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A3. Agroecology

What Happens When Alice Waters Jumps On Your Zoom Call to Talk School Food Procurement

Food Tank - Fri, 02/03/2023 - 06:56

A version of this piece was featured in Food Tank’s newsletter, released weekly on Thursdays. To make sure it lands straight in your inbox and to be among the first to receive it, subscribe now by clicking here.

Recently, I received a text. And it was a good one.

It was from Alice Waters.

She and I know each other, but I still get starstruck talking to my culinary heroines. At her restaurant Chez Panisse, she was instrumental in bringing the names and faces of California agriculture to the table. And now, with the Edible Schoolyard Project, she continues to boost the school gardens movement and food education.

She was part of an important generation of women like Julia Child and Cecilia Chiang who truly paved the way in what was—and remains, to some degree—a male-dominated fine dining restaurant landscape.

This week, Food Tank members had a special opportunity to chat with Alice Waters at our virtual member meeting. We’ll be having more of these unique members-only conversations with other food luminaries like Alice, so I hope you’ll join Food Tank so you can connect with us.

Here’s why I’m bringing this up: Something Alice so many of us are very passionate about is where our food comes from, especially in schools. How schools procure food shapes how they literally and metaphorically nourish the next generation.

This is a major driving force behind Chez Panisse, and it also motivates the Edible Schoolyard Project. Having gardens in schools helps kids and teachers learn in different ways—not only to better understand subjects like math, chemistry, and social studies, but also to grasp that food doesn’t just come from a grocery store.

As far as school gardens go, we’ve lost our way over the past 100 years: In 1906, according to the USDA, there were roughly 75,000 school gardens in the U.S. As of 2019, just over 12,000 schools have gardens. Growing our own food, I think, gives people of all ages a better appreciation and respect for how difficult but also enriching the process is.

“When we support the people who grow the food for the schools, it’s the biggest gift that we can give the next generation,” she told us during the conversation.

And even if we aren’t able to start gardens, supporting schools and other institutions that are taking food procurement seriously is a big deal. Through better procurement practices, Alice told us, we can empower farmers, support the land, and address the climate crisis.

Sadly, in many budget-strapped schools, nutrition and local sourcing often fall by the wayside. In 2021, the USDA measured nine criteria for school food procurement. Cost was #1—the highest priority consideration—and nutrition was #9. Many schools said they wanted to support local producers, but few had concrete plans in place to do so, and even fewer could actually afford it.

But this is starting to change. During Covid-19, we’ve seen that farm-to-school programs are vital lifelines for small producers, and policymakers are paying attention. In New York State, for example, legislators introduced a bill that would make New York the first state to implement a values-based approach to food purchasing. Food Tank has been covering the legislation HERE.

True change in school food procurement takes both advocacy, Alice Waters told Food Tank members this week, and also “cheerleading from the federal government, from the state governments.” It’s imperative to make sure good food policies are ingrained and enshrined in our local, state, and federal laws.

And alongside those efforts, institutions like schools don’t have to wait to make change. Local school boards can embrace food and gardening programs, like the curricula created by the Edible Schoolyard Project. The Alice Waters Institute for Edible Education also recently partnered with the University of California, Davis, to create a training center for K-12 educators and a research hub for regenerative ag leaders.

Because every little bit of education helps. Here in the U.S., our students receive about 8 hours of nutrition education a year, according to the CDC. That’s shamefully low, and too small to really be effective—you’d need between 40–50 hours to bring about behavioral change.

So I hope you’ll reach out not only to your local elected legislators but also to school boards and business leaders to encourage them to take food procurement seriously. And I hope, too, that you’ll join Food Tank HERE so you can connect directly with food luminaries like Alice Waters at our exclusive member meetings.

More from our chat with Alice is on this week’s episode of our podcast, Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg, so I hope you’ll listen HERE, and email me as always at danielle@foodtank.com with your thoughts and questions.

Articles like the one you just read are made possible through the generosity of Food Tank members. Can we please count on you to be part of our growing movement? Become a member today by clicking here.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture

The post What Happens When Alice Waters Jumps On Your Zoom Call to Talk School Food Procurement appeared first on Food Tank.

Categories: A3. Agroecology

New Polling Shows Widespread Support for Prioritizing Sustainability and Growing Healthy Foods in 2023 Farm Bill

Family Farm Action - Thu, 02/02/2023 - 11:54

A new poll released today conducted by GQR on behalf of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future’s (CLF) Food Citizen Project in collaboration with Farm Action shows overwhelming, bipartisan support from voters for Congress to prioritize sustainable agriculture and growing healthier foods in the 2023 Farm Bill.

With Farm Bill negotiations heating up, President Biden’s State of the Union address and the Food Not Feed Summit next week, the release of this poll is timely: 88 percent of voters want Congress to make it a high priority to produce food in a sustainable way and to make healthy foods more available to all Americans.

The poll also found that 84% of voters support policy proposals that would incentivize farmers and ranchers to implement sustainable and resilient agricultural practices, and 78% want American agriculture policy to prioritize healthy and sustainable food for humans over feed for animals. 

 “Government policies have for too long stood in the way of farmers looking to grow and raise the healthy food they know their communities need, instead caving to multinational corporations and incentivizing the growth of feed grains to subsidize corporate livestock operations,” said Joe Maxwell, President and Co-Founder of Farm Action. “This poll shows that Americans across party lines want a better agricultural system that puts farmers in the best position to produce healthy food for their local communities.”

Mr. Maxwell continued, “In a polarized country, it’s rare to experience this level of bipartisan support, but Americans of all stripes have made it clear that supporting sustainable, local farming should be a priority for Congress and the President.”

In 2019, a paltry four percent of federal farm support dollars went toward the production of fruits and vegetables, as opposed to the 30 percent of federal farm support dollars that domestic meat, poultry, eggs, and animal feed received. This poll underscores the American public’s support for a massive shift in agriculture policy that better aligns with nutritional recommendations and American values.

The poll was conducted in collaboration with Farm Action, which next week is hosting the Food Not Feed Summit in Washington, D.C. to raise awareness around the 2023 Farm Bill and a number of the issues raised by the poll, including ensuring that the Farm Bill shifts incentive towards sustainable agriculture practices and incentives for farmers to produce healthy food for their local communities. The Summit includes prominent speakers including Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), and will be bookended by visits to legislators on the Hill.

The poll was conducted through an online survey of 1000 nationally registered voters from Jan 12, 2023 – Jan 23, 2023. The data has been weighted to reflect the demographic composition of the registered voter population for the nation.

Media Contact: Dee Laninga, dlaninga@farmaction.us, 202-450-0094

The post New Polling Shows Widespread Support for Prioritizing Sustainability and Growing Healthy Foods in 2023 Farm Bill first appeared on Farm Action.
Categories: A3. Agroecology

Driving the Food Movement Forward One Edible Garden at a Time

Food Tank - Thu, 02/02/2023 - 09:43

More than 25 years since the Edible Schoolyard Project was founded, the nonprofit organization continues to deepen relationships between young people and their communities and the food they eat. 

In 1995 chef Alice Waters launched the Edible Schoolyard Project, which uses school gardens, kitchens, and cafeterias to teach students about the values of food, nature, and community. Waters started the project with a single middle school in Berkeley, California, supported by a coalition of educators, families, farmers, cooks, and artists. Together, they worked with students to create a garden and kitchen classroom. 

Since the founding of the first Edible Schoolyard, the nonprofit has established thousands of gardens across the country. In these spaces, young people have the chance to deepen their relationship with food and develop new skills. “The foods that the kids cook really empowers them,” Waters tells Food Tank. “And they are changed by it.”

Each garden takes shape in a different way, but Waters believes that it doesn’t matter whether students are growing their food in an urban or rural setting, in pots or in the ground. “Really, you need to know it can be done,” she says. “Seeing is believing and we have only been seeing disaster right now. War and disaster. And we need to see people feeling empowered and growing their own food.”

