Sunday, February 17, 2008

"Strengthening the Roots" - Food, Justice, & Fair Trade - Day Three

An early morning panel turned out to be one of the highlights of my weekend.

"If you work with the ecology rather than substitute, you'll find yourself with greater yields, and not just in the fields." - Eric Holtz Gimenez, Researcher, Activist, and ex-director of Food First, a think tank working to solve the injustices that cause hunger. Gimenez goes on to describe how "everything is designed to separate us - practitioners, educators, researchers, advocates". Political power comes from the extensive, and oftentimes, boring art of organizing. However, Gimenez calls on the power of mobilizing people, finding common projects that people can come together, and a physical place where political spaces can be shared.

"How do you look at the integration of each other and our relationships with the Earth?" questioned Robbie Jaffe, co-ex-director of the Community Agroecology Network. She brought up the concept of "interculterality", in which we're at the opportunity as humankind to look at globalization to reexamine community. In 1986, she got involved with the first California farmers' markets and alternative ways of simply "doing" agriculture. Jaffe finds the power of teaching, learning, and sharing at the heart of educational institutions.

The panel looked at the "agro-divide" in American, at which 36 million people are malnourished. Cheaper, processed food is only available to low-income people. In order for these people to continue their work, they must eat high-carbohydrate, high-salt, and high-everything-else that is subsidized by the government. The panelists called on forging alternatives to provide healthy food to all human beings and act politically to change the industrial agriculture model. Political will is brought out by social movements greater than any industrial movement, regardless of how many Benjamin's in their pockets.

Later in the afternoon, I got the opportunity to go to the Homeless Garden Project in downtown Santa Cruz with Maggie L. of UC Davis.

It was the first time I've seen thyme, oregano, lavender, rosemary, broccoli, and leeks grow from the root.

And nothing beats the end of a weekend in Santa Cruz then a drum circle!

Cheers for now and off to Orange County,

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