March 27, 2012

FOOD & AG: Undoing Racism in the Food System

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“Unite and Fight, Healthy Food is a Basic Human Right!” read the shirts worn by dozens of Walkers for Wellness on a five-mile route through Ithaca this past October.“Unite and Fight, Healthy Food is a Basic Human Right!” read the shirts worn by dozens of Walkers for Wellness on a five-mile route through Ithaca this past October.

Touring the Ithaca Farmers Market, the Waterfront Trail, and several community gardens from Southside to Northside, we were reminded of the incredible abundance of places to be outdoors and local healthy food.

Not all of us are so lucky though. In Tompkins county alone, about 13,000 people, or, 12.6 percent, are considered Food Insecure — that is, unablel to afford food that is nutritious and culturally desirable.

If modern genetics has shown that race as a biological difference doesn’t really exist. How then does food security relate to race as a social construct in the food system?

One way is to think about how the current dominant food system got start here in this country – through the systematic oppression and cultural genocide of Native American communities heralded by laws such as the Homestead Act of 1862. Today, echos of now-banned legalized discrimination can still be hear loudly in many US cities and states where denied loans, tilted house deeds, and economic development plans have left communities of colors with no access to affordable and healthy food.

According to Malik Yakini, founder and executive director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, “Socioeconomic position and social class permeate every aspect of life and have a cumulative (sometimes generational) effect on health status throughout the life cycle”, it seems no coincidence that the prevalence of obesity in children and adults is highest among ethnic minorities, especially Native Americans, Hispanics, and African Americans.

One thing people in Ithaca can do, is to directly address the historical legacy of racism in the work they do and work to understand the “good food revolution” as part of the larger movement for freedom, justice and equality.

A documentary about Yakini and his work is currently available on loan in Mann Library. The film, Urban Roots, documents the rise of urban agriculture and community self-determination.

For more information on the Food Justice Summit see and future “Good Food Revolution” events in the Ithaca Community, check out:

www.rso.cornell.edu/nwaeg

http://www.greenstarcommunityprojects.org/Projects.html

www.groundswellcenter.org

For more information on Malik Yakini and his work see:

http://detroitblackfoodsecurity.org/

http://www.foodandsocietyfellows.org/about/fellow/malik-yakini

http://www.democracynow.org/appearances/malik_yakini

For more information on Food Security and Sovereignty check out:

http://www.who.int/trade/glossary/story028/en/

Video on Food Sovereignty – La Via Campesina

Best Brands of Garcinia Cambogia

Sam Bosco is a graduate student. He may be reached at sfb42@cornell.edu. The Missing Link: Food & Ag appears on Wednesdays.

Original Author: Sam Bosco