Involving young people is only one piece of Waters’ vision. She believes that transformation of the world’s food and agriculture systems requires participation from everyone. “We need to learn about what it is to live in a democracy,” Waters tells Food Tank. “And a democracy means that everybody has something to contribute.”

Listen to the full conversation with Alice Waters on “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg” to hear more about the power of eating in community, why the design of everything from gardens to kitchens matters, why Waters says that supporting farmers who grow food for schools is “the biggest gift that we can give the next generation.”

Articles like the one you just read are made possible through the generosity of Food Tank members. Can we please count on you to be part of our growing movement? Become a member today by clicking here.

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Kemper, Unsplash

The post Driving the Food Movement Forward One Edible Garden at a Time appeared first on Food Tank.

Categories: A3. Agroecology

The Hill | Americans Want Farm Subsidies to Go to Human Food, Not Animal Feed: Survey

Family Farm Action - Thu, 02/02/2023 - 04:37

Reposted from: https://thehill.com/policy/equilibrium-sustainability/3841276-americans-want-farm-subsidies-to-go-to-human-food-not-animal-feed-survey/

A new survey has found that 78 percent of Americans want federal farm funding to prioritize food for people over feed for livestock.

The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and the farm advocacy group Farm Action published the bipartisan survey of 1000 people on Thursday. It represented the first time those groups asked explicitly about American crop subsidies — a form of federal aid overwhelmingly spent on growing crops to feed beef and dairy cattle, chickens and pigs. The survey is part of a broader campaign that seeks a general reversal in American food policy — with these subsidies being one of its most contentious issues.

It is part of Farm Action’s upcoming Food Not Feed Summit in Washington D.C., on Tuesday, which seeks to rally change around a proposal to make as much federal support available for fruits and vegetables as for feed grains.

“The United States is really in a crisis when it comes to food and agriculture,” Farm Action President Joe Maxwell told The Hill. Farm Action believes these subsidy programs support an unsustainable and unhealthy American diet and food system. 

Plant-based diets are widely acknowledged to reduce both climate disruption and chronic disease, according to Johns Hopkins.

But most federal subsidies don’t go to those foods. A report by Farm Action found that about 30 percent of American farm subsidies go to produce feed crops for dairy, eggs and meat. A further 12 percent goes to support the production of biofuels. Another 13 percent goes to food grains — like rice, corn and wheat — to feed people.  Only 4 percent go to fruits and vegetables.

A preliminary study by the Department of Agriculture-funded Nutrition Incentive Hub found that people were most likely to buy and eat fruits and vegetables when they were subsidized.

By contrast, existing subsidy programs push farmers to overproduce fattening feed grains like corn and soy — giving companies that handle livestock, like JBS, Tyson and Pilgrim’s Pride, “access to grain at below the cost of production,” Maxwell said.

Farm Action sees the subsidies as part of a broader and more worrying trend. The advocacy group sees a national farm system that is losing the ability to produce its own healthy food.  “The narrative in Washington, D.C., continues to be about how we’re going to feed the world,” Maxwell added. “The truth is, we don’t feed ourselves.”

Maxwell pointed to Americans’ growing dependence on imported crops — something he believes is a direct result of government funding priorities. By 2020, the U.S. was on track to import more food than it exported for the first time since the 1950s, according to the University of Kentucky.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) expects this winter’s imports to surpass exports by 4 percent. A big part of that trade imbalance comes from the U.S. importing more of the “table crops” filling supermarket produce sections.

Fruits, nuts and vegetables accounted for more than half of agricultural imports, the USDA’s Economic Research Service found.

More significantly, table crops are becoming an ever-larger share of imports.  Government researchers noted that two-thirds of the rise in agricultural imports could be accounted for by the rising U.S. imports of produce from berries to avocados. The Economic Research Service noted that some element of this shift comes from a rising customer preference for crops that out of season in the U.S.

This divide is even more dramatic in federal conservation programs. The USDA spends nearly 2 billion yearly on the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. But by law, half of those funds must go to grazing, manure management and other purposes exclusive to animal agriculture.

Maxwell stressed that the group isn’t proposing that “we abandon every corn farmer or soybean farmer — I happen to be one,” Maxwell said. But they want to see fruits and vegetables given at least as much support as feed grains. Doing so “would help feed our country, balance our trade and give us healthier people,” Maxwell said.

The post The Hill | Americans Want Farm Subsidies to Go to Human Food, Not Animal Feed: Survey first appeared on Farm Action.
Categories: A3. Agroecology

2023 | January News Wrap: Updates from La Via Campesina Members Worldwide!

In early January, as the world turned the page on another year, La Via Campesina (LVC) issued a communiqué on behalf of all its members and allies, expressing the unwavering faith of the global peasant movement in the power of working class solidarity and hope. In these turbulent times of despair and war, La Via Campesina’s message of hope called for recognising these realities, identifying their causes and fighting for radical and transformative change in the daily lives of peasants, indigenous peoples and workers everywhere.

This message of unity and solidarity was essential as the month of January was marked by traumatic news of repression, assassinations and criminalisation of social movements around the world and particularly in Peru. Excessive use of force by state agents, including the use of firearms to contain social mobilisations, led to the deaths of scores of demonstrators, including minors, and hundreds of others were injured following a state of emergency decree issued by the executive on 14 December. Throughout January, allies and members of La Via Campesina issued statements and warnings to the world about the unacceptable actions of the Peruvian state against its own people, especially peasants and indigenous peoples.

During the month, La Via Campesina also drew attention to the multifaceted crisis in Haiti, which it says is caused by the interventionist policies of the imperialist nations. In a statement of solidarity, the movement alerted its members and allies to large-scale land grabs, the eviction of peasant families and a massive rural exodus in the country.

In Brazil, La Via Campesina denounced and condemned the despicable act of terrorism and attempted coup in January against the formal institutions of the Brazilian government. “Together with our organisations of La Via Campesina Brazil, we defend food sovereignty, peasant agroecology and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP), for health, education and quality public policies, and we are sure that Lula’s government, democratically elected, will be able to articulate a collective process for a country with more dignity for its people,” the movement said in its press release.

La Via Campesina and its members condemned the eviction of 450 farm workers, many of them migrants, from El Walili in southern Spain. The Andalusian workers’ union (SOC-SAT) warned that if the workers lost their homes, they would also lose their jobs, since they had settled there for many years in order to access precarious jobs on the farms and greenhouses in the area. market, which supplies fruit and vegetables to many parts of Europe.

On to other news from around the world;

In Asia, the Korean Peasants’ League decried the growing corporatisation of agriculture and the national government’s enormous focus on the food tech industry at the expense of farmers and their livelihoods. They denounced the Ministry of Agriculture’s ‘Food Tech Industry Development Plan’ as a cover for allowing lab-grown food into the country. They denounced the failure to address the real problems facing farmers, such as falling prices.

A delegation of young peasants from La Via Campesina who attended the Global Forum on Food and Agriculture in Berlin in January also denounced the growing tendency of governments to turn to technocratic solutions. In their interventions, the campesino youth pointed out that sustainable food systems depend on the development of local agricultural innovations that are appropriate to a particular region or area, and on the ability to effectively communicate and transfer knowledge to those responsible for production.

In other news from Asia, in Thailand, the Northern Peasant Federation, a member of La Via Campesina, held a presentation on peasant rights violations in the country over the past decade. The presentations focused on the dispossession of forest land, the impact of large-scale extractive companies on peasant families, access to education in rural Thailand, labour rights issues and gender discrimination.

In Sri Lanka, MONLAR raised the issue of illegal deforestation near Nakolagane in the Kurunegala district. More than 5,400 acres of forest and nearby farmland are being cleared to make way for commercial crops. MONLAR and other environmental groups are very concerned about the potential for increased human-elephant conflict in this area in the near future.

