Family Farm Defenders (Kansas Chapter)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Gardens, Charity, Hunger, and Capitalism (Draft notes for thought)

Draft. Notes from an online discussion with Laurell Sims of Chicago Growing Power.

 I would love to talk to you about what you are all doing. 

Here wherever local food is grown it is very expensive so people in the very neighborhoods it is grown, still can't afford it. Just like supermarkets, you can live right next door to one, but if you ain't got the cash, you ain't got the food or anything else. 

Would love to know more about how you all work to circumvent price.

If you are giving the food away and essentially are a charity, my concern is why are we (American society) leaving something as important as healthy food and nutrition, up to charity. I am proposing a wholesale reform of our socioeconomic system by which our society's resources, in essence, are distributed. 

Your point that just because there is enough food doesn't mean it is good food, which I take to mean healthy food, is well taken and one I would like to look at more. I also get your it is not either/ or argument as well; however, my problem with this is I believe our society is hoodwinking well-intentioned folks like you and most of the American people into programs and policies which essentially leave the issue of the tremendous hunger our food, agriculture and socioeconomic systems are creating up to charity essentially through charity funded food banks and gardening projects.

 Not only is "charity" no match for more hungry people now than since the great depression, but why should we, the American people, leave this important health issue which threatens every aspect of our society, productivity, utilization of human resources, equity, economic growth, up to charity and why should we let so many people, children and families go hungry. But moreover, why should we not alter the very system which is creating food and all other types of apartheid in our country (and world) before it is too late and we can't turn back the tide of gross inequity our food, ag and socioeconomic policies and practices have created.

And of course all of this has huge racial, gender, child and senior citizen impacts. 

When you consider that already most of our nation's births  are of Indigenous, Black, Latino, and Asian and "mixed-race" babies, and that it is some of these groups who are grossly disproportionately impacted by hunger, leaving "hunger" to charity while subsidizing unhealthy processed food production through enormous subsidies to the big corporate "food" producers, appears to be a "policy" that will further enhance class, racial and other divides in our country, essentially creating a food and health apartheid.  It is this development which has prompted organizations like Policy Link and Center for the American Progress to call for "equity as the superior growth model."

 Finally, neoliberalism has become our government policy in recent decades; it is as I understand it,(and not well) the very policy of shifting important socioeconomic policies that meet the people's needs, ( our human, citizen, child development,  food and nutrition, education and health, needs) to charity, while  spending our American tax dollars on military expansion for example.

 So for me it isn't at about either /or, but it is about understanding policies which are essentially shifting important human welfare policies from the government, which is beefing up military spending and corporate subsidies, while then leaving those important issues to charity which is completely inadequate to address the issue. 

The first Bush I believe and Reagan began this process and you can see where it has taken us--to greater and greater inequality--including healthy food, hunger and poverty. More Americans than ever before living in poverty while we have increased wealth.A global system of apartheid as well.

Finally my concern about local food being healthier is that the cost then makes it unaffordable to all but a small "food elite," which is the problem in the USA; food and everything else apartheid. We have two America's essentially (and two worlds) , the haves and the have nots.  

You get only the life, food, health, education, environment etc you can afford and it creates the haves and the have nots. I think the nonprofit and other support of gardening as a solution to these problems is distracting  us from actually doing the work that would dismantle this apartheid.  Nor will these organizations  fund the work which would dismantle the source of this inequity, privilege and power.

 Consequently, we are in deep doo doo, moving toward a South African style apartheid by 2043 when Indigenous, Black, Latino and Asian communities will make up the majority of the US. Some of these groups, especially Indigenous (including indigenous Latinos) and Blacks and some groups of southeast Asians will be disproportionately hungry, poor, sick, malnourished, dis educated....It will be horrible and the policies  will be there to enforce this segregation. take on the limits of the local and good food movement is they do not address hunger at all because they do not address how food is distributed. It is well accepted that there is already enough food to feed everyone in the world --with some left over, however, the issue is how food is distributed...who gets food...

that is why Cuba is different and its example so important...everyone gets a basic amount of food..(at least in theory...)

 Building the people power to implement real structural solutions to the root causes of hunger for me is the issue; can we build the power to transform our power realtionships with the big corporations that currently prescribe our food and agriculture and most everything else about our lives.. I think we know how to grow food sustainably; we know how to grow plenty of healthy food sustainably even; but we don't have the power to do it. 

For me that is the crux of the work that truly needs to be done: to build the power to make this transformation. 

Furthermore, we already have enough food, but we don't have enough justice; our system of distribution, you pay to eat, isn't fair so many don't eat and even more, the vast majority of us don;t eat healthy, because they don't have the funds. We also have lost the knowledge under assault from corporate advertising, programming, control of the USDA.

A few more houghts...

1. People don't have the funds because our economic and social systems don't work for everyone. In essence this is what we need to reform, but this is the challenge because the current power structure does not want change--of course. But anything else just seems like business s usual to me.

2 Gardens and poverty pimps, Max asks am I am a poverty pimp?

3. Very dubious about an article that claims that the solution to hunger is in your own backyard. Why? Since the main cause of hunger is poverty, it stretches my imagination that hungry people who ostensibly don't have "access to food," as the dominant narrative relates, have access to and and everything it takes to grow their own food, including land, the health it takes to labor, training, markets  and the funds to grow their own food, just for a start.

Neither should the important task of resolving poverty and hunger be left to the insufficient solution of charity in a society which has the funds and resources to invest in social policies but chooses not to.

Furthermore, in poor communities, poverty is accompanied by a host of oppressions: community violence, police and government neglect, lack of education--school closings, mass incarceration and criminalization, evictions, racial, ethnic and class segregation, land grabbing and lack of transportation, to name a few which are part of a system of oppression which keep poor families and children poor and hungry. 

In this kind of environment, gardening is impossible and the gardens themselves are under attack and often destroyed if they even ever get a chance to live.

 Furthermore, many gardens are simply "placed' in these communities as money making ventures by many nonprofits, so called "poverty pimping." This is going on from the local to the global levels, from kc to Nairobi. I have witnessed this and been a part of it, working on a couple occasion for such projects which were not successful at all, but funded the nonprofit.

Poverty pimping and the gardening movement....

"Family gardening, the solution to hunger in your own backyard."  If you have a backyard? Incredulous.

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