Food activism comes in many shapes and sizes. It can be protesting in the streets and signing petitions, it can be using one’s food budget to quietly support local farms and businesses, and it can be growing and raising one’s own food. All forms of food activism are important to creating a healthy, sustainable and just food system. All, when combined, make a difference.
Recently, we asked our Facebook community to answer the question, “Why are you a food activist?” Submissions poured in and we selected our favorites. Then one lucky contributor was randomly selected to have a $500 donation made by Organic Valley to a food or farming non-profit of their choice.
We hope these responses inspire the food activist in you!
We’ve been lied to for far too long about what is in our food, about how our food is raised and about how it gets to us, the consumer. We have a right to the truth. – Dayla Regan-Buell
[I’m a food activist] because I don’t want to take part in poisoning my children. I want to always be able to give them food that fuels, heals, and regenerates them. It would kill me to watch my children die because of FOOD! – Dena Shoemaker
I have become a food activist through a series of life changing events. I grew up in my German mother’s restaurant. I learned that preparing and serving food to people is a very intimate and personal endeavor. Feeding people not only nourishes the body but also the soul. My mom taught me to respect ingredients and to cook in a clean simple manner. From mom’s kitchen, I joined the ranks of chain restaurants, where I became a very good manager/operator and after 17 years, left as a general manager from a chain that had grown to 1,100 units. From there I became a deli manager at our favorite Texas grocery chain. I learned about foods and wines from around the world and our own back door. Five years later, I found my calling. I became a lunch lady at my daughter’s public elementary school. This is what life had been preparing me for. Using our cafeterias as classrooms, working in school gardens and using simple ingredients to create cutting-edge meals has been a wonderful experience. As I have gotten older I have become more aware of the food supply chain. I have gained an appreciation for what it takes to feed the living things on this planet. As an animal lover, I decided I wanted to grow my own meat for my family. We love knowing how our animals are raised and butchered. I understand that this is a luxury very few people have. However, we would like to share what we have learned with anyone wanting to meet their meat. – Lillian Barnett
Food is the foundation of our very lives. Without healthy food there will be no healthy people, and without healthy people we will all perish. Without food activists there will be no change, and we need to change this broken food system. – Patrice Lenhoff Anita
Food is elemental and universal. It is the one thing that can unite, delight, satiate and nurture us. It is the one thing we cannot live, work, sleep or raise families without. Making certain that everyone has access to sustainably grown whole foods is why Arcadia exists. – Pamela Hess
Activism educates. Consumer buying habits will change the system quicker than the efforts to put laws in place. – Susana Summers
I’ve had the privilege to know where some of our family’s food comes from and have had the opportunity to experience how the health of the land impacts what is on the table. As an educator, it’s my responsibility to share what I’ve learned about food systems and what’s possible for better health, but to do so with mindfulness and respect for local culture, traditions and values. I’m committed to reaching young people through supporting hands on experiences in gardening, cooking opportunities and school food program projects. Education is the activism I believe in. We can best impact the future by starting with the very young, and our children certainly deserve the best of every harvest. – Robin Hosemann
The very root of the word “activist” is “active.” I choose to activate my hands to help others overcome the bondage to the grocery store shelves and processed foods rather than just activate a loud senseless voice. Empowering people to provide for themselves and their families is the true power. Our message will simply be, “No, thank you. We will not buy your product.” Education does not need to scream and rant; just stand firm. – Sheri Lock
I’m a food activist because I believe kids deserve wholesome food. Food matters, and no one should go hungry or be forced to eat only processed food because it’s cheap and filling. – Kristi Iglehart Richerson
I grew up in the beautiful Willamette Valley in Oregon during the 1960s and ’70s. At that time, Cesar Chavez inspired the grape boycott, and even as a child I refused to eat grapes and implored my parents not to purchase them. I grew up with DDT and rivers too polluted to swim in unless you left the farming areas. The forests were being clear-cut and by the time I had my first child, herbicides were raining from helicopters to cull weeds brought on by taking away the tree canopy. We were being poisoned in every direction! I remember that all-pervasive feeling that made me aware that no matter how healthy I chose to live, I was being poisoned. It’s a sad story that we poison and marginalize our “farm working class” and pretend these inhumane labor practices are not happening. I am an organic permaculturist who will never give up begging for a healthy food chain and environment! – Lori Ekwe
In addition to these wonderful responses, a number of people answered “because I love to eat” as the reason behind their food activism—which we agree is reason enough!
Thank you to all who submitted their responses. Our winner, Pamela Hess, chose to support the non-profit Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture. Dedicated to creating a more equitable and sustainable local food system in the Washington, DC, area, Arcadia brings food to underserved neighborhoods through mobile markets.