Moving on to the Latin American region;

The Regional Peasants’ Forum was held in Panama on 23-24 January, with the participation of more than 40 people from peasant, indigenous and artisanal fisheries organisations from 13 countries in the region, as well as representatives of the International Fund for Agricultural Development – IFAD and allies.

In January, the youth articulation in the continent released a short film that captures the most important moments of the XVII (17th) Youth Camp of the Latin American Coordination of Campesino Organisations, CLOC-Via Campesina. Several dozen young people from different provinces of the country, as well as international delegates from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Nicaragua, Mexico, Guatemala and the United States, participated in this event last August.

In news from Africa, the National Coordination of Peasant Organisations of Mali (CNOP MALI), in collaboration with the Malian Association for Solidarity and Development (AMSD), has organised a “Bio-Weekend” at the AMSD headquarters in Kalaban Coro. The main objective of this activity is to promote a better understanding of issues related to the promotion and valuation of agroecological and organic products in the context of a sustainable food system.

Campaigners in Uganda have taken Kenya to the East African Court of Justice (ECJ) over its decision to allow the free use, import and cultivation of genetically modified crops, saying they pose potential risks to the region. Last October, Kenya’s cabinet lifted a 10-year ban on GMOs that had restricted open cultivation and imports, becoming the second country in Africa to do so.

In January, several members of La Via Campesina also attended the annual Oxford Real Farming Conference. A virtual exhibition space was also set up to allow participants to learn more about LVC and its peasant organisations, in particular their proposals and positions for a radical transformation of food systems based on agroecology, justice and solidarity. During the panel on “Food in a time of war”, La Via Campesina drew attention to the acute hunger caused by the many geopolitical conflicts that are disrupting global food distribution systems. The movement called on governments to pay attention to small farmers, who can provide food and ensure a country’s food self-sufficiency even in times of such acute crisis.

Before we close, here are the links to the various publications released in January 2023;

  1. UNDROP Thematic Booklet No. 3: “Peasants’ Dignified Lives and Livelihoods
  2. UNDROP Thematic Booklet No. 4: “Peasants as Political Subjects”

(Have we missed an important update? If so, please email the links to communications@viacampesina.org and we will include them in the next issue. Only updates from La Via Campesina members will be included in this news wrap. For a full update on various initiatives from January 2023, please visit our website).

Have you missed previous editions of our News Wrap? You can find them here.

An abridged version of our monthly News Wrap is also available as a podcast on Anchor FM and Spotify.

The post 2023 | January News Wrap: Updates from La Via Campesina Members Worldwide! appeared first on Via Campesina English.

New Round of Farmers of Color Network Grants

RAFI-USA - Wed, 02/01/2023 - 14:04

RAFI-USA is now accepting applications for the 2023 Farmers of Color Network Infrastructure Grant cycle! Applicants may request up to $10,000 in assistance for farm infrastructure projects that increase farm viability and do one or more of the following: support community food sovereignty efforts, preserve traditional and cultural farming practices, or support farmers’ local food economies. 

The post New Round of Farmers of Color Network Grants appeared first on Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA.

Categories: A3. Agroecology

Europe: Working and Learning Conditions of Young Agricultural Workers | Report

January 31, 2023

In the context of the 4th Anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP), we, the European Coordination Via Campesina, publish the result of a recent study written by Priscilla Claeys and Barbara Van Dyck from Coventry University in collaboration with our Youth Articulation.

Peasant farmers and young agricultural workers represent two sides of the same coin: the failure to provide a decent income for farmers jeopardizes the training of future peasant farmers. Young people work in order to learn, and learn as they are working, even if no formal training is provided. However, the learning process of young agricultural workers takes place in very harsh conditions, including reduced or no payment, and inadequate housing, food and support. These are some of the important limitations that are preventing a socially and ecologically just transformation of the food system.

This report assesses the working and learning conditions of young agricultural workers, defined as people who labour in the fields, mountains and farms and also in the livestock or food processing units and who are younger than 40 years old. The report looks at a wide range of issues including working hours, fees, contracts, negotiation power, food and housing, and gender discrimination, including with regard to intersectionality. Issues such as finding a farm that is best suited for learning, difficulties and dreams for the future are also assessed.

With this report, the authors hope to contribute to the recognition of young agricultural workers’ conditions, and support the political work of ECVC Youth.

youth-report-EN-edit02Download

You can also read the full publication on ECVC webpage here.

The post Europe: Working and Learning Conditions of Young Agricultural Workers | Report appeared first on Via Campesina English.

EU-MERCOSUR FTA violates farmers’ rights and climate commitments

Joint statement by the European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC) and the Coordinadora Latinoamericana de Organizaciones del Campo CLOC – Via Campesina condemning the EU-MERCOSUR free trade agreement as undemocratic and in violation of peasants’ rights and climate commitments. This statement comes at a time when the European Commission and some EU Member States are trying to find a way to approve such an agreement, without taking into account the democratic control of national parliaments, the real impact or the implementation of “environmental” measures.

January 30, 2023

In a statement signed by numerous organisations, small- and medium-scale farmers from Europe and South America have condemned the EU-MERCOSUR Free Trade Agreement as undemocratic and a violation of peasants’ rights and climate commitments.

The statement comes as the European Commission and some EU Member States are pushing to find ways to adopt the FTA, with little regard for the democratic control of national parliaments or real impact or implementation of so-called environmental measures.

In their statement, the European and South American regions of LVC are just two of the many CSO voices to reject this agreement and all the proposals designed to fast-track ratification without due democratic scrutiny. These proposals include splitting the agreement into a section covering purely trade, to bypass the much of the sign-off process from dozens of national parliaments, or putting together a non-binding additional document to simply appear to be considering environmental concerns, with little commitment to implementation after. Small- and medium scale farmers from both sides of the Atlantic condemn these attempts to greenwash an unstainable FTA and overlook the strong democratic opposition that the new FTA generates.

In addition to the statement, European farmers will also protest with allied organisations in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Madrid to underline the obsolete nature of the FTA, particularly in the context of the promise made in the European Green Deal, Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals. Given that in the EU, the farming population accounts for less than 5% of total employment, the EU must do more to ensure their trade policies are coherent with their vision to support rural development and ensure rural areas properly integrated into any green transition.

Andoni Garcia Arriola, member of ECVC and the Spanish farmers’ organisation COAG explained. “The EU-MERCOSUR deal promotes industrial models of agriculture aimed at export agribusiness and destroys the more social and sustainable agriculture in the hands of small and medium-sized farmers on both sides of the Atlantic. This agreement increases the number of agricultural products that are unnecessarily imported and exported across and within continents, when otherwise those products could be produced sustainably and agroecologically by local farmers. For all these reasons, together with other Mercosur farmers’ organisations, we demand the EU and Mercosur governments to stop this agreement entirely.”

It is time to shift away from the free-trade paradigm towards a new framework for international trade based on food sovereignty. Any agreements negotiated by the EU must have at their core human rights, and in particular food producers’ rights as recognised in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP).

This would allow for genuine agricultural development which gives the priority to local food production and agroecology, instead of prioritising the profit and expansion of corporate power on food and agriculture.

EN-La-Via-Campesina-against-EU-Mercosur-trade-agreementfinalDownload

The post EU-MERCOSUR FTA violates farmers’ rights and climate commitments appeared first on Via Campesina English.

School for Food Justice, Faith, and Storytelling: Five Insights From Session 1

RAFI-USA - Tue, 01/31/2023 - 11:40

Come to the Table’s School for Food Justice, Faith, and Storytelling (SFJFS) kicked off on January 19 with a session entitled, “The Power of Storytelling,” featuring a mini-workshop from New York Times bestselling author Mark Yaconelli. Here are five insights from our first session.

The post School for Food Justice, Faith, and Storytelling: Five Insights From Session 1 appeared first on Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA.

