In the last few weeks on It's All About Food we have focused on food for children. Feeding children well in today's world is complicated. Parents want their children to receive good nutrition, but there are influences that are out of their control. Refined sugary foods are marketed to children through television, social media and video games, while junk foods are strategically placed on grocery store shelves to attract young eyes. School parties, snacks after school, athletic events, even visits to the doctor often include calorie‑empty junk foods. For children, learning in school is especially difficult when hungry. Despite appearances, nutritious, good tasting quality food has never been a priority of the United States government school lunch program. Add to all of that the toxic residues like glyphosate found in foods along with artificial ingredients in processed foods that impair children's gut microbiome and body chemistry. Guests on It's All About Food including Zen L. Honeycutt a few weeks ago, and upcoming this week Lana Dee Povitz and Bettina Elias Siegel discuss grassroots activism to improve our children's food. Tune in live at 4pm ET, today, Tuesday, December 3.
Stirrings, How Activist New Yorkers Ignited a Movement for Food Justice, by Lana Dee Povitz
In the last three decades of the twentieth century, government cutbacks, stagnating wages, AIDS, and gentrification pushed ever more people into poverty, and hunger reached levels unseen since the Depression. In response, New Yorkers set the stage for a nationwide food justice movement. Whether organizing school lunch campaigns, establishing food co‑ops, or lobbying city officials, citizen‑activists made food a political issue, uniting communities across lines of difference. The charismatic, usually female leaders of these efforts were often products of earlier movements: American communism, civil rights activism, feminism, even Eastern mysticism. Situating food justice within these rich lineages, Lana Dee Povitz demonstrates how grassroots activism continued to thrive, even as it was transformed by unrelenting erosion of the country’s already fragile social safety net. Using dozens of new oral histories and archives, Povitz reveals the colorful characters who worked behind the scenes to build and sustain the movement, and illuminates how people worked together to overturn hierarchies rooted in class and race, reorienting the history of food activism as a community-based response to austerity. The first book-length history of food activism in a major American city, Stirrings highlights the emotional, intimate, and interpersonal aspects of social movement culture. Lana Dee Povitz is visiting assistant professor of history at Middlebury College.
Kid Food, The Challenge of Feeding Children in a Highly Processed World, by Bettina Elias Siegel
Bettina Elias Siegel is a nationally recognized writer and advocate on issues relating to children and food policy. Her reporting and opinion pieces have appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, the Houston Chronicle, and Civil Eats, as well as her own widely read blog, The Lunch Tray. She frequently appears or is quoted in national media, including Today, ABC World News Tonight, NBC Nightly News, NPR, The Doctors, the Washington Post, The New Yorker, and Parents. In 2015, Family Circle named Siegel one of the country’s “20 Most Influential Moms,” and she is one of the most successful petitioners in Change.org’s history. A graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School, Siegel lives in Houston with her husband and two children.
Children are also misled early on about how animals are raised for food today. Industrial animal agriculture is violent and cruel. The reality of raising livestock is more gruesome than any of Grimms' Fairy Tales. Children's books often depict animals in pristine natural environments, such as cows contently grazing and chewing on their cud with their calves nearby, pigs rolling around in the mud and chickens frolicking about. This could not be farther from the truth. If parents do not want to share this horrific knowledge with their children, why support the practice by eating animals? There has been a dearth of children's books that help young people understand that animals don't want to be raised in this fashion, slaughtered and eaten. In the last few episodes of It's All About Food we have featured interviews with the authors of two books, Happy Animals and I Am Not Food, that do just that and are designed to educate children in a way that is gentle, compassionate and honest.
I Am Not Food by Abioseh Joseph Cole
Abioseh Joseph Cole, is a published author, poet, animal rights blacktivist, teacher, and hip-hop artist, producer, and recording engineer. He started writing in 1989, at the age of 9, and has since found poetry to be his truest form of expression, be it in rap form, spoken word or prose. While most of his career has been spent honing his talents in hip hop, the last 4 years has been focused on spoken word poetry. He has performed schools and venues all across the country and is a member of the CT Slam Team, Verbal Slap, since 2017. He has also taught poetry workshops to students ranging from middle school age to adulthood. I Am Not Food is a cute yet powerful, beautifully illustrated children’s board book written poetically from the perspective of various animals who explain why they are not food.
Unstoppable, Zen L. Honeycutt
Zen L. Honeycutt is first and foremost a mom. She is also an activist, speaker, author, founding executive director of Moms Across America, and co‑creator of Mothers Across the World with Dr. Vandana Shiva. While heading Moms Across America, Zen initiated the first testing for glyphosate in tap water, breast milk, and urine and spearheaded the non‑profit's successful petition to Costco to remove Roundup from their shelves. Happy to speak to anyone interested in better health for all, she has been featured on ABC, CNN, The Dr. Oz Show, the Wall Street Journal, CSPAN, Fox News, Reuter's, Huffington Post, and many other media outlets. Her documentary, Communities Rising, highlights efforts across our nation to transform the food supply, and she is the author of Unstoppable: Transforming Sickness and Struggle into Triumph, Empowerment, and a Celebration of Community.
Happy Animals, by Liora Raphael and Glenn Saks
Liora Raphael and Glenn Saks are lawyers and long‑time friends. Over lunch at a favorite vegan restaurant, Liora relayed her frustration in finding an age‑appropriate book for her daughter to assist in answering the question "Why don't we eat animals?" and Glenn, never one to turn down a challenge, said, "Let's write one!". Happy Animals, a cheerful and beautifully illustrated children’s book provides an entertaining introduction to the meaning and compassion behind the choice to live a vegan lifestyle. Kids will meet six named characters from the animal kingdom and learn fun facts about each so they can see them as the lovable, sentient creatures they are. They will then learn about the connection between these living beings and their food in a positive and age appropriate way.
Today is Giving Tuesday. This is a day to take a break from being a consumer and think about the world we are all a part of by supporting the causes that we care about. At Responsible Eating And Living, we give to the community the truth and tools for healthy eating, wellness and green living, every day, with nutritious and delicious recipes, informative weekly podcasts, videos and articles. This year, we hope you will choose to support the work we do at Responsible Eating And Living with a Giving Tuesday contribution.