelt and make provincial legislation win ahead of gas plants, mines and sprawl.
But it also needs to create new winning alliances with farmers, farm workers and food processors to create policies that work for all different parts of the chain. The Greenbelt, though good for the land, hasn’t brought much benefit in and of itself to the farmers. It should also look to whom good food must feed and connect with those poorly nourished by the present food system.
A mix of good ideas (currently proposed by Sustain Ontario and its partners) could help farmers feed cities, while helping to counter the economic forces that make it valuable for farmers to sell their land.
A movement of tens of thousands will not only shift the political tide on an issue. It can, if well-organized, demand the democratic and policy changes that will preserve farmland, and create programs to create good jobs (and to better the existing ones) that could feed local, sustainable Ontario food to all.
The cue has come from the food sovereignty and food democracy movements of the Global South, to take the food power back from the towers of greed, and into the hands of the people.
With newly elected governments, local and global sentiments for change and a food movement burgeoning onto the scene, there could not be a better time to draw a line in our land, raise our voice and say what we stand for.
We're harvesting a great line-up and wanted to share events we are sponsoring for October 2nd, as well as save the date for World Food Day, the evening of October 16th for a major event with Chef Michael Stadtlander and other community food advocates, entrepreneurs, and government, as we head towards Soupstock and the introduction of a strong Local Food Act.
As part of Social Justice Week at Ryerson University, a pair of events will aim to create a conversation with some of our friends in food and labour activism, with a focus on justice for migrant workers.
A lunch and learn from 12-2pm in Thomas Lounge, Oakham House, will have representatives from Justicia for Migrant Workers, the Agricultural Workers Alliance, Toronto Food Policy Council, and Food Secure Canada, with special guests, to Peruvian migrant workers who survived the tragic accident that killed ten workers in February of this year.
A participatory workshop, "Building Alliances for Sustainable Food and Just Labour" will take place to continue the dialogue, between 2:30-5pm. We welcome our members and friends interested in these issues to bring a critical dialogue.
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. We particularly welcome young people and those from immigrant and racialized communities to attend.
In the evening, we are pleased to be sponsoring a much anticipated screening of Crackdown! Included will be a panel discussion with Matthew Bailey-Dick (Waterloo Hen Association), Chris Schafer (Canadian Constitution Foundation), Dr. Barry Pakes (public health, ER and primate care physician), Anonymous Toronto chicken keeper, Carolyn Young (Sustain Ontario), Jan Keck (film maker). Tickets are available on Eventbrite.
Please mark down World Food Day downtown for our biggest event yet, more details next week. Take a look below for Global Food Equity Events around World Food Day in October.