From recruiting student volunteers to writing op-ed columns on national policies, food activists are alive and well … and growing stronger. Over the last year, we’ve spoken with several well-known book authors, educators, community organizers and non-profit organizations about activism in the food movement. Here’s what they had to say:
Anna Lappé is one of the most influential voices in the food movement today.
An internationally respected author and educator, Lappé is known as an expert on food systems and as a sustainable food advocate. She is the co-author/author of three books and contributing author to ten others.
Lappé is the founding principal of Small Planet Institute and Small Planet Fund. She currently leads the Real Food Media Project, an initiative to spread the story of sustainable food using creative movies, an online action center and grassroots events. Read about the 2016 Real Food Film Project.
“I think one of the best ways to positively impact the food system is to connect with what’s happening in your own community and get involved. What’s so exciting about food system change is that it’s everywhere. Interested in urban planning? Public health? Social work? Business? Law? Agriculture? There are connections in all these fields to what we eat.”
Roger Doiron knows there are many ways to get involved.
He is founder and director of Kitchen Gardeners International (KGI), a Maine-based nonprofit network of members from 120 countries who are taking a hands-on approach to (re)localizing the food supply through gardening.
To encourage a White House Kitchen Garden, his “Eat the View” effort in 2008 gathered over 100,000 signatures; earned national and international media coverage; and was named grand prize winner of “On Day One” contest sponsored by the United Nations Foundation.
“From 2008 to 2011, we evolved into a campaigning organization taking on a number of high profile campaigns, most notably the online campaign for replanting a kitchen garden at the White House. Since 2012, we’ve turned our attention to empowering disadvantaged populations to grow their own food through our Sow It Forward garden grants program. Our network now includes 35,000 gardeners who are ready to help in different ways.”
Michael Pollan wants a national food policy.
The award-winning journalist is a prolific author and a professor at the University of California Berkeley. Pollan has been called an “ethical-eating guru” (New York Magazine). He was named to the 2010 TIME 100, the magazine’s annual list of the world’s 100 most influential people. He remains one of the most compelling and influential voices of our time and a thought leader on many subjects, including food, agriculture, environment, health and public policy.
“We (Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Ricardo Salvador and Olivier De Schutter) put forward in The Washington Post an op-ed piece that proposed a national food policy idea. The response to the piece demonstrated that feeding everyone healthy food and providing a living wage for workers in the food system is something everyone can get behind. Working out the details and emphases might bring disagreement. So a starting point might be having the creation of a national food policy as a goal and pushing for it. And it needs to become a White House priority, just like national security, environmental policy or health policy.”
Real Food Challenge (RFC) believes students are ideal for activism.
The organization leverages the power of students and universities to create a “healthy, fair and green food system.” RFC has changed the food and sustainability landscape on campuses throughout the nation in significant ways. In 2011, Real Food summits around the nation brought together 1,400 students and stakeholders. Students trained and supported by the organization won $45 million in commitments for targeted purchasing…including a policy for the University of California system.
Here’s what Katie Blanchard, Midwest Regional Coordinator, told us:
“Students are in a position to advocate and organize in unique ways, within the community of a university campus – and it would be a shame to not take advantage of these opportunities, or fail to build on the powerful history of student organizing and … organizing for food and farm justice. People want to see universities be accountable to their communities and the food system.”
We’ll continue to watch the activism of these individuals and organizations, as well as others.
You might like this interview about sustainability with Joe Lamp’l of the national PBS TV program “Growing a Greener World.”
Don’t miss this Q&A with Maria Rodale, CEO and Chairman of Rodale, Inc.