13 Things You Can Do to Keep Up the Good Food Fight

Brie Mazurek, CUESA Staff
January 6, 2018

It’s more important than ever to stand together to build a healthy and just food system. Why not stand up for the values that you care most about?

The government sets policies that touch every aspect of our food system, including organic agriculture, farm workers, immigration, food safety, nutrition assistance, and the environment. But we have the power to resist, organize, and take action in our communities, while building momentum for meaningful policy change. 

In November 2016, CUESA organized a panel discussion called “Politics and the Dinner Table” that generated concrete strategies and resources, which we’ve collected for you here. We can all do our part in protecting the progress we’ve made and building the movement for a healthy world.

Credit for these ideas go to activists Navina Khanna, Director of HEAL Food AllianceBerkeley Food InstituteRoots of ChangeReal Food Media.

Broaden your lens. If food is your passion, remember that food intersects with a wide range of issues: social justice, labor, immigration, climate change, and so on. We can’t have equity in the food system without equity for all. Consider joining movements like the Fight for $15 to support the more than 40% of people in the country who make than less than $15 an hour, many of whom work in our food system.
Think big, act local. National change often starts locally. Invest in your community’s power to make progress at the city and county level. The landslide passage of local initiatives like soda taxes and minimum wage increases in several cities have sent a strong message that many Americans are fed up with the corporate status quo.
Grow from the grassroots. Support community-based models like food cooperatives and local policy solutions that provide sustainable sources of revenue for vulnerable communities. In urban areas, you can encourage your officials to pass policies that support local rural economies, such as the Good Food Purchasing Program that was recently passed by the Oakland and San Francisco school districts. Learn more at goodfoodcities.org.
Don’t sit on the sidelines until 2020. Midterms are next year! Midterm elections provide an opportunity for the progressive movement to shift the entire House of Representatives. Organize and energize those around you as we approach 2018. Find a candidate that you care about, even if they’re not in California, and canvass door-to-door or donate to their campaign.
Put pressure on California leaders. California is the largest state in the Union and the number-one agriculture state in the country, which provides tremendous opportunity to lead by example and exert national influence. Find out how your state officials have voted on recent food and agriculture bills in the California Food and Agriculture Legislation Tracker and Legislator Scorecard, released by  Roots of Change and the California Food Policy Council. Let your legislators know that what issues matter to you here.
Saddle up for Farm Bill 2018. The Farm Bill, the biggest piece of legislation that determines how the federal government invests in agriculture and nutrition programs, is up for renewal next year. Funding for sustainable farm and nutrition assistance programs like SNAP (food stamps) could face cuts. Urge our newly elected Senator Kamala Harris to join the Senate Agriculture Committee, so that California can have a strong voice at the table in crafting the next bill. And with a new USDA leadership taking office in a couple weeks, read up on the USDA’s organic program and Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food resources, as they may start to look different (or disappear) in the next year.
Stay engaged. Follow organizations that are tracking the issues that matter to you, and sign up for their newsletters for action and education opportunities. A couple a great examples are Berkeley Food Institute and Plate of the Union.
Put your money where your mouth is. In addition to investing in local organizations and businesses, consider where you keep your money. For example, if you bank with a large corporate bank that invests in projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline, consider moving your money to a local bank to show your solidarity with efforts to protect rural communities and the environment.
Be a truth filterer. The rise of social media and decline of traditional journalism have enabled dangerous sources all along the political spectrum to spread misinformation like wildfire. Don’t consume or share untruthful information. Investigate before posting and harness the power of social media as a force for truth.
Read and support real media. Stay informed and protect the future of journalism by subscribing and donating to reputable progressive outlets like Mother Jones, Center for Investigative Reporting, Food & Environment Reporting Network, Civil Eats, and New America Media. For a couple of politically charged books to add to your reading list, check out Congressman Tim Ryan’s The Real Food Revolution and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s Off the Sidelines.
Listen to and support those on the frontlines. Listen to people who are most likely to be impacted by the new administration’s policies, such as immigrants, people of color, and low-income families. Support those communities in voicing solutions and being leaders in the movement.
Burst your bubble. Be willing to have real, sometimes uncomfortable, but compassionate conversations with those who have different opinions—in person, not just online. Get involved in an organizing effort and engage your community, perhaps door-to-door, in issues that matter to you. Talk to farmers and workers in rural California, and friends and family who live who may live in other parts of the country, to hear their concerns and seek common ground.
Take care. Whether it’s sharing a home-cooked meal with friends or family, tending a garden, or dancing, take refuge in healthy ways to unwind, so you can stay grounded while nourishing yourself and your loved ones for the good fight ahead.

What to hear the whole talk? Listen to the audio. And stay tuned to the CUESA e-letter for more opportunities to engage.

This article was updated from its original version, published on 2017.

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