Health, Social Change and the Food Movement

August 19, 2009 2 Comments

Yesterday I started writing about health and social change and I alluded to the promises of the food movement and its implications for social transformation. Let me be completely clear – I am not currently affiliated with any formally organized aspect of the food movement. However, as I think about the type of social change that will truly make a difference, the change that keeps people like my father physically healthy while also augmenting our collective experience of freedom, it seems to me that the food movement has a lot to offer.

Industrialized food and the commercialization of edible goods that have no benefit for our bodies is one of the key reasons why Americans are falling ill, poor communities and people of color bear the burden of this problem.  Building movement around food allows us to do a number of things:

  1. It exposes a dark side of capitalism – the conversation around industrialized food is directly connected to the question of disproportionate corporate power over our well being.
  2. It invites a conversation about the environment — Industrialized food is wasteful of energy and water resources.
  3. It invites us to build community – a sustainable response to industrialized food demands that we “go local”
  4. It allows us to become embodied – the conversation moves us away from a purely cognitive approach and invites us to consider our very bodies and very selves, it has the potential to shift movement away from abstraction.
  5. It invites personal responsibility – the conversation highlights the reality of structural oppression while also demanding that each one of us consider how we are individually part of this system with the most important decision we make – what we eat.

It is my belief that an inclusive food movement for exposing serious deficiencies in our current socio-political and economic arrangements while providing a powerful platform for imagining the world we want to build.

Where do I sign up?


  • Curtis says:

    G, check out the New England Grassroots Environment Fund and Chelsea Green! The greatest percentage of grant proposals submitted to NEGEF this year focused on local food production/community gardens. Also, check out this interview with Michael Pollan where he basically states that it’s not about greening up our current agro-industrial complex –

  • Linda says:

    I’m with you Gibrán. Worked a number of years ago, when I was doing AIDS work, setting up a nutrition program for low income people with AIDS – realizing that access to good quality, local food was key to health. Food is the real medicine, after all. We coordinated with the Food Project, a local organic farm that teaches organic gardening, to provide very high quality food – and then had cooking classes and free sessions with a nutritionist so people could learn what their body needed, how to manage side effects of mess with food and supplements, etc. Why don’t we all have that? You’re right – there’s health care! Sign me up too!

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