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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.

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

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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.


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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


5:23PM PDT on Oct 31, 2011

Thanks for sharing.

3:54PM PDT on Oct 31, 2011

thanks for sharing

3:37PM PDT on Oct 31, 2011

Thank you for the article.

2:56PM PDT on Oct 31, 2011

Thank you for sharing.

2:51PM PDT on Oct 31, 2011

Exactly! This article was full of perceptive truths. Almost all of us at Care2 are very aware of the strangle-hold the major corporations have on our food supplies and production, with the trail of mayhem throughout all of our life-support systems.

I'm fortunate to have enough money to drive to the store and choose healthy food. It does not make me happy. Why? Because there are too many people in this country and the world who cannot do this. There is too much inequity and downright genocide to make me feel good about eating and living in comfort while others suffer untold horror.

This is why I stand with the others who 'Occupy Wall Street' in Sedona every Wednesday!

We are the 99%.

2:41PM PDT on Oct 31, 2011

thank you for sharing

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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