2009 Annual Report

Food First | 04.01.2010

In Brief—Food First’s Accomplishments of 2009 and Plans for 2010

Food Rebellions! Crisis and the Hunger for Justice, written by Eric Holt-Giménez and Raj Patel with Annie Shattuck, is being presented by its authors throughout the U.S., Europe and Central America. To view videos of issues covered in this Food First book, go to www.foodfirst.org and click on VIMEO in the left hand column.

In 2010, we will continue to promote Food Rebellions!, exposing the roots of hunger and poverty and promoting the changes needed to transform our food systems. Food First is also working within U.S. based coalitions including the Community Food Security Coalition (http://www.foodsecurity.org/), the U.S. Working Group on the Food Crisis (http://usfoodcrisisgroup.org/), and the newly-formed anti-trust coalition, “Bust the Trust” (bustthetrust.org). The Bust the Trust campaign encourages citizens to participate in the public hearings held by the Department of Justice (with the USDA) to look at the impact of monopolies in the seed, dairy, meat, and grain industries. Food First has been working tirelessly to amplify the voices of both farmers and consumers in this debate, and to hold agribusiness accountable for their role in the global food crisis, the destruction of family farms, and the epidemic of diet-related diseases affecting the country. Food First is working to strengthen the growing food movement by helping to set up a food justice tent at the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit this coming June. Join us to share in the lessons learned and hear of the exiting strategies being implemented by local food activists in communities across the country and around the world!

In 2009 Food First developed tools for classrooms and community events designed to inform upcoming immigration reform discussions. Caminos: The Immigrant’s Trail is a 20-minute DVD with a companion study guide that engages viewers of all ages. Beyond the Fence: A Journey to the Roots of the Migration Crisis combines a travelogue with 15 background fact sheets and a Guide to Action. As public debate heats up, Food First will be using these materials to insert some fact-based reality into the discourse on immigration reform. Next we plan to make shorter vignettes of the DVD footage available on YouTube and social networking sites.

The Oakland Food Policy Council, an “incubation” project of Food First that will soon spin off as an independent organization, held its first meeting with a fully-seated council in September 2009. Now, they are drafting their strategic plan with widespread citizen input. With seven active committees, the council is setting priorities for action in 2010-11. To provide a solid footing for this new organization, Food First published “Food Policy Councils: Lessons Learned” presented for the first time at the 2009 Community Food Security Coalition annual meeting in Des Moines, Iowa.

Food First’s community-based work is sometimes under the public radar, but no less important to share with you. We are helping indigenous communities in the Mexican Farmer to Farmer movement restore pollinator diversity through a series of handson workshops funded by the CS Fund. Incorporating native pollinator habitat increases yields for small farmers while restoring a resilient healthy agroecosystem. We have also been working with farmer co-ops in Vicente Guerrero, Mexico on a business plan to develop local markets for local corn, non-GMO tortillas, and year-round fresh produce. Following the earthquake in Haiti, we have been working with Grassroots International to help Haitian farmer organizations provide food and employment to earthquake victims.

In 2009 The Nation magazine published a Food First exposé of the Gates Foundation’s support for industrial agriculture and genetically-engineered crops in Africa. The article was based on our on-the ground campaign work with the farmer’s organizations and women’s groups advancing the “We are the solution!” campaign. These small-scale farmers are advancing African agroecological alternatives in the face of the corporate-led take-over of African agriculture.

In 2010 we continue to amplify grassroots African voices in the policy debate abroad and here in the U.S.. We will also investigate, analyze and expose the monopoly interests behind the aid policies directed at Africa. Our African Food Sovereignty newsletter—requested by African partners—provides updates to over 600 subscribers and organizations on the African continent regarding the actions and plans of USAID, the U.S. State Department, the Gates Foundation and other U.S.-based institutions. We are also working on a range of educational pieces—from peer-reviewed academic research to popular and public education materials on the hopeful solutions to hunger being advanced by African food and farming movements.