Categories: A3. Agroecology

Food Tank’s Winter 2023 Reading List

Food Tank - Mon, 01/30/2023 - 07:21

Food Tank is rounding up 20 books to help everyone deepen their understanding of food systems. Cookbooks like Toya Boudy’s Cooking for the Culture and Jerry Mai’s Vietnam: Morning to Midnight include recipes to stimulate reader’s awareness around food and identity. Fresh Banana Leaves by Jessica Hernandez reveals the power of Indigenous knowledge systems in rebuilding a more sustainable and just global food system. And Costing the Earth calls for an overhaul of the world’s approach to finance to save the planet. By highlighting stories of struggle, channels for hope, and frameworks for change, these 20 books will captivate readers and ignite collective action toward a better future for everyone.

1. Becoming Kin: An Indigenous Call to Unforgetting the Past and Reimagining Our Future by Patty Krawec

Becoming Kin details how going backwards to Indigenous ways of knowing may guide readers to reimagine a different future in which the land is relative, not a resource. Entwining stories of her ancestors alongside her own, Anishinaabe writer Patty Krawec helps readers understand settler colonialism through the eyes of an Indigenous writer. Becoming Kin encourages readers to reflect on their own identity and education as they forge a new relationship between humans and the environment.

2. The Climate Optimist Handbook by Anne Therese Gennari

The Climate Optimist Handbook enters the world at a critical moment. Anne Therese Gennari guides readers to shift perspective on the climate crisis so that they can act from a place of optimism and hope, rather than one of fear. Taking readers on a journey of empowered awareness, this handbook calls all readers to recognize that the future is truly up to us. With the courage to act, humanity has much to win.

3. Cooking for the Culture by Toya Boudy

Cooking for the Culture celebrates New Orleans food and its Black culture through the words of Toya Boudy, a born and raised local chef. This cookbook gives readers the inside scoop on Boudy’s original television competition recipes, from Sweet Cream Farina at the crack of dawn to Jambalaya and Red Gravy for dinner. Weaving traditional dishes from home into personal stories from her childhood, Boudy’s cookbook highlights the ways in which food and identity intertwine.

4. Costing the Earth by Eric Archambeau

In Costing the Earth, Eric Archambeau argues that in order to save the planet, world leaders must radically overhaul finance. Archambeau supports his claim with stories from his own career path, including venture capital in Silicon Valley and climate focused work in agriculture. Costing the Earth is both timely and relevant, calling for the corporate sector to go beyond media friendly pledges to advance impact goals on the same basis as profitability goals.

5. Crushed: How a Changing Climate is Altering the Way We Drink by Brian Freedman

Crushed invites readers on a trip through the world of wine and spirits, sharing the stories of growers and producers from eight key regions that are being affected by the climate crisis. Amid stories from fires in California’s wine country and hailstorms in Bordeaux, Brian Freedman intertwines tales of success as producers adapt to meet the ever-changing climate. Crushed is for everyone who fancies a nice dram of wine or whiskey, giving readers the opportunity to understand the evolution of their beloved beverages from ground to glass.

6. Farm: The Making of a Climate Activist by Nicola Harvey

In Farm, Nicola Harvey explores the complex arguments surrounding food and climate change that are too often rendered as black and white. Harvey shares the excitement and hardships of her personal transition from an inner-city lifestyle to a cattle farm in rural New Zealand. Farm spotlights the challenges of new farmers confronting the status quo of the industrialized food system, while also just trying to survive.

7. Food System Transformations: Social Movements, Local Economies, Collaborative Networks Edited by Cordula Kropp, Irene Antoni-Komar, and Colin Sage

Food System Transformations examines the role of local food movements in devising solutions to global food issues. Drawing on fieldwork from across the world, this research provides a fresh perspective on the role of grassroots initiatives in building more sustainable and socially just food production systems. Food System Transformations represents a ‘second generation’ movement, imagining a world in which local autonomy directly contributes to healthy nutrition worldwide.

8. Fresh Banana Leaves: Healing Indigenous Landscapes through Indigenous Science by Jessica Hernandez

Although Indigenous communities are among the most affected by the climate crisis, their scientific knowledge systems remain largely ignored in mainstream environmental discourse. In Fresh Banana Leaves, Jessica Hernandez challenges this narrative, breaking down why western conservation isn’t working. As she introduces and contextualizes Indigenous knowledge systems, Hernandez reveals how humans can save the world through processes that heal and regenerate rather than displace and destroy.

9. From the Ground Up: Local Efforts to Create Resilient Cities by Alison Sant

From the Ground Up shows the unique ways cities in the United States are working to mitigate and adapt to climate change while building equitable communities. Harnessing urban-experimentation and community-based development, expert Alison Sant reveals how to raise the bar in communities from places of survival to places where everyone can thrive.

10. The Fulton Fish Market: A History by Jonathan H. Rees

The Fulton Fish Market by Jonathan Rees explores the evolution of Manhattan’s Fulton Fish Market – one of the largest fish markets in the United States. This historical analysis vividly illustrates how politics, rapid development and overfishing led to the market’s steady decline in the 1920s. Yet Rees’ thoughtful research speaks far beyond the fishing industry, giving insight into how clashes between the natural and built worlds have long shaped American cities.

11. The Future of Food is Female by Jennifer Stojkovic

Three years after founding Vegan Women Summit (VWS), a platform empowering women to build a kinder, more sustainable world, Jennifer Stojkovic brings readers The Future of Food is Female. By spotlighting female leaders, innovators, and changemakers in the plant-based food space, this book paves the way for a reinvented food system which might have the potential to save the planet.

12. Guaraná: How Brazil Embraced the World’s Most Caffeine-Rich Plant by Seth Garfield

In this detailed analysis of Guaraná, Seth Garfield explores the plant’s journey from Brazil’s origin history to its place as the namesake ingredient of a multibillion-dollar soft drink industry. As an emblem of Brazil itself, Guaraná illuminates human impacts upon Amazonian ecosystems and the circulation of knowledge, goods, and power in Latin America’s largest nation.

13. Our Fermented Lives: A History of How Fermented Foods have Shaped Cultures and Communities by Julia Skinner

Alongside the rapid rise of craft beer, kombucha, sourdough and cheese, fermentation has taken flight as a popular topic in both food and health spheres. In Our Fermented Lives, Julia Skinner investigates the fascinating roots of this distinct flavor profile. As Skinner dives into the intersections between fermented foods with human history and culture, she reveals how fermentation has become a powerful instrument in bringing communities together.

14. Quinoa: Food Politics and Agrarian Life in the Andean Highlands by Linda J. Seligmann

Quinoa explores the untold story behind the superfood that has surged in popularity worldwide. In this book, Lisa Seligmann travels to the Huanoquite region of Peru to examine how the growing demand for Quinoa has altered the lives of Quechua farmers in the Andean highlands. As Seligmann researches the transformation of a traditional, minor crop into one of the world’s most exquisite grains, she illuminates broader themes of how Indigenous communities have engaged with global food politics.

15. Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate (Expanded and Updated 2nd Edition) by Laura Lengnick

This expanded edition of Resilient Agriculture invites readers to look beyond the desperation of climate crisis headlines to shine light upon various agricultural climate solutions. As Laura Lengnick shares stories of adaptation, she calls attention to the power of resilience thinking in regenerating the well-being of people, the land, and the communities. Whether readers work in the farm and food industry or are simply curious eaters, Resilient Agriculture provides a hopeful perspective for everyone as the world confronts the challenges ahead.

16. Salmon Wars: The Dark Underbelly of our Favorite Fish by Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins

Salmon Wars takes readers on a deep dive into the murky waters of the industrial salmon farming industry. By revealing conditions inside hatcheries, investigative journalists Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins document how this industry endangers human health and the environment. Yet through highlighting the stories from big fish farmers and fly-fishing activists, Salmon Wars may serve as a springboard for a more transparent and sustainable fishing industry.

