The Corporate Food System Is Making the Coronavirus Crisis Worse

by Walden Bello, FoodFirst, 04.30.2020

A profound article that rewards careful reading. Food First, founded long ago by “Diet for a Small Planet” author Frances Moore Lappé, is an inspiration for activists seeking not just to avoid toxic chemicals and grow healthy food, but also to escape and reform the whole destructive agribusiness cycle.

The author says: “Probably the most important measure that we propose is to move food production away from the fragile, corporate-controlled globalized food supply chain based on narrow considerations such as the reduction of unit cost to more sustainable smallholder-based localized systems.”

Let’s all be part of it, at home, in our food growing and purchasing, and by joining FoodFirst!

This article was originally published at Foreign Policy in Focus by Food First Fellow, Walden Bello.

The global food system has been very much front and center in the COVID-19 story.

Everyone, of course, is aware that hunger is closely tracking the virus as its wreaks havoc in both the global North and global South. Indeed, one can say that, unlike in East Asia, Europe, and the U.S., in South Asia, the food calamity preceded the actual invasion by the virus, with relatively few infections registered in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh as of late March of 2020 — but with millions already displaced by the lockdowns and other draconian measures taken by the region’s governments.

In India, for instance, internal migrants lost their jobs in just a few hours’ notice, leaving them with little money for food and rent and forcing them to trek hundreds of kilometers home, with scores beaten up by police seeking to quarantine them as they crossed state lines. Estimated at as many as 139 million, these internal migrants, largely invisible in normal times, suddenly became visible as they tried to reach their home states, deprived of public transportation owing to the sudden national lockdown.

With people dying along the way, a constant refrain in this vast human wave was the desperate cry: “If coronavirus doesn’t kill us, hunger will!”

But the food question has been a key dimension of the pandemic in two other ways. One is the connection of the virus with the destabilization of wildlife. The other is the way the measures to contain the spread of the virus have underlined the extreme vulnerability of the global food supply chain….

Read more at FoodFirst

The Victory Garden movement: be part of it!

During World Wars I and II, Americans pitched in to grow a lot of their vegetables at home or in shared gardens. Now we are faced with a similar need, because people hesitate to go shopping, delivery is slow, store-bought products can come bearing viruses (to say nothing of pesticides and herbicides), growing our own food saves money, and it is healthful and educational to get outdoors and plant!

Photo: Kale (which you can plant outside now) and wild onions (which you can gather any time), from West Chester Green Team Courtney Bodle’s Instagram page.

To get your own organic veggie garden started, see Courtney’s regular series of videos on how to plant seeds indoors under grow lights and, as the season develops, further steps in growing, harvesting, and eating.

And let’s not forget composting. Why buy soil when you can make it at home? For tips, see West Chester resident and Borough Council member Denise Polk’s TED talk on YouTube.

Professor Polk has also founded the Public Seed Library of West Chester, an exchange modality for you to get and donate seeds.

Harvest begins, 2019

Please note that we plan on starting up our “kid gardening program” as soon as feasible this summer. For last year’s program, see photos on the West Chester Green Team site.

The Victory Garden movement is gaining prominence in the news; see for example an interesting historical perspective in “Food Supply Anxiety Brings Back Victory Gardens” by Tejal Rao in The New York Times, 3/25/20.

For seasonal information on edible wild plants, please see here and links from there. What’s not to like: you just go outside, gather, and eat!

So, once again in the current “war” on the virus: On To Victory!

It’s time for edible wild plants

by Nathaniel Smith, Politics : A View from West Chester, 3/25/20 {Featuring shepherd’s purse, which you can add to your salads right now, and day lilies]

This is a good time to be getting outdoors, not only because of the mostly warming weather, but because it takes our minds off the cares of the world.

This is also a good time to study up on edible wild plants, which offer us free green vegetables without having to go far afield. Do shepherd’s purse, common orange day lilies, dandelion, broadleaf plantain, and ostrich ferns appeal to you? I can vouch for them all.

Wherever you gather plants, be sure herbicides and pesticides have not been used….

Below: shepherd’s purse in water, ready for final cleaning and eating. Read more at Politics : A View from West Chester

The Biggest Little Farm (film) Nov. 20 at WCU

And it’s a non-toxic farm!

