The Manic Gardener – Where it All Comes Together—Or Falls Apart
Most of us are familiar with the term “food security,” meaning simply that people should have enough to eat. But Charles Levkoe, a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto, explains why this term doesn’t go nearly far enough in defining people’s rights in the realm of food.
“Food security” does not ask us to consider the wages or welfare of the people who work in the fields and factories that produce the food; it does not address the quality or cultural appropriateness of the food for the people to whom it is “given;” nor does it deal with their dignity, nor their right to make choices or exercise some control over the food they eat. Food security goes no further than a full belly.
Enter food justice, a term that encompasses all these issues. People who work for food justice are looking at the entire food production system, and the lives and welfare of all involved in it.
Charles helps run a local community garden (organic, of course), and he has served on the Board of the American Community Gardening Association; he has worked with The Stop, Toronto’s all-in-one food bank, community garden, and all-round center for food-related activism. He has written numerous articles on food movements, including several on The Stop.
My second guest, Lena Miller, founded and is now Executive Director of Development of Hunters Point Family, a non-profit that works with at-risk youths and families in one of the poorest areas of one of America’s richest cities. Lena was born in Hunters Point, and she is raising her daughters there, but in between she earned a B.A. at Berkeley and an M.A. at San Francisco University.
While Hunters Point Family runs numerous programs, one closest to Lena’s heart may be its organic gardens, for she believes profoundly in the healing power of digging in the dirt. She also believes that to heal themselves, people must return to basics, including to that most fundamental relationship between ourselves and food.
These two guests come to Food Justice from very different backgrounds, but they are equally passionate about its centrality to human dignity. This is where organic gardening meets social activism.