Tag Archive: economy



INDIAN RURAL LIFE - A woman herding two cows.

A woman herding two cows. Credit: Vijayamurthy sadagopalan

With more than 800 million people living in extreme poverty and many more struggling to make an honest living, it is clear that the current global economic model isn’t working for everyone. Economic growth often comes at the expense of the majority, with short-term financial gains trumping long-term sustainability. The current global obsession with economic growth, alongside the enormous over-consumption enjoyed by the wealthiest people on the planet, has brought us all to the brink of catastrophic climate change.

Earthrise presenter Ndoni Khanyile travels to Burkina Faso where farmers are embracing agroecology as a means of feeding the most vulnerable and visits villagers in Uttar Pradesh in India, who are turning to solar microgrids for energy.

Watch the video at: Another Giant Leap – Al Jazeera English


Image of workers cleaning and sorting pineapples.

Source: Consumers International

Here’s a quick post on the situation in Costa Rica about pineapple union workers and exploitation they face: Banana Workers’ Strike Highlights Abuses by Corporations in Costa Rica

Consumers International also has a case study on pineapples, which investigates working conditions in the pineapple industry and its impact on communities and the environment in Costa Rica.

As a consumer, what do with this information? Do you choose to continue to financially support exploitation because it’s more convenient? Do you search for alternatives, or give up whatever it is? When you know better, do you do better? Let me know in the comments.


The racial privilege of voting with your dollars to create a "good food" system

The racial privilege of voting with your dollars to create a “good food” system

This text-heavy infographic from the Sistah Vegan Project complicates a often-spouted mantra: vote with your dollars. I must admit, I have used this phrase when I explain why I use my class privilege to purchase foods that are ethically-sourced and less environmentally detrimental than conventional goods. I’m aware that to say (and act) so is indeed a privilege—if you live in a food desert with hardly any fresh veggies, it’s not practical or practicable to assert that one should “vote” for organic tofu and kale over french fries at McDonalds. But I hadn’t thought of the racial implications to this mantra: if you live in a white supremacist country that intentionally seeks to incarcerated the descendants of slaves, voting (literally and with one’s money) is definitely impacted by race, not only class.

Check out the image and the listed sources for a more in-depth analysis of these issues: The Racial Privilege of Voting With Your Dollars to Create a ‘Good Food’ System |via Sistah Vegan Project


A chard leaf surrounded by text,

A chard leaf with the caption, “Local and Organic Chard Can Be Delivered using a Smartphone or Tablet…But was it made possible through gentrification, farm-worker exploitation, or racial injustice?”

Dr. Amie “Breeze” Harper, a senior research analyst/strategist for Critical Diversity Solutions (CDS) and intersectional food justice theorist, writes about the gap between tech innovation, venture capital funding, foodie culture, and labor/human rights:

Most people who are into mainstream ‘foodie’ culture care more about their food being ‘local’, ‘fresh’, and ‘organic’ than if the food came to them through the abuse and exploitation of farm workers and other marginalized human workers in the food system.

Many foodies actually think organic and sustainable mean the treatment of human beings and non-human animals is ‘humane,’ which is false. What would be great to have from Blue Apron is a statement that acknowledges the need to be more critical about horrible treatment of human workers.

So far, such statements are no where on their site, however, once
again, it could very well be that investors do not want to appear to be ‘too political’ and prefer to be ‘post-racial’ and ‘post-class’. Yes,
their focus is not farm-workers or other food industry worker rights.

However, the silence around this is quite compelling because the fact is, foodie-tech start-ups could not exist without the human laborers in the food system.

However, I’m still always fascinated by the fact that millions of dollars can be poured into foodie-tech apps by venture
capitalists when food justice activists working in/for the poor and
communities of color, with hardly any resources, struggle like hell to create food security and/or sovereignty for themselves.

Read her full post over at her website, The Sistah Vegan Project.

7/30 UPDATE: Check out her update here, where Dr. Harper announces her theme for next year’s food justice conference.


Black "Eat Your Ethics" tote bag from Food Empowerment Project

Black “Eat Your Ethics” tote bag from Food Empowerment Project

Water privatization, overgrazing, pesticides, food security. These are clearly issues of sustainability with regards to our food systems. Yet, the term “sustainability” doesn’t quite adequately address related issues of labor rights, food access, and environmental racism that are also part of the path that our food takes to get to our plate.

This is where food justice comes in. Food justice is a holistic, equitable, and intersectional approach to food systems and a welcome alternative to the growing food movement that led by some of the most privileged individuals around.

There are many great organizations working on food justice issues. I’m particularly impressed with Food Empowerment Project and had been meaning to write about the organization for a while. Founded by activist lauren Ornelas in 2006, F.E.P. seeks to promote a more just and sustainable world by informing consumers of the impact their food choices have on other people, animals, and the environment. One of my earliest exposures to F.E.P.’s work came when I was first seeking ethical alternatives to conventional slave-made chocolate.

F.E.P. is perhaps best known for its Chocolate List, a resource that many chocolate-lovers have come to rely on for ethical sources for chocolate. I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know lauren and even help represent F.E.P. at community outreach events. She is what I wish I could be, and F.E.P. the organization I wish I had founded. F.E.P.’s approach to food justice addresses all the issues that are impacted by our current food systems: animals, the environment, human labor and slavery, and our food choices. Not only does F.E.P. take an intersectional approach to food justice, but the information material is very accessible and informative.

Check out the F.E.P. website FoodIsPower.org

 


Pile of empty Coke bottles

Empty Coca-Cola bottles. Source: Eco Chunk

On a recent online forum, a friend commented on the curiously idealistic perspectives that advocates hold about food as compared to agribusiness. Often, you’ll hear health advocates, environmental conservationists, an animal advocates talk about “individual food choices”and the drop-in-the-bucket impact they have to eventually, someday move modern society into a more sustainable future. Conversely, as this friend explained, agribusiness interests “most certainly do not see global consumption patterns as a matter of individual consumer choice and have a very deliberate agenda to reshape consumption patterns in the global south.”

Among the articles he posted, Mexico: Public Health, Rising Obesity and the NAFTA Effect, explained how global economics, health, and environmental sustainability intersect to create the current conditions in Mexico:

“trade liberalization also plays a huge role in what food is accessible in developing countries. After NAFTA was implemented in 1994, the number of unhealthy food products from the United States to Mexico increased substantially. A spike also took place in the amount of raw soy and corn imports: two products used to make highly processed foods and feed livestock.

In 2011, Mexicans consumed 172 liters per capita of Coke, compared to the 1991 pre-NAFTA level of 69 liters per capita. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the consumption of animal fat in Mexico increased from about 34.7 grams per capita per day in 1991 to 46.9 grams per capita per day in 2009. A recent study linked these and other resulting dietary changes with an unsettlingly high 12 percent increase in obesity in Mexico between 2000 and 2006. Though obviously an unintended consequence of NAFTA, this shows that trade can actually impact public health.

The article is an important read, especially since as consumers, we rarely know the full picture of what goes into our food—including the trade agreements, subsidies, and short- and long-term health effects.

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