Good Clean Food For Everyone! The Food Security Revolution and Environmental Health

by Gramma Willi

Relatives – like so many of us, I find myself more and more pleased that being an activist has become an easier road to walk. Victories for human rights and for the Earth increase in number and significance and we hear about them sooner than we used to. Everyone’s talking about green jobs. Our hopes are up, we may actually have an activist leading the free world – Yes We Can! It’s quite a time to be a part of it all, isn’t it?

One of my favorite stories about the changes in public attitude towards environment and health concerns feeding our children. So much has changed in my lifetime. As a young mother, it was almost impossible to find, let alone afford, organic baby food; it was tricky to find a place to breast-feed a baby in peace. These days, parents can find a wide variety of organic baby foods and formula in almost any supermarket; my grand-babies were all breast-fed (even the twins!) and fed organic baby foods. Now that the monopolies have more “natural” offerings available to consumers, are we happy with the production? Is there a next step that we need to take?

IICPH (International Institute of Concern for Public Health), whom I have worked with for many years, has a stellar reputation for providing independent, thoughtful analysis and corroborating community environmental health concerns. Most of our works for communities report on contamination of the air, land and water. It has always given me sadness when we report arsenic, tritium, mercury, lead or other highly damaging pollution where people have food gardens or farms. Food discussions at our youth and elder gatherings took on sad notes when realizing how very careful we must be where we grow our food, where it comes from and how it is prepared. We can make sensible choices when we consider our health.

The good news is, learning to choose, grow and cook good food provides not only sound environmental education, but when applied, benefits everyone’s health and saves people money! The truth is out there, people want clean food and groups like IICPH are uniquely positioned to help them to learn about it. Never has environmental health education been more timely and important… and good food is a delicious place to focus.

Perhaps the silver lining of the economic collapse is that the cards are on the table. Finally, the voices of old hippies and tireless activists are welcome and needed. The public continues to become informed and grows in wisdom as the next generation begins making its mark in history books and business reports. Let’s fill their bellies and minds with good things.

Remember that I love you

All My Relations,

Gramma Willi

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Gramma Willi has been working with IICPH since 1997. Expressions of her dedication to the clean food revolution can be found at http://roughtimes.ca and http://YouTube.com/roughtimescooking.

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Here are a few more resources to get you started if you want to do more about clean food:

http://www.foodsecurity.org/
The Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC)
is a non-profit 501(c)(3), North American organization dedicated to building strong, sustainable, local and regional food systems that ensure access to affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food for all people at all times.

http://www.toronto.ca/health/tfpc_index.htm
Toronto Food Policy Council
, 277 Victoria Street, Suite 203, Toronto, Ontario M5B 1W1l: Wayne ““Taking control of our food” Roberts, Project Co-ordinator: 416-338-7937. Friends of Toronto Food Policy Council is on Facebook.
Their aim “is a food system that fosters equitable food access, nutrition, community development and environmental health.

http://www.foodsecuritynews.com/Resources.htm
The Food Security Network of Newfoundland and Labrador
have a great page full of links to action going on all over!

Please email to Gramma Willi if you know of any more independent and reliable resources to help our Rough Times mission:

Good Clean Food For Everyone!

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Published in: on November 17, 2009 at 2:00 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Food Security, Agriculture and the Future – the 100 Mile Principle

Founder of the Self Employed Women’s Association, Ela Bhatt tells about growing numbers of starving people all over the world, the great distances between food producers and consumers. She speaks to her concept, the “100 Mile Principle,” that urges all to think of using staple foods and food-related services that are produced within 100 miles around us. She also speaks about global economic and environmental disasters created by systems that treat food as a commodity instead of food as a basic necessity of life.

Using the 100 Mile Principle, we can start with our own food first, using and retaining the seed, soil and water knowledge developed locally over generations; the uses, storage, processes, recipes and packaging of local food reside with the generations of cooks. Bhatt invites us to experiment with the 100 Mile Principle with our local daily staple food in 2009 and suggests that we will cut the economic and ecological cost of food, begin to restore the organic human link between ecology and economy and mend the old link between producer and consumer. As she pleads to us so beautifully, “Ultimately, ecology as cosmology or economy as market is the weave of life. Let us start weaving it tighter from 2009.”

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http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/3932721.cms?prtpage=1

Food security for future thought
4 Jan 2009, 0222 hrs IST, Ela R Bhatt,

At the Tallberg Forum, Sweden, I heard two women farmers from Ghana lament, “The food we produce we do not eat, the food we eat we do not produce.”

Would India’s farmers sing a different sorrow?

According to the latest FAO report, the number of hungry people worldwide increased from 848 million in 2005 to 1 billion in 2008. The spreading hunger is weakening food security. Evidently, the world food system is unable to ensure food, which is adequate and safe, to sustain human life. Is India any exception?

If nothing else, over the years we have kept up with the world food system in making it more and more complex but less and less useful to feed the hungry. Simple questions remain unanswered. Safe and nutritious food is promoted as a fundamental right and yet our people remain hungry.

Why do those who produce and process food, farmers and farm workers, most of them women, do not have enough food to eat? Why do food exporting regions report starvation? Returns on global food markets have become increasingly attractive but why do the farm labourers remain the lowest paid and work under worst conditions? Food has today become a mere commodity.

But, food is much more. Food has a sense of locality, home, sthana in India. Food is many-layered in its use and satisfaction. Food is our link from cosmos to livelihood to ritual to myth. It is our life’s culture. Food is our history and our future. Food has many meanings to us. But food security is the language of the state today.

Can food be reduced to business and trade opportunity? Is it not the result of failed political economy, the other of failed morality? Our civilization started with agriculture and today agriculture is under threat. What about our civilization?

We have to protect ways of life and livelihoods of the farming communities from the threat of extinction. We must protect the base of agriculture, small farmers, their produce and their locality of farming. Security stems from local innovations, not distant imports.

To build food security, we must understand that security needs autonomy that grants diversity which stems from locality. Autonomy, diversity and locality are the fundamentals of our food security.

Producer & consumer must come closer

To achieve the above, we must reduce the distance, economic and ecological, between food producer and consumer. Here I wish to suggest my 100 Mile Principle that stems from ecology of food that I mentioned at Tallberg Forum.

I urged all to think of using essential foods and food-related services that are produced within 100 miles around us. I explained that the 100 Mile Principle weaves decentralization, locality, size and scale with livelihood of agriculture. What we need for livelihood as material, as energy as knowledge should stem from areas around us.

We can start with our own food first. Seed, soil and water are forms of knowledge developed over generations that need to be retained locally. So are the uses, storage, processes, recipes and packaging of food. Let us experiment with the 100 Mile Principle with our daily staple food in 2009.

It cuts economic and ecological cost on food. Essentially, the organic human link between ecology and economy has to be restored. The millennia old link between producer and consumer has to be recovered. Ultimately, ecology as cosmology or economy as market is the weave of life. Let us start weaving it tighter from 2009.

Note: Gramma Willi gives thanks to foodforethought.net, who pointed the way to this important article.