17. Transforming Food Systems Under Climate Change Through Innovation Edited by Bruce Campbell, Phillip Thornton, Ana Maria Loboguerrero, Dhanush Dinesh, and Andreea Nowak

Transforming Food Systems Under Climate Change Through Innovation tells readers the story of why food system transformation is essential, and how research can be a catalyst in spearheading that change. Written by a team of researchers from across the globe, this book unites a multitude of perspectives to develop strategies that can be used to approach the future of the food system.

18. Vietnam: Morning to Midnight by Jerry Mai (Forthcoming February 28, 2023)

Join chef and author Jerry Mai as she shares the iconic dishes and street foods that have been long enjoyed throughout Vietnam. From beef pho and banh mi at sunrise to a communal feast of savory snacks and beer at sunset, Vietnam: Morning to Midnight invites readers to experience a day in the life of Vietnamese cuisine from their own kitchens all around the world.

19. A Waiter in Paris: Adventures in the Dark Heart of the City by Edward Chisholm

A Waiter in Paris paints an evocative picture of the realities of a waiter’s job. Edward Chisholm’s memoir underlines the contrast between the luxurious experience of fine dining and the far less glamorous world on the other side of the kitchen door. Chisholm’s recollection of his time as a server in Paris illustrates the conflicted experiences of restaurant workers pursuing their dreams as they balance the physical and emotional demands of the fine dining industry.

20. We Have Fed You All a Thousand Years by Kevin Bruce

Written by a food worker and for food workers, We Have Fed You All a Thousand Years presents a unique perspective on the lives of New York City’s food handlers between 1912 and 1937. From strikes to industrial organizing, and from cafeteria servers to food delivery drivers, Kevin Bruce sheds light on the forgotten history of worker organizing in New York City’s hotels and restaurants.

Articles like the one you just read are made possible through the generosity of Food Tank members. Can we please count on you to be part of our growing movement? Become a member today by clicking here.

The post Food Tank’s Winter 2023 Reading List appeared first on Food Tank.

Categories: A3. Agroecology

FDA Aims to ‘Improve Diet, Reduce Chronic Disease’ by Updating Healthy Claims on Food Labels

Food Tank - Sun, 01/29/2023 - 00:00

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is updating the use of the term healthy on food labels for the first time since 1994. These changes attempt to align the agency’s definition of healthy with the latest nutrition science and federal dietary guidelines.

The word healthy, like the phrases low fat or good source of calcium, is an implied nutrient content claim, meaning it suggests that “a nutrient or an ingredient is absent or present in a certain amount,” according to the Code of Federal Regulations. When consumers see the term healthy on food packaging, they can assume the product supports federal dietary recommendations, as noted in the current rule.

If companies want to use the healthy claim, the product must abide by specific thresholds of total and saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, and contain nutrients like Vitamin A, calcium, or iron.

Uses of the label can be helpful for food products whose nutritional value is not as clear as, raw fruits and vegetables, according to Cydnee Bence, Attorney and Adjunct Professor at Vermont Law and Graduate School. “Where the term healthy does a lot of lifting is on foods that people may not just inherently trust are going to be healthy,” she tells Food Tank.

Under the current regulations, certain foods deemed healthy by the government’s own recommendations are not allowed to bear the word healthy on packaging. The FDA observes that salmon and olive oil, two examples of nutrient dense choices in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines, 2020-2025, are considered too high in total fat to be eligible for the healthy claim. Meanwhile, cereals, snacks, and other processed foods high in added sugar, yet low in fat and fortified with certain nutrients, may carry the claim.

“I could fill a whole cart with foods exclusively labeled as healthy and still not have a truly healthy complete diet,” Bence says.

The new proposed rules will address this issue by regulating healthy claims primarily according to food groups, as opposed to individual nutrients. Food products will need to contain a specific amount of food from at least one of six categories: fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, proteins, and oils. The FDA also plans to continue limiting nutrients including sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars, with baseline amounts varying by food group. Additionally, the agency would remove minimum micronutrient requirements, preventing the labeling of unhealthy foods as healthy simply for containing a large amount of a single nutrient like calcium.

Through these changes the FDA acknowledges that “nutrients are not consumed in isolation” but rather in a broader “dietary pattern.” A dietary pattern refers to the food and beverages people regularly consume and the synergistic effects of those choices. According to the FDA, prioritizing a variety of food groups, rather than specific nutrients, is indicative of better health.

This shift toward food groups “more accurately reflects how consumers view their own food choices,” Bence tells Food Tank. But she has concerns that these new rules may allow too many “borderline foods” to be labeled healthy. Defining foods according to this food group criteria “expands that gray zone where there’s genuine conflicts within the nutritional space,” she says. For instance, dairy products are the subject of much debate by nutrition professionals and may or may not deserve the halo of the healthy claim.

These modified standards come shortly after the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, which outlined the need for addressing high rates of diet-related disease in the United States. According to the FDA, more than 630,000 Americans die from heart disease and 600,000 die from cancer each year, while around 34 percent of adults have pre-diabetes. In light of these dietary and disease trends, the FDA recognizes the need to convey clear and accurate information on labels.

“If I’m going through the store, I spend about two seconds making a decision on what I’m going to buy,” Bence tells Food Tank. “[If] I see the term healthy…I’m just going to assume this is good for me,” she says, speaking to consumers’ reliance on labels to make informed choices.

However, the healthy claim is “not an endorsement by the government” and the FDA cannot ensure that “any individual consumer’s idea of healthy is going to align with what’s in these regulations,” Bence points out. “Healthy at the end of the day is still a marketing term.”

While the proposed rules may not address all the “inherent challenges with implied nutrient claims,” the existing framework is still “well overdue for an update,” Bence says. “Ultimately I think this is a move forward.”

Articles like the one you just read are made possible through the generosity of Food Tank members. Can we please count on you to be part of our growing movement? Become a member today by clicking here.

Photo courtesy of Ella Olsson, Unsplash

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Categories: A3. Agroecology

Black-led Food Co-ops Restore Justice, Hope, and Power

Food Tank - Sat, 01/28/2023 - 00:00

The United States has seen the opening of more than 167 food cooperatives since 2006, according to the Food Co-op Initiative (FCI). Within this movement, Black-led co-ops are tackling food access and racial justice, which can help to fulfill a community’s needs while addressing systemic inequalities to restore power to the people.

Community members themselves own, manage, and govern food co-ops. “They’re about the collective buying power, the collective political power, and especially the collective people power,” says Jasmine Ratliff, Co-Executive Director of the National Black Food and Justice Alliance (NBFJA).

Largely due to historic, systemic disparities in economic resources, Black communities often experience barriers to food sovereignty. Ratliff describes food sovereignty as the right for people to define their own food and agriculture systems, and this is inherently bound up with racial injustice.

Racialized land disenfranchisement is one obstacle to participating in the food system. “We think back into the 1920s when there were nearly 1 million Black farmers in the United States, and now we’re less than one percent of farmers,” Ratliff says.

While the Black community experiences limited control within the food system as producers, ripple effects are felt by consumers who face a lack of food access. A study by the Center of American Progress reports that for over two decades, Black households have been twice as likely to experience food insecurity than white households. In 2020, 21.7 percent of Black households and 7.1 percent of white households experienced food insecurity.

Racial inequalities within land and food access that hinder food sovereignty are built into the mainstream food system. “The conditions which led to a lack of access to food are connected to larger issues,” Darnell Adams, Consultant and Leadership Coach at Firebrand Cooperative, tells Food Tank.

These inextricably linked problems gave rise to Gem City Market in Dayton, Ohio. The market sits on the city’s West side, which has experienced extensive redlining and historical disinvestment, according to Amaha Sellassie, Board President of Gem City Market. Dayton is also a highly segregated city, with African Americans constituting 98 percent of the West side.

Sellassie describes Gem City Market as a “survival mechanism” for people. “We had 40,000 residents and no full-service grocery store,” he tells Food Tank.

A year and a half after its opening, Gem City Market now provides access to fresh produce for Dayton’s West side. The co-op also creates meaningful jobs. “It’s seen as a strategy for community development in a community capacity,” Sellassie says.

