Last week, I attended Occupy Oakland’s general strike. It was a very positive experience for me. Although the movement is rooted in a deep frustration and sense of injustice, the protesters were optimistic and peaceful. On Friday, I will be helping to maintain a tent co-hosted by People’s Grocery, a food justice organization, and other local non-profits and activist groups.
The message of the food justice movement is perfectly in keeping with the message of the occupy movement. At its heart, the occupy movement is an expression of the belief that our society has erected too many barriers between its citizens and a comfortable standard of living. With the banking scandals, student loan debt, exploitative corporate practices, undue corporate influence in Washington, a lack of sufficient and affordable healthcare, and a lack of well paying jobs, it is simply too difficult for the “average” American to create a lifestyle that is comfortable, healthy, and stable.
A part of this is the fact that, due to the factors I mentioned, many Americans cannot afford healthy food. Processed foods filled with fat, sugar, and artificial ingredients are much cheaper and more prevalent than high quality, whole foods. One’s health should not be dependent upon one’s income. The 99% should not have to pay an undue percentage of their income to maintain a healthy diet. If corporations would pay their employees fairly – and if they would be barred from contributing outrageous sums of money to candidates who are likely to support industrial farm and chemical lobbies – it would not be so difficult for most Americans to afford healthy food.
The way our culture has come to value material gain over basic human decency affects nearly all areas of our lives – from our ability to find well paying jobs to our access to healthcare. And certainly, one of the areas that is deeply influenced by the cultural values against which the Occupy Movement is demonstrating is our diet.
Image Credit: Nathan Jongewaard via Flickr