Democracy Happens in Community

November 6, 2020

This year, more than any other, we have witnessed the power of community. 2020 has brought us a global pandemic, devastating wildfires, an economic recession, a long overdue racial injustice reckoning, and bitterly fought election season, which is likely to continue for weeks if not months. 

It has also shown that resilience comes through communities working together—and sharing power—to upend broken systems and create solutions. 

CUESA was founded to show that, in community, solutions to our broken food system are possible. And we’ve always known that food is connected to every critical facet of our world, from climate and environment to worker rights and public health. 

We know the stakes of not changing these broken systems are very high and the road is long, with progress sometimes followed by disheartening regress. While Californians voted overwhelmingly for a new president, a majority also voted against affirmative action to combat systemic racism (Proposition 16), against allowing cities to enact rent control to protect residents, many of whom work in food (Proposition 21), and against protecting essential workers who are delivering food during a pandemic (Proposition 22).

Democratizing our food system, which means protecting and caring for every essential person from fields to kitchens to our homes, is a long fight. And one that is vitally worth participating in.

Farmers markets thrive through transparency, community, and shining sunlight on systems that have become opaque through policies that advantage big business over people. When you support farmers markets, you are supporting local family farmers over industrial agriculture and small food entrepreneurs over faceless corporations. You are supporting clean food, air, and water for everyone, and community-led efforts to reclaim our food system for access and equity for all.

While voting with our forks is one way to take action, democracy is not built on consumer choice. For democracy to work and for us to begin to fix the broken systems, we must vote with our votes, and ensure that every person’s vote is counted. Beyond voting, we must also organize with our communities to actively create the changes we want to see in the world.

Act now to defend democracy. Take action by sign the HEAL Food Alliance pledge to defend the vote, and take action through efforts like Protect the Vote.
Be invested in the long game. The current administration has worked to roll back progress in food and farm policy, sustainable agriculture, environmental regulation and climate policy, worker safety, and food security over the last four years, and during a devastating pandemic. Whatever happens, up and down the ballot, there is much work to be done, not just in the weeks ahead, but for years to come. Here are some tips from organizers for making civic engagement a regular habit.
Stay nourished and take care of each other. Feed and take care of yourself and your loved ones, and volunteer and donate to feed those who are in need. 

What gives us hope is knowing that change happens at the ballot box, in the streets, and yes, at farmers markets, where we can come together to create community and stand up for our values, even when we must stand six feet apart. We look forward to continuing the fight with you for a more democratic, equitable, and regenerative future for our food system and our communities.