Diverse Groups Unite to Build a Just and Sustainable Food System

Food First | 10.01.2009

The global food crisis has motivated diverse U.S.-based groups—including progressive labor, faith, indigenous, community food, farm, environmental, and trade justice—to join forces. The U.S. Working Group on the Food Crisis was formed in 2008 when a number of groups representing different areas of the food system came together. The goal of the U.S. Working Group is to bring attention to the underlying causes of the crisis and to promote transformative solutions to fix our broken food system.

The Working Group is planning an inclusive and unifying campaign to end the ongoing food crisis that has become a daily reality for 39 million Americans (nearly one in eight) and just over one billion people (nearly one is six) worldwide. This campaign aims to counter the well-funded propaganda of the corporate agrifoods industry and advance the shared goal of a just and sustainable food system. A unifying theme of ending poverty by rebuilding local food economies, with specific campaign strategies, was agreed upon at an August 31/September 1, 2009 meeting of representatives from over 50 organizations. The campaign builds upon grassroots strengths and existing food justice movement work, while seizing the unique political moment in Washington and internationally. The campaign will focus on the poverty and injustice that the dominant food system creates—and on the potential for communities, regions, and nations to build just and prosperous food economies from the ground up.

A two-tier approach has been identified—addressing corporate control of the food system as the primary cause of damage to people, communities and the environment, and ending poverty by rebuilding local food economies.

The campaign will confront monopolies in the food system by taking advantage of the U.S. Department of Justice/U.S. Department of Agriculture joint listening sessions on anti-trust which begin in early 2010. The Working Group will share stories from the grassroots and present research and analysis to these sessions. Those hurt by the anti-competitive structure of the corporate food system will raise their voices in the sessions and organize creative community actions to highlight the current injustices of the food system and showcase the positive alternatives that could be scaled up. Washington DC-based groups will reinforce the call for anti-trust legislation by working with Congress.

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Working Group members also agreed to organize for food systems change at the U.S. Social Forum, which will bring together as many as 20,000 people in Detroit, Michigan on June 22-26, 2010. This will involve building a delegation of urban and rural farmers, farm and food workers, and other food system leaders who are creating today’s solutions to the food crisis. These new food system leaders will organize a series of workshops and activities focused on strengthening food systems through peer-to-peer training.

An October 13, 2009 meeting in Des Moines, Iowa recruited additional participants, continued the dialogue, and refined campaign plans. If you are interested in participating, contact Tristan Quinn-Thibodeau (Tristan@whyhunger.org). For a list of some of the groups participating in the campaign, go to http://usfoodcrisisgroup.org/.

Also in this issue of News & Views:

  • Oakland Food Policy Council is seated, sworn in, and makes its first decisions
  • First Annual Food Sovereignty Prize presented at the Community Food Security Coalition Annual meeting in Des Moines