As I walked into the San Rafael formal lounge, I was greeted by two friendly representatives that handed me a survey in addition to a questionnaire about food stories. The questionnaire read that “in order to create real change within the food movement, we need to include all voices to better understand where we are coming from and how it shapes our relationship with food.” Coordinator at A.S. Food Bank, Tuyen Nguyen, guided a 15-person discussion after we filled out an eight-question survey that asked about our favorite foods growing up, memories with food, comfort foods and what we define as food justice and equity.
I.V. Co-op employee and third-year global studies major, Osunkoya Bryant, began her talk with relatable topics and suggestions for quick and easy foods for busy college students. She then moved onto her discussion about food justice. Food justice and sovereignty combined means “people having the ability to make an educated decision regarding the foods they eat in terms of personal health as well as social and environmental sustainability.” Food sovereignty is taking ownership of producing and growing their food.
We identify with our food by “family, music, social settings or pressure and culture.” Oftentimes people may become defensive with their foods traditional to their family. Often music encourages poor eating habits despite the fact that some artists have died from obesity. Especially as college students, we often gather together by having a pizza party, Freebirds or parties. These habitualized rituals are often done out of habit. A big part of our culture is celebration and we tend to latch onto food to do so.
Toward the end of their presentation, they showed us a TED Talk presented by a hip hop artist. The speaker defined “OG” as “original gardener.” He is dedicated to food justice by growing his own food and talking to others about how they can make a difference. He showed personal pictures and anecdotes that made him more relatable to food justice. He defines himself as an “organic father” and “educator” that hopes to “communicate with each other” about the importance of food justice.
Bryant’s personal goal is to buy and eat food “supporting the progression of the social and ecological environments that surround [her].” She listed ways to do this by “shrinking your ecological footprint, eating less meat, supporting local and small farmers and eating produce that’s in season.” She said we don’t have to eat kale everyday, but we have to be “responsible for the choices majority of the time and leaving a little to enjoy yourself.” Bryant and Nguyen recognize that people have urges for comfort foods, so they suggested eating 80 percent of the time healthfully and the other 20 percent to splurge.
Their last slide gave suggestions about how to stay connected with food justice from movies, YouTube videos and organizations near campus. They gave suggestions for movies like Fed Up, CowSpiracy, Soul Food Junkies and Food Inc. that are free to view on YouTube and Netflix. DJ Cavem also has various talks on YouTube to view. We can also stay connected with community resources by visiting The Food Bank, Gaucho Food Program, pantries at local churches in I.V. and the Isla Vista Food Cooperative.
If you are interested be sure to check out there Facebook page for more events on Food Justice and how it can benefit you.