This was sent along from Jim Knopik, one of the 20 farmers/groups we profiled in Farm Together Now back in 2010. He is involved with a group of Nebraska ranchers who have been doing activism around the proposed Keystone pipeline. This action took place on February 13th, and yesterday 35,000 people from 30 different states converged in Washington for “Forward on Climate,” which is said to have been the biggest rally calling attention to climate change in U.S. history.
Quotes from Nebraskans:
Pics of Nebraskans involved in Wed action from Mary Anne Andrei for Bold Nebraska
Randy Thompson, cattle buyer, face of the pipeline campaign in Nebraska “Stand with Randy”
“I am a Nebraska cattleman and landowner. I am fighting against the KXL pipeline for two very basic reasons. First of all, I feel very strongly that this pipeline represents an assault on the individual property rights of American citizens. There is something inherently wrong about the idea of American landowners being forced to subsidize the private enterprise of a foreign corporation with land that their families have earned through generations of hard work and determination. Secondly, I feel that the KXL presents a real threat to some of our nation’s most valuable natural resources, especially our rivers, streams and underground aquifers. These are priceless American assets that no amount of oil money, foreign or otherwise, could ever replace.”
James Tarnick, young farmer and rancher, proposed pipeline route comes within 50 feet of his house
“I started out fighting the pipeline because it was coming on my land and close to the family farm house and livestock wells. However, through what I have learned these past 6-7 months I am against it even more because it will impact us negatively economically in the long run and there are way to many ways it can harm our environment. Landowners have been bullied by TC as our political leaders have looked the other way. It is time to and this is an outstanding way to rise up against big money and say ‘We aren’t going anywhere. Ever!’”
Abbi Kleinschmidt, 5th generation farmer in the route of the pipeline
“I am fighting the pipeline because I believe it is my duty to stand up for Mother Earth and the health and well-being of all human beings and NOT allow a slimy, rich, foreign oil company to come in and cut through the heart of America. I cannot think of a more heartless act!! I am fortunate to live in a society where I have the right and can speak up for what I believe in. What this situation reminds of more than anything is what our ancestors did to the Native Americans. We came in and told them lies, cheated them, and moved them off of their land. I believe that TransCanada is capable of doing the same sort of thing, especially if there was a sizable tar sands spill. That company is ruthless, relentless, has an endless supply of money and only wants what is good for them. Since our politicians aren’t willing to take the appropriate stand, then power to the people and I would be one of those.”
Susan Luebbe: rancher, featured in Pipe Dreams documentary, one of the landowners in the lawsuit against the state of Nebraska on the pipeline route and eminent domain authority
“As a 3rd generation cowgirl from the Sand Hills of Nebraska I have worked hard with others to get KXL off our ranch. I want to take this risk of arrest with many other landowners, and indigenous tribal members from Canada through the United States to end this fight. I want to make an impact in this fight for residents of Canada’s tar sands region to Eleanor Fairchild’s Texas property. TransCanada’s project cuts right through the heart of environmental sensitive land and cultural history. I want the future generation to see what it takes to fight for something so precious that our ancestors worked so hard to build for all of us.”
This Valentines Day, I wanted to remember a powerful experience I had exactly two years ago when I was able to attend the National Family Farm Coalition’s annual board retreat in Washington DC and record all of these wonderful people reading the principles of Food Sovereignty:
If we all loved food and each other the way these folks do, then we would have a lot less problems.
From February 19th – March 4th in the year 200, Students from across the state of Florida and youth groups answer a call to action and walk alongside the farmworkers from Immokalee Florida in the “March for Dignity, Dialogue and a Fair Wage.” The first action outside Immokalee, the march covered 243 long miles to the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association. Marchers walked from sun-up to sunset (9-10 hours a day) for 15 days straight.
This led to the amazing social movement that became the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Student Farmworker Alliance, Taco Bell Truth Tour, Actions at Yum Brands’Annual Shareholder Meeting, McDonald’s Truth Tours, and so much more (see a timeline here). The CIW has become the vanguard of new social movements in the United States alongside the Right tot he City Alliance, the Workers Center Movement, Take Back the Land and the Domestic Workers United.
Now they are taking that walk again. On 3/3/2013: Join them in the streets again for the two-week “March for Rights, Respect and Fair Food” from Ft. Myers to Lakeland, Florida! Details are here ciw-online.org.