Black communities have experienced similar situations of disenfranchisement across the U.S. and, as in Dayton, co-ops have opened to address historical inequities in the food system.

In West Oakland, California, Jeneba Kilgore, Worker-Owner at Mandela Grocery Cooperative, describes extremely limited options for communities to purchase food. “A lot of the neighborhoods in West Oakland had 20 to 30 liquor stores and an assortment of fast-food restaurants but no full-size grocery stores,” Kilgore says. The Mandela Grocery Cooperative opened in 2009 and was the first grocery store on its street since the 1960s.

Co-operative models also present opportunities to return agency to community members. Adams explains that Black people are sometimes viewed only as consumers in the food system. “But we don’t talk about Black people also as producers of food,” she tells Food Tank.

Mark Winston Griffith, Vice Chair of the Central Brooklyn Food Coop (CBFC) Board of Directors, says the co-op dismantles the idea that food is “something that needs to be given to us, but really, as an expression and an assertion of our own power, our own genius, our own creativity, our ability to do for ourselves—to build institutions that are going to sustain us and literally feed us,” he says.

Through a co-op model, Black people become owners and take on management roles. “The process of building a co-op turned us into co-creators or protagonists in our own story,” Sellassie says.

Adams also sees value in the framework that food co-ops provide for communities. “I do think that the reason why it is so attractive is, in some ways, it is very flexible.” Gem City Market, for example, responds to the changing needs of the community by offering variety. From generic to name brands, co-op consumers can choose what best fulfills their financial needs.

“The thing about the cooperative model is that it does allow you to address what your community needs.” Adams tells Food Tank.

Co-ops have served Black communities in the U.S. for generations, as Jessica Gordon Nemhard details in her book Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice. During slavery, the Black community often pooled economic resources to pay for burials, illnesses and treatments, and even freedom. And following the Civil War, the Colored Farmers’ National Alliance and Co-operative Union was established when the Southern Farmers’ Alliance excluded Black farmers.

In the present day, 167 co-ops have opened across the U.S. since 2006, FCI reports. Among these are the Black-led co-ops, like Gem City Market, Mandela Grocery Cooperative, and the CBFC. “We’re kind of pioneering a new way,” Sellassie tells Food Tank. More are slated to open soon, including the Detroit People’s Food Co-op, Fertile Ground in Raleigh, and the SoLA Food Co-op in Los Angeles.

“Time and time again people keep coming back to this model,” Adams tells Food Tank.

Adams anticipates momentum growing around the movement as more people are exposed to the possibilities of co-ops as alternative economic models. “I think because there are more Black co-ops organizing, there’s more evidence that Black people can organize food co-ops,” she says.

While Black-led co-ops are certainly making an impact within their communities, “the story remains to be told in a larger context,” Adams tells Food Tank.

“Black co-ops are a way to build not only solidarity, but self-determination,” Sellassie tells Food Tank. “It’s building power.”

Articles like the one you just read are made possible through the generosity of Food Tank members. Can we please count on you to be part of our growing movement? Become a member today by clicking here.

Photo courtesy of Scott Warman, Unsplash

The post Black-led Food Co-ops Restore Justice, Hope, and Power appeared first on Food Tank.

Categories: A3. Agroecology

Is Corporate Consolidation Leading to Higher Egg Prices?

Food Tank - Fri, 01/27/2023 - 14:16

The advocacy group Farm Action recently released an open letter calling on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate increasing egg prices. 

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the price of a dozen large grade A eggs has skyrocketed from US$1.788 in December of 2021 to US$4.250 one year later. Culling of poultry populations due to the outbreak of avian flu—which hit flocks particularly hard in the spring of 2022 and again in the fall—is partly to blame for the increase. 

But Farm Action alleges that price gouging and collusion are the main drivers. And at the heart of the problem, the organization argues, is the fact that power lies in the hands of a few industry actors.

While the egg sector is less consolidated than the pork and beef industries, Cal-Maine Foods controls 20 percent of the egg market in the United States. The top 10 largest companies are responsible for more than half of all egg production in the country. According to advocates at Farm Action, this power has allowed companies to engage in price coordination, price gouging, and other unfair practices, pushing egg prices higher. 

To read more about rising egg prices, avian flu, and corporate consolidation check out this Forbes op-ed.

Articles like the one you just read are made possible through the generosity of Food Tank members. Can we please count on you to be part of our growing movement? Become a member today by clicking here.

Photo courtesy of Damon Lam, Unsplash

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Categories: A3. Agroecology

Dominican Republic | Video: CLOC-Via Campesina XVII Continental Youth Camp

Dozens of young people from different provinces of the Dominican Republic and international delegates from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Nicaragua, Mexico, Guatemala and the United States gathered in the municipality of Peralta, Azua province, Dominican Republic, to celebrate the XVII Youth Camp of the Latin American Coordination of Rural Organizations, CLOC-Via Campesina.

The activity took place from August 25 to 28, 2022, with the aim of promoting the formation and reaffirmation of the principles of CLOC Via Campesina, as well as to exchange productive experiences, celebrate our Latin American and Caribbean culture, cultivate the mystique and strengthen the peasant struggles of the regions of our territories. Below is a video that reports on this enriching experience for our youth.

The post Dominican Republic | Video: CLOC-Via Campesina XVII Continental Youth Camp appeared first on Via Campesina English.

You Can’t Improve What You Don’t Measure: The Data Shaping U.S. Food Systems

Food Tank - Thu, 01/26/2023 - 08:42

The deadline to respond to the 2022 Census of Agriculture is approaching, but U.S. farmers and ranchers still have the opportunity to ensure their voices are heard and help shape future food and farming policy.

Conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA NASS), the Census is a complete count of all the country’s farms, ranches, and the people who operate them. The deadline to respond is February 6, 2023.

Including farms of all sizes in rural and urban areas, the survey captures data on land use and ownership, production practices, and income. It also illuminates the changing demographics of farmers and ranchers, providing information on the number of women operators, the age of producers, the number of veterans working in agriculture, and more. 

“When legislators are drafting a farm bill or other legislation, they want to know: How many people will this affect? How many farms or ranches will this impact? And a Census of Agriculture provides them a great data set to use,” says Mark Schleusener, Illinois State Statistician for the NASS.

For young people pursuing or interested in careers in agriculture, the information from the Census can prove particularly important. The average age of U.S. producers was 57.5 years in 2017 when the survey was last conducted, up 1.2 years from 2012. 

“For young people, getting access to land and capital is very difficult, so we are tracking new and beginning farmers with the Census of Agriculture,” Schleusener says. “And another part of USDA, the Farm Service Agency is helping to provide…easier methods of getting a loan for someone who’s new.”

The Census of Agriculture also evolves to include new topics based on feedback they received following previous surveys. This year’s questionnaire, for example, includes new questions on internet access.

Schleusener explains that the USDA has prompted farmers to answer whether or not they have had an internet connection “for years.” But in the latest survey, they’re trying to gain a better understanding of whether producers rely on a cellular data plan, broadband, or satellite, and check all that apply.

“There are lots and lots of smart young people out in the rural areas, and if they had a good internet connection, they could have a really good job. And without that connection, maybe they can’t,” Schleusener tells Food Tank. “And in terms of the farm business, maybe it’s a little bit harder to purchase supplies or to market their commodities.”

The survey also includes new questions around hemp production, which has “recently become a USDA sponsored or endorsed crop,” Schleusener says, as well as precision agriculture and hair sheep. 

Over the next year, the NASS will sift through and analyze the results of their survey. “It takes us a while to be very careful with that data and examine all the outliers, double check things, maybe recontact people if we’re uncertain as to whether the data are correct,” Schleusener says.

The results of the Census will be publicly available by the spring of 2024. 

Listen to the full conversation with Mark Schleusener on “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg” to hear about the USDA’s utilization of the 2017 Census of Agriculture to create tax breaks for producers engaging in agritourism, how the NASS ensures they are reaching all farmers and ranchers, and helping veterans transition into agriculture.