Room 102, Mitchell Hall, WCU, West Chester PA 19382. Nov. 20, 7:30 pm.

The Biggest Little Farm is a story about two people who left the city behind in an effort to revitalize barren farm land and live more harmoniously with the earth. This recently released film has been generating a lot of excitement for its inspiring tale and gorgeous cinematography.

Sponsored by the Office of Sustainability, the Slow Food Club, and the West Chester Green Team. See trailer at https://www.biggestlittlefarmmovie.com/videos/.

Free and open to the public.

The Biggest Little Farm (film) Nov. 20 at WCU

Room 102, Mitchell Hall, WCU, West Chester PA 19382. Nov. 20, 7:30 pm.

The Biggest Little Farm is a story about two people who left the city behind in an effort to revitalize barren farm land and live more harmoniously with the earth. This recently released film has been generating a lot of excitement for its inspiring tale and gorgeous cinematography.

Sponsored by the Office of Sustainability, the Slow Food Club, and the West Chester Green Team. See trailer at https://www.biggestlittlefarmmovie.com/videos/.

Free and open to the public.

How to celebrate Pollinator Week 2019! (6/17-6/23)

In 2007, the Senate designated a week in June as “National Pollinator Week” – a week to raise awareness about the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. During this week, people all over the country celebrate the valuable ecosystem services provided by birds, bees, butterflies, and beetles! So how can you take part this year?

Here are just a few activities you can do, from pollinator.org

  • Display pollinator artwork and outreach materials
  • Host a pollinator-themed meal or mixer
  • Pollinator planting day at your school, office, local park, or library
  • Build native bee houses
  • Screen a pollinator film (such as Bee Movie!)
  • Plant habitat in your backyard using native plants
  • Host a nature walk or pollinator expert lecture

Additionally, check out 7 Things You Can Do for Pollinators

  1. Plant for pollinators
  2. Reduce or eliminate the impact of pesticides
  3. Register as a share site
  4. Reach out to others – inform and inspire!
  5. Support local bees and beekeepers
  6. Conserve all of our resources; use less and reduce our impact
  7. Support the work of groups promoting science based, practical efforts for pollinators

For more information, please visit pollinator.org where you can learn even more about pollinators and how we can help them.

DSM volunteers at work for food and the environment

It’s no surprise that Don’t Spray Me! volunteers are active in other community activities. For four years, Ashlie Delshad, DSM Block Captain and Associate Professor of Political Science at West Chester University, has led student service trips to work with urban gardens in Philadelphia that grow food to combat food insecurity throughout the city. The WCU group partners with organizations including the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society (their City Harvest Program), the Eastern Philadelphia Revitalization Alliance, and Philabundance.

Here is a photo from last year:

House Farm Bill: A disaster favoring pesticide manufacturers

Petition from Sierra Club

Tell your representative to oppose this anti-environment House Farm Bill.

The House 2018 Farm Bill is an absolute disaster — and we need to do everything we can to stop it. It is replete with partisan, anti-environmental provisions, representing Big Ag and pesticide companies over our food supply, wildlife, ecosystem, residents, and small farmers. Congress should look after the public interest before the profits of the world’s largest chemical companies. Take action here to urge your representative to vote down this dangerous bill now!

The House version of the Farm Bill:

Cuts programs to develop farmer’s markets
Seeks to exempt pesticide manufacturers from liability for harming endangered wildlife
Weakens critical protections to keep wildlife safe from toxic pesticides
Increases costs for organic farmers and undermines ecological, sustainable farming
Proposes a new office to advocate for the use of genetically engineered organisms
Logs its way through our forests and guts water conservation programs
Makes it easier for corporate polluters to contaminate drinking water supplies
Cuts safety net programs for low-income people, exacerbating hunger and food insecurity
Attacks food sovereignty and home rule, striking state rights to set their own food and animal standards, such as pesticide bans or cage-free egg requirements
Cuts programs proven to promote soil heath and fight climate change
Continues support for big corporate Caged Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)

This Farm Bill would cause so much damage, it must be altogether stopped. The public deserves safe and healthy food, water, wildlife, and forests — and the House needs to put the greater good before Big Ag’s toxic agenda. We deserve fair food and farm policies that respect our rights, our health and the need for a healthy environment to sustain our current and future generations.

Petition your representative at Sierra Club