On Earth Day 2012, a group of activists decided to occupy the last five acres of high-quality, arable land left in the East Bay—a tract belonging to the University of California. Occupy The Farm‘s plan was to grow food for the people of the community, keep the land from potential development, and make a statement about food sovereignty. They only managed to hold the spot for a few weeks, and are now being sued by the University for what they did, but their action raised awareness and got a lot of people talking about food rights.
Occupy Food is a nationwide movement dedicated to putting good food back in the hands of the people—a goal worth fighting for. You may not be ready to break the law and build a rebel farm, but there are plenty of ways to join in and “Occupy Your Food Supply” every day.
1. Share Knowledge and Learn About the Issues
Issues affecting food in America range from corporate control of crops and food, to how food is produced and marketed, to where our food comes from. Whether you want to see a world with more local, independent farms or one with less high-fructose corn syrup, take the time to read more about what that means. Talk with your friends about what you know. The more we educate ourselves, the more effective we can be.
2. Join a Food Advocacy Group
Even if you just sign up for email newsletters or click “Like” on Facebook, joining up shows your support and will help keep you aware of what’s going on. Try Food Democracy Now! or the Occupy Food Facebook page, both good sources for information and news. If you prefer in-person action, get involved with community gardens, community kitchens and other groups working for food rights in your town.
3. Start a Victory Garden
There’s no better way to occupy your food supply than to create it yourself! Start small with a couple of tomato plants, or join a community garden in your neighborhood. If you’re already gardening, consider whether you could go bigger, join up with friends or donate some of the food you grow to people in need.
4. Buy Local, Organic, Fair Trade and In-Season
If you’re shopping anywhere but a farm stand, be choosy about what you buy. Blueberries in winter? Not in North America. Cheap chocolate? At whose cost? Watch out for foods that were grown half a world away, traded under unknown conditions and treated with unknown chemicals. Instead, join a CSA and commit to enjoying the fruits of the season when they’re fresh, organic and local.
A proper protest gets the community (and sometimes the world) talking, and gives you a chance to show your passion for good food alongside your compatriots. Don’t be afraid to be a food revolutionary; you are in good company! The last nationwide day of action was back in February, but if you’re on the Food Democracy Now! mailing list, you’ll hear about the next one. Get out there with a ‘Lettuce Beet the System’ sign and have fun standing up for your rights.