This week’s blog post is brought to you by Benevolence Farm summer volunteer Sarah Greenberg.
Having the opportunity to volunteer and learn from a place like Benevolence Farm during these unprecedented times is truly a powerful experience. It wasn’t my plan to end up in Alamance County this summer, but I am beyond grateful I am here being educated (remotely) by inspiring women and an inspiring mission. Benevolence Farm is a place where I see my hopes come to life in an active, rather than passive, form. Hopes of connecting necessary missions together and recognizing the intersections of various injustices. I find the balance between people helping people, people helping the earth, and the earth helping people fascinating. Day after day, my passion for untangling, dismantling, and rebuilding our food system and criminal legal system expands. To some, revolutionizing multiple beasts may seem like quite a task, but to me tackling one injustice has a ripple effect of impact on other injustices that are tied to the same monster. Acknowledging that each system our society has built is woven in a fabric of oppressive patterns that benefit wealthy white power is necessary. Having the chance this summer to dive deeper than ever into the complexities of criminal injustices in our country has allowed me to find interactions between problems I am faced with when studying Community Food Systems back in New York as a college student.
Every individual has an interaction with food because it is a necessary part of survival. It is crucial that this interaction with food is positive and the needs of every individual, including those impacted by the criminal legal system, are met. Food justice can be defined as communities exercising their right to grow, sell, and eat fresh, nutritious, affordable, culturally-appropriate, and local food with the well-being of land, workers, and animals in mind. For previously incarcerated individuals, this means obtaining equal access to food justice upon their reentry. Food apartheid is a lack of access to healthy foods within a community due to structural inequities and deliberate resource allocation to exclude healthy food from communities of color and poor communities. Food apartheids disproportionately affect People of Color and those impacted by the criminal legal system. Food sovereignty is the right of peoples (particularly small rural farmers) to define their own agricultural and food systems. Food sovereignty demands that the policies and mechanisms involved in production, distribution, and consumption of food focus on creating ecologically sustainable systems and healthy lives for people, rather than profits for corporations. At Benevolence Farm, food sovereignty is achieved to sustain the successes of the women working toward change. The Food Justice Movement is inspired by racial justice and organizing movements before it, including the Civil Rights Movement and the Environmental Justice Movement. Similar inspirations have led to criminal legal reform.
In the midst of a revolution brewing in our country, I find hope in being uncomfortable and facing challenges that push necessary conversations and necessary change. As a young, cis, white women who has benefited from the system I find responsibility in amplifying, speaking, and acting on injustices I see in this country and around the world. There is a needed value shift in America from individualism to collectivism, where we value all aspects of the human in each other. In order to combat racism, the patriarchy, an unjust criminal system, colonialism, food apartehieds, climate change, unequal rights for the LGBTQ+ community we must understand the root of all of these cancerous exploitations is connected. We must actively seek humility, unity, and justice. I am so grateful to be volunteering with Benevolence Farm this summer and witnessing the importance of creating an agenda in which the primary focus is to aid positive change toward nurturing connections that enable impactful futures.