A message from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers:
This holiday season, ask Publix to join us at the Fair Food table…
The holiday season is upon us, which means it’s time again to gather around the table with loved ones to celebrate another year of life together, of new beginnings and old friends, of triumphs and of the challenges ahead.
The holiday table unites us, and reminds us that — no matter how high, or low, our day to day lives may take us — in the end, we always make our way back to those whom we love the most, and when we are with them, the world feels right.
Love is the essence of the holidays. Love for our parents and their parents, love for our children and their children. Love for our friends, and love for all men and women with whom we share this fragile world. The holiday table reminds us that, in the end, we are all family, and that we can only truly enjoy the bounties that life gives us if we all enjoy them together, as one.
No one knows this better than Publix. Its holiday commercials are a tour de force in touching that place deep inside each of us that loves not just our families and friends, but our fellow man, too, regardless of the divisions that may separate us in our daily lives. Publix commercials never fail to remind us just how much we have to be thankful for, and how powerful an emotion our love can truly be.
But love without goodwill is an empty emotion. And, sadly, the holiday season has become an annual reminder that Publix — a company founded by a man, George Jenkins, who famously said the words “Don’t let making a profit stand in the way of doing the right thing” – is a company that has lost its way. Like any family, the families who own and run Publix gather around their holiday tables and reflect on their joys and struggles. For the families who run Publix, among those joys, year after year, are soaring profits. Yet they inexplicably continue to turn their backs on the farmworkers who make those profits possible.
Review: Farm Together Now: A Portrait of People, Places, and Ideas for a New Food Movement by Amy Franceschini and Daniel Tucker, with photographs by Anne Hamersky
San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2010
192 pp. Illustrations. $27.50 (cloth)
If the country’s good food movement continues to thrive, it will be largely due to our nation’s farmers—the original futures investors engaged in an often precarious practice of endless beauty and decay, triumph and loss. As the new book Farm Together Now clearly conveys, this movement for real food and sustainable agriculture is comprised not only of farmers but also of urban activists, seed savers, beekeepers, and the many other groups who are building gardens to build communities and growing food to promote justice, some on borrowed land or borrowed time. Showcasing twenty of these American heroes, artist and designer Amy Franceschini and organizer and documentary maker Daniel Tucker—aided by the arresting photographs of Anne Hamersky—create a tapestry of the visionaries who are making a new food system.
In the first chapter, “Organizing Alongside Conventional Farmers,” we travel with our guides to rural Nebraska and encounter third-generation animal farmer Jim Knopik, who turned his own farm—and his neighbors—against factory farming in launching the statewide Nebraska Food Cooperative. We then meet third-generation Wisconsin dairy farmer Joel Greeno, who has been milking cows since he was ten years old and is now the president of the American Raw Milk Producers Pricing Association, an organization of dairy farmers dedicated to establishing raw milk prices that return dairy producers their cost of production plus a profit. The story of this food movement involves not only those working with the system; it also centers on individuals who are creating new structures. Take, for example, the farms the authors feature in the chapter titled “In Intentional Community”: Sandhill Community Farm in Rutledge, Missouri; and Tryon Life Community Farm in Portland, Oregon. Both groups are building communities based on biodynamic, cooperative, and egalitarian principles.
The book moves on to chronicle the “policy shapers” who are transforming the inner city. Urban farmers at Oakland’s City Slicker Farms—which sells produce for every budget— and Angelic Organics Learning Center in Chicago—one of the largest community supported agriculture (csa) farms in the country—both fit the bill. They are sprouting not only new urban gardens, but also supporting programs to improve their local food systems by changing the way their communities gain access to good food. In “Up and Out of Poverty,” we are similarly schooled in the hard work of the Georgia Citizens Coalition on Hunger, whose programs grew in response to the lack of healthful food in Atlanta’s primarily African American neighborhoods. An advocacy project cum food pantry and support group, the organization now grows its own food for sale at farmers’ markets.
The book shines a light on the next generation of farmers, such as the team at Freewheelin’ Farm in Davenport, California, who aim to shrink their footprint at every turn, including delivering csa shares by bicycle to their subscribers. In Union Pier, Michigan, we are inspired by anarchistorganizer, fair-trade coffee roaster, and avid tax-resister David Myers, whose On-the-Fly Farm csa subsidizes low-income subscribers and who shares donated farmland with God’s Gang, a nonprofit organization that provides access to good food for displaced residents of the Chicago Housing Authority.