Articles like the one you just read are made possible through the generosity of Food Tank members. Can we please count on you to be part of our growing movement? Become a member today by clicking here.

Photo courtesy of Heather Gill, Unsplash

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Categories: A3. Agroecology

Call to Support Migrant Workers Threatened With Eviction in El Walili (Níjar, Spain)

January 25, 2023

Migrant agricultural workers in Nijar (Almeria, Spain) are facing eviction from the El Walili camp, as local authorities have set a demolition date for January 30th. We are calling on our members and supporters to take action to defend these workers and their right to safe and secure accommodation.

Spain is responsible for supplying around a quarter of the UK’s fresh produce imports, as well as 32 per cent of all the vegetables and 20 per cent of all the fruit sold in the country. Much of this imported produce comes from Almeria, Andalucía, famous for its “sea of plastic” concentration of greenhouses.

The volume of produce from Almeria reaching the UK is growing, with Britain displacing France as the second destination for exports in 2021. Nijar is a municipality on the outskirts of Almería in Southern Spain. It is a centre of agricultural production, especially organic. Níjar is home to some 2,000 of the 4,400 hectares of organic production in the province of Almería and is the location of many big exporting companies such as Bio Sabor, Haciendas Bio, Biosol, and SAT Costas de Níjar. Nijar is currently the site of a struggle between the worker residents of the El Wallili shanty town, and the local council, which intends to demolish the homes of 500 people without offering workers alternative accommodation.

Growing production and growing misery

Agricultural production in the Almeria region is only possible thanks to the work of immigrants from Morocco, sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe. They represent 90% of the 120,000 personnel working in the greenhouses. Low wages, intermittent employment and precariousness mean that many agricultural workers cannot find housing that is commensurate with their financial means and must live in the “chabolas”, shanty towns made of plastic pallets and tarpaulins where several thousand people live in total. This figure is constantly rising, as is the value of exports from the agricultural companies in which these people work: over 3 billion euros worth of produce was exported from Almeria last year. 

But these shacks are always under threat of being burnt down by the authorities or companies, who consider that they give a bad image of Almeria. The former manager of the employers’ association COEXPHAL, Juan Colomina, states that “the shacks generate a very bad image for us in the European market, with consumers who are very sensitive to the issue”. 

El Wallili

El Wallili is the biggest chabola in the municipality of Níjar, with more than 500 people living there. Most residents are migrant farmworkers. It was established 15 years ago and is located in a strategic site between the greenhouses where they work. The local government provides El Wallili with no means of transportation, no water, no electricity, and no garbage collection. An agreement signed in 2000 between the local authorities, unions, and agribusinesses which committed these bodies to the construction of decent housing has never been fulfilled.

Living conditions in El Wallili

Demolition of El Wallili planned with no alternative offer

In November 2022, the municipal government of Nijar began the administrative process of demolition the El Wallili chabola, with no alternative accommodation being offered. This was escalated on Thursday 19th January with notice of demolition being given by the council, and delivered by the Local Police, for 30th January. In public statement, the Mayor of Nijar Esperenza Perez has stated this demolition is due to the terrible living conditions for residents. But in other statements, she has echoed the fruit and vegetable and tourism employers, who allege that the chabolas harm the brand of their products and services, as a reason for the demolition.  

To resist this act, 9 unions and social movements have formed the Derecho a Techo (Right to a Roof) coalition. Right to a Roof demands that no demolition take place without the construction of decent alternative accommodation first, and have supporting the residents’ struggle against the eviction through demonstrations, strike actions, and road blockades.

Demonstration of residents against the demolition

In the meeting held between the Nijar municipality and the Right to a Roof Platform on January 12, the Mayoress of Nijar Esperenza Perez guaranteed the rehousing of all the residents of El Walili before doing the eviction. However, the only communication that the inhabitants of this settlement have had has been that of the eviction. Likewise, at the meeting she gave January 30 as the deadline for communication from the City Council about alternative accommodation. However, that is now the date of the demolition. 60 temporary homes are under construction in Los Grillos, but these are without electricity or sanitation and will not be able to house all of El Wallili’s residents. Without attacking the root of the issue, the lack of decent accommodation for workers, the demolition will only result in workers moving to other chabolas, and further hardship for Almeria’s working population. 

Support the fight for “El Wallili”

The Landworkers Alliance, together with other organisations of La Via Campesina, supports the struggle of the inhabitants of the settlement “El Wallili” and the Right to a Roof Platform. The Landworkers’ Alliance asks the authorities of Níjar and Andalusia, the agribusinesses, and Coexphal, the representative of the exporters, to respect the workers who make it possible to produce and export the agricultural products that enrich the entrepreneurs of the region of Níjar and to renounce the demolition – as long as there is no alternative accommodation – and to agree to negotiate with the Platform on this matter.

The Landworkers’ Alliance will inform the British public about the situation in El Wallili as long as no solution has been found to provide decent housing for all inhabitants of El Wallili. As residents of a country which imports vast quantities of produce from Almeria, it is important that we communicate to the authorities in Nijar that their attempt to prettify the image of agroindustry by disappearing its social consequences will not work. 

Various organizations, including La Via Campesina affiliates in Europe and Morocco, have contacted the Office of the Andalusian Ombudsman to protest the inhabitants of El Walili. After learning of this situation, the Ombudsman’s decision has been to initiate a complaint file with the Níjar City Council. 

We urge our members and supporters to write emails to express their indignation. A model text is can be found here. The email addresses for the relevant authorities is as follow:

Solidarity is strength! Globalise the Struggle, Globalise Hope!

by Catherine McAndrew, Land Workers’ Alliance (LWA) Migrant Solidarity Campaign Coordinator

The post Call to Support Migrant Workers Threatened With Eviction in El Walili (Níjar, Spain) appeared first on Via Campesina English.

Cracking Down on Egg Industry’s Excuses: It’s Price Gouging

Family Farm Action - Wed, 01/25/2023 - 13:54

Countless news outlets are abuzz with news of sky-high egg prices — but they’re burying the lede: Egg companies have somehow managed to rake in record profits while bellyaching about avian flu and inflation.

Let’s take a look at Cal-Maine Foods, the largest producer and distributor of eggs in the United States. The company increased its gross profit margins five-fold after drastically raising the price of its eggs. If avian flu and inflation are so heavily impacting egg supply and production costs, why are Cal-Maine’s profits skyrocketing? It’s time to unravel the egg industry’s scheme.

Egg Prices Are Soaring

After enduring a year of crushing inflation rates, consumers are still getting squeezed everywhere they turn. Americans faced a nearly 12 percent increase in grocery prices over the last year, but shocking egg prices have captured the nation’s attention in recent weeks. The average cost of a carton of eggs has increased by 138 percent up to $4.25 a dozen — more than double the price from this time last year.

The Excuses

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about the abusive corporations controlling our food system, it’s that they love a good “market disruptor” to justify swindling money from consumers and farmers to line shareholders’ pockets. While consumers have become increasingly cash-strapped since the pandemic, corporations have enjoyed their most profitable two years since 1950 as their profits jumped 35 percent.

Take for example the fire at Tyson’s Holcomb, Kansas meatpacking plant, which served as an excuse for beef packers to raise retail prices and cut the price paid to cattle producers — even though more cattle were processed in the weeks following the fire than before it. Or we can look to the fertilizer industry, which used excuses like shortages to hike up their prices. All the while, their own financial reports revealed they had additional capacity they were not utilizing.

The egg industry blames avian flu and inflation for increasing egg prices. These problems are certainly real — about 43 million egg-laying hens were lost due to the avian flu through December 2022, and input costs for producers have increased. But this begs the question — how are egg companies raking in so much money in light of these costly strains?

The Math Doesn’t Add up

Cal-Maine’s net average selling price for a dozen conventional eggs increased by 150.5 percent from a year ago. But the excuses for this price hike don’t stand up to the facts.

