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The Political is Personal

The Political is Personal

 

On Monday, I had a fascinating conversation with two women who are starting a website about women and politics. But it’s not what you may think.  It’s not a website dedicated to celebrating prominent female politicians, or discussing how various political issues impact the way that women are likely to vote in the upcoming election. Rather, the website will examine how, as women, so many facets of our lives – from what we wear to what we eat – affect and are affected by the political landscape.

When the conversation turned to food, I explained my views on the food justice movement. The reason it has that name is because food is truly a social justice issue.  It is deeply political on all levels. Food is genetically modified and sprayed with toxic pesticides and herbicides largely due to the political power of large chemical companies like Monsanto and Dow, as well as their lobbyists.  Read this article for more information.

When it comes to food access, it is largely low-income people of color who live in communities that lack grocery stores providing healthy foods. Instead, residents of these communities must buy most of their groceries from corner stores, where the products available tend to be processed and high in artificial additives, fat, and sugar. It is a form of institutionalized racism.

What’s more, in communities where there are satisfactory grocery stores, those stores are often owned by large corporations based in distant cities, meaning that the profits they generate do not benefit the local economy.

Finally, there are injustices and racism at all levels of the food production industry. Fruit and vegetable pickers, factory workers, truck drivers, grocery store workers,  and fast food employees are frequently underpaid, overworked, and deprived of health benefits.  In addition, employees of color at all levels of food production make less money and are less likely to hold management positions than their white counterparts, as this study explains.

Food, like many facets of our lives, is a deeply political issue. My recent conversation reminded me of the importance of not taking the ordinary for granted.  Why are things the way they are? What is going on beneath the surface of our daily lives, and do we approve of it? This is the line of thinking that the Occupy Movement is promoting. Just as there are underlying reasons that explain why many of us are unemployed, underemployed, and underpaid, there are underlying forces that determine what we eat. And it is important to understand the way that often unseen system works, so that we can try to change it.

Related:
Workers’ Rights and Food Justice
Life is Living and Occupy Wall Street
Do You Live In A Food Desert?

Read more: Community, Do Good, Environment, Food, Green, Inspiration, Life, Nature, News & Issues, Spirit,

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Sarah Cooke

Sarah Cooke is a writer living in California. She is interested in organic food and green living. Sarah holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University, an M.A. in Humanities from NYU, and a B.A. in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University. She has written for a number of publications, and she studied Pastry Arts at the Institute for Culinary Education. Her interests include running, yoga, baking, and poetry. Read more on her blog.

35 comments

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3:59AM PDT on Nov 2, 2011

Informative thanks.

3:04AM PDT on Nov 2, 2011

Good points. Being an American who lives and works around Europe, I have become much more poltically interested. It doesn't make sense at any level to keep doing what we Americans have accepted for the last half century. We need to stop spending money on short-term (often empty) pleasures and start spending our resources (time, effort and money) where they can make a positive difference. By taking one evening a week to educate ourselves and living our lives based on values such as equality, we can once again become the best nation in the world, rather than the butt of jokes.

1:38PM PDT on Nov 1, 2011

I live in a community where you witness these injustices daily. Latinos, African Americans, Black people of African and West Indies descent, working twice as hard, for half the pay of their white managers, picking beans, fruits and vegetables, working for large supermarket chains, where they can barely afford to shop themselves. Whole Foods here is where the "gringos", or the "white folks" shop, bcuz no one can afford it. Its a shame. We want to promote equality, but we show our children that they aren't as good as their classmates, learning the same things they are, going to the same schools, walking the same streets, but benefiting of what the world has to offer completely differently. Heartbreaking.

3:31AM PDT on Nov 1, 2011

thanks.

2:56PM PDT on Oct 31, 2011

Thank you for sharing.

2:36PM PDT on Oct 31, 2011

Thank you so much for this good example of the personal is political. There are soo o many more examples and ways this is true.

1:02PM PDT on Oct 31, 2011

thanks for the article

12:51PM PDT on Oct 31, 2011

Don't tease! What is this website?
I am really tired of the discussion of women in politics being dominated by Ann Coulter and Michelle Bachmann or Hilary Clinton and Michelle Obama. I want to see something from the rest of the feminine persuasion.
Just like with the homegrown Taliban/fundamentalist religionists, if no one speaks up with a different point of view it leaves people with the idea that these women speak for all women. I know that there are women out there who actuall think and have things of value to say. Let's hear from them.
~;^}>

If you want things the way they used to be- tax a millionaire, support a union and buy American.

12:27PM PDT on Oct 31, 2011

Checked out Sarahs blog,very interesting on.Also checked the other two in her article & bookmarked.Thanks Sarah:)

12:11PM PDT on Oct 31, 2011

Thanks.

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