Along the good food road, we meet farmers saving seeds in Arizona and others producing heritage wheat in New York. We meet a sixth-generation acequia farmer who irrigates his land from the oldest “water right” in Colorado, a practice heralded as “water democracy.” We follow up with the South Central Los Angeles Farmers, whose riveting story of displacement was told in the documentary film The Garden and who have since reinvented themselves in Bakersfield, California. Finally, we are invited into the rare world of a radical beekeeper in New York’s Hudson Valley, whose goal is to rebuild the dna of the honeybee to strengthen it to resist disease. They, and many more, farm together now.
With numerous digressions and detailed research, Farm Together Now offers much food for thought to readers both well versed in and relatively new to this movement for change. Its greatest strength is in giving voice to the creative solutions and myriad moving parts that comprise our food system, all of which are inspiring a sea change against the industrial food machine.
—Naomi Starkman, Cofounder of CivilEats.com
How food distribution works today with endless middle men, warehouses, distribution and packaging companies, wholesalers and grocers is not the way things have always worked. Our friends recently shared some surprising history about a food by mail system that could point to possibilities for revitalization of the postal service and the food system today! It all began in 1896 when the Rural Free Delivery Program was started and in 1913 it was connected to the postal service. The program thrived throughout World War 1 but fell victim to competition from the private sector as time moved on. Additionally, the construction of highways changed the way transportation of people and goods occurred throughout the country. As a policy experiment it was innovative, risky and bold. We need to see more of that if anything about how the food supply and distribution chain works. For information about workers who are organizing across the “food chain” check out the important work of Food Chain Workers.
[Thanks to Lisa Junkin and Heather Radke for sharing these links.]
An old friend living in Madrid, Maggie Schmidt, and her collaborator Laila El-Haddad have just released their book “The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey” for pre-order.
Here is what their publisher says about the project:
The Gaza Kitchen is a richly illustrated cookbook that explores the distinctive cuisine and food heritage of the area known prior to 1948 as the Gaza District—and that of the many refugees from elsewhere in Palestine who came to Gaza in 1948 and have been forced to stay there ever since. In summer 2010, authors Laila El-Haddad and Maggie Schmitt traveled the length and breadth of the Gaza Strip to collect the recipes presented in the book. They were also able to build on the extensive knowledge that Laila, herself a Palestinian from Gaza, had gained from family and friends throughout the years.
The 130 recipes presented in this book have all been thoroughly kitchen-tested. Amounts are presented using U.S.-style measures, and the authors suggest alternative ingredients and recipe adaptations for cooks working in the United States or other countries where some of the ingredients may not be easy to find. Numerous illustrations help readers understand how to perform the listed techniques—and what the finished product should look like!
But The Gaza Kitchenis not only a cookbook. A lot of other things happen in the kitchen as well as cooking: conversations, the re-telling of family histories, and the daily drama of surviving and creating spaces for pleasure in an embattled place. In this book, women and men from throughout Gaza tell their stories as they relate to cooking, farming, and the food economy: personal stories, family stories, and descriptions of the broader social and economic system in which they live.
When Laila and Maggie launched this project in 2009, they wrote:
Why do we want to talk about food and cooking?
Because food is the essence of the everyday. Beyond all the discourses, the positions and the polemics, there is the kitchen. And even in Gaza, that most tortured little strip of land, hundreds of thousands of women every day find ways to sustain their families and friends in body and spirit. They make the kitchen a stronghold against despair, and there craft necessity into pleasure and dignity.
Gaza has a rich food tradition and a unique cuisine combining Levantine and Egyptian elements. The history of its population can be traced through its recipes, which reflect the influence of exile from all over Palestine as well as a changing society and customs. A cookbook which brings together these recipes serves as testimony to this heritage and history.
What is more, today’s kitchens can tell us much about the difficult and paradoxical realities of Gaza after 3 years of unrelenting siege: which products are available and where they are coming from (tunnels, local agriculture, humanitarian relief), how cooks manage with extreme shortages of gas and electricity, how families reorganize to compensate for destroyed homes and near-universal joblessness. To spend a day with a Gazan woman doing the shopping and cooking is to understand the Palestinian reality from an entirely different – more material, more intimate – perspective. It is to appreciate the strength and endurance which allows these women every day to confront a hopeless situation and to create within it small spaces of grace, beauty and generosity.
Just World Books is honored to have been able to work with Maggie and Laila in the preparation of this unique contribution to the study of the world’s food heritage.