The USDA’s reporting refutes the egg industry’s narrative that the avian flu significantly decreased egg supply in the months following outbreaks. The average size of egg-laying flocks never dropped more than six to eight percent lower than it was a year prior. Moreover, the effect of the loss of egg-laying hens on production was itself blunted by “record-high” lay rates throughout the year, which increased by one to four percent. And there’s one other critical piece missing from this industry narrative — Cal-Maine, which controls 20 percent of the egg market, hasn’t reported a single case of avian flu at any of its facilities. 

The lack of price competition from rival egg companies during this time adds further questions about current market dynamics within the egg industry. The USDA expected these market conditions would lead to increased egg production as rival egg companies would step in to capture some of that market share — but by December 2022, it was clear that it never materialized. When market dynamics don’t work as they’re expected to, it’s indicative of possible collusion between companies to keep prices high.

The egg industry has also deployed the reliable “inflation” excuse from its toolbox to justify its price hikes. Feed and fuel costs have indeed increased. Yet Cal-Maine’s own documents indicate that increased production costs did not justify their excessive increase in the price of eggs. In a presentation to investors just this month, Cal-Maine noted that total farm production and feed costs in 2022 were only 22 percent higher than they were in 2021.

Farm Action’s letter calling for an investigation into potential price gouging was featured on the Today Show.

Passing the Cost on to Consumers – and Then Some

The egg industry appears to be exaggerating the impact of avian flu and inflation to justify their price hikes, all so they can quietly (or so they hoped) boost their profits. Let’s call this what it is: price gouging. It’s time to investigate the egg industry and dispel its narratives.

Farm Action, in support of the Biden Administration’s “whole of government approach” to antitrust enforcement, is calling on the FTC, DOJ, and USDA to coordinate their efforts to investigate and hold accountable any major egg companies engaging in price gouging or other deceptive practices. We are also encouraging state attorneys general to take action to protect their consumers against these abusive companies.

We’re fighting back against the industry’s narratives in the mainstream media to ensure greedy egg corporations can’t get away with taking advantage of consumers. Thanks to the coverage that our letter to the FTC generated on thousands of news outlets — including the Today Show, Reuters, Time, Fox Business, Vice, Yahoo Finance, CNBC, The Hill, AP, The Guardian, and CNN — these companies’ record profits and excuses are being exposed.

The American people shouldn’t be on the hook for padding the egg industry’s wallets. This isn’t over until somebody investigates.

Written and edited by: Jessica Cusworth, Dee Laninga, Angela Huffman, Joe Maxwell, and Basel Musharbash

The post Cracking Down on Egg Industry’s Excuses: It’s Price Gouging first appeared on Farm Action.
Categories: A3. Agroecology

Global Forum for Food and Agriculture: La Via Campesina defends seed diversity, calls for stricter regulation of genetic engineering

“Only with the diversity inherent to peasant agriculture can the sustainable transformation of food
systems succeed” – Peasant Youth of La Via Campesina

A delegation of young peasant leaders from La Via Campesina, Chengeto Muzira (ZIMSOFF, Zimbabwe), Tyler Short (FFD, USA) and Inka Baumgart (AbL, Germany) attended the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture held in Berlin between 18-21 January 2023. On the 21st of January the young peasants delegation, as well as other members from LVC coming from Brazil, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria and Wales also joined a public demonstration (We’re Fed Up!) that drew attention to the farming and food crisis plaguing much of the world and the inability of governments to defend peasant and indigenous communities. The visiting delegation of La Via Campesina was hosted by Arbeitgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft (AbL), LVC’s German member organization.

In a scathing critique, they denounced the Ministerial Delegations and their governments for doing “too little, too slowly” and giving “too many concessions to the agricultural industry and the profiteers of the existing industrial food system.”

They warned that no ambitious action taken means an increase of inequality and injustice. “Nothing demonstrates the extreme rise in inequality more dramatically than the 828 million chronically hungry people. At the same time, the profits of agri-food corporations continue to grow.”

The delegation reminded the Forum that seeds are public commons and that for over 10,000 years, farmers everywhere had been selecting, exchanging, storing and selling seeds. They rued the attempts by Corporations, aided by friendly governments, in appropriating and privatizing peasant seeds and criminalizing peasant-seed systems. Seeds are central to ensuring a region’s food sovereignty, they noted. “Many farmers have lost their seed sovereignty and are now dependent on multinational seed companies, which determine which seeds with which characteristics are marketed. These developments are fatal and hamper the realization of the right to food and overcoming hunger. At the same time, this dependence leads to uniformity in the fields and thus threatens biodiversity.” they noted.

Chengeto Muzira of the Zimbabwean Small Holder Organic Farmers’ Forum, one of the young peasant leaders who attended the summit, said:

“Seed biopiracy occurs when rich people and corporations steal local seeds and commercialise them for profit. This theft is done by buying up local and national gene banks and all the research facilities associated with them. With access to local seeds, patents are developed that make the seeds less accessible to farmers, especially peasants and other small-scale farmers”.

Read Chengeto’s full speech here.

The delegation also warned that a powerful lobby comprising transnational corporations and technical and scientific associations is working to exempt new genetic engineering processes from regulation under EU genetic engineering law.

“This is despite the fact that even the first generation of genetic engineering has not contributed to the fight against hunger but has forced millions of farmers into dependence on agricultural corporations and debt. At the same time, production systems have been established based on genetically engineered pesticide-tolerant plants and place an extreme burden on biodiversity, ” the protesting youth said.

In the letter to the Ministers, La Via Campesina and allies have called upon the Ministers to develop global inclusive responses within the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) framework based on the right to food that addresses the worsening world food, climate and biodiversity crisis”.

They demanded strengthening peasant rights as provided for by the International Seed Treaty (ITPGRFA) and Peasants’ Rights Declaration (UNDROP) by reforming national and regional seed legislation and making UNDROP a central part of any policy processes. They also called upon the Forum to discontinue efforts to deregulate products of the new genomic techniques, as is currently being discussed in the EU and various countries.

Photo Credit: Wir haben es satt!/Meine Landwirtschaft/Flickr

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Washington Corner January 2023

National Farmers Union - Tue, 01/24/2023 - 07:58
Following a productive two years on Capitol Hill, the 118th Congress was set to be sworn in shortly after noon on January 3. However, disagreement and dissent in Congress resulted in some initial delays. The Senate started business right on time. However, the House had a lengthy holdup due to a drawn-out debate and election […]
Categories: A3. Agroecology

UNDROP Thematic Booklet No. 4: “Peasants as Political Subjects” – Now Available

The fourth Thematic Booklet on “Peasants as Political Subjects” is now available! This is the last of four thematic booklets—part of the popular education materials to be used as a crucial step in reconnecting those who inspired and created United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in the Rural Areas (UNDROP).

This final booklet in the series – peasants as political subjects – brings us to the core purpose of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP): defining rights for a distinct social group of diverse, marginalized people. This marginalization by capitalist, colonial, imperialist, and heteropatriarchal forces and the constant threats to peasant lives and livelihoods will continue to provoke political responses and actions, therefore peasants as a group can be considered political subjects. There are many articles in the UNDROP that speak directly to the rights that must be upheld to ensure peasants are respected and our political voices are heard and demands are implemented in the face of repression and rights violations.

The popular educational materials will help us to effectively use the UNDROP in our struggles to assert and advance our collective and individual rights. They will help to create broader awareness, promote deeper understanding and enhance capacities (through training) of rural people’s movements. We should use this booklet as a foundational tool to ensure that the UNDROP will be respected, implemented and promoted at all levels, from local to international, from community customs to policymaking mechanisms. The UNDROP popular educational materials are being developed by La Via Campesina and FIAN International. Access them all here.

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The post UNDROP Thematic Booklet No. 4: “Peasants as Political Subjects” – Now Available appeared first on Via Campesina English.

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