As we commemorate this International Day of Peasant’s Struggle of La Via Campesina on April 17, we remember the massacre of the 19 landless Brazilian peasants who died in 1996 because they dared to demand agrarian reform. Just as they demanded this and other attributes of Food Sovereignty, we must continue to honor their struggle to create a just and equitable food system.
Our current food system is deeply rooted in a globalized, colonized economy that can not provide food for those most in need, and does not respect farmers, fisherfolk, or farm workers. Immigrants from the global South who left their homes for the industrialized North to grow and process much of the world’s food suffer from poverty wages, inadequate housing, and constant fear of deportation. They are often forced to work in fields and processing facilities with inadequate safety measures and random access to healthcare. Like the food producers who employ them, they are essential, frontline workers who must often rely on wages that markets are willing to pay them – not their true value – and have been sabotaged by climate change and other events out of their control.
For this April 17, we know we must #StayHomeButNotSilent and strengthen our solidarity with the farmers, fishers, and food workers worldwide who, even amid this pandemic, continue to risk their lives to produce food for everyone. We must continue weathering this storm in solidarity with eaters who need and revere real food pressuring our policymakers to help us build a world based on the principles of Food Sovereignty.
Everyone has the right to food, and this is the moment to exercise that right by planting gardens in lawns, windowsills and makeshift greenhouses. This is the time to shun ubiquitous foodstuffs in big box grocers for local foods in farmers markets, CSAs and CSFs, and neighborhood businesses.
Jim Goodman, NFFC board president and organic dairy farmer, said, “On April 17, we must #StayHomeButNotSilent, demonstrating how weathering the storm – unified even while physically distant – will become the new normal for building a truly just and democratic society.”