Occupy Windsor And Food Sovereignty

By Steve Green

(WINDSOR, ON) – As a foodie and a co-op farmer of sorts, I find myself reflecting on the Occupy Together movement. Specifically, I’m torn between wanting to participate with my fellow activists downtown but realize I have pressing duties that will keep me from spending copious amounts of time with the demonstrators. Hens need the coop winterized, fields need attention, and families need dad to be around. So what do you do? In this case, I think you have to go with your first priorities and allow those who are demonstrating know that you support them. That’s because there is a connection between the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Food Security/Sovereignty movement.

Jean Ziegler, in January 2010, said,  

“In a world overflowing with riches, it is an outrageous scandal that more than 1 billion people suffer from hunger and malnutrition and that every year over 6 million children die of starvation and related causes. We must take urgent action now.”

The United Nations Bill of Rights on Food Security clearly states the right to food is a human right. It protects the right of all human beings to live in dignity, free from hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.

The right to food is not about charity, but about ensuring that all people have the capacity to feed themselves in dignity.  This right to food is protected under international human rights and humanitarian law, and the correlative state obligations are equally well-established under international law.

The right to food is also recognized in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), as well as a vast number of other instruments.

In Canada, we have no National Food Security policy. We do have priorities set out for us by AgricultureCanadaas agreed to internationally. AgCanadastates that, they are “a work in progress which forms a basis for further discussions on the specifics of implementation, including timing, roles and responsibilities, coordination mechanisms and related actions. It is open-ended and flexible, adaptable to changing conditions and responsive to evolving needs. It is not an exhaustive inventory of existing programs or planned actions; rather, it is a blueprint which sets out the highest priorities.”

Food Security means being able to get all the healthy food you need and to enjoy it with friends and family. Food security also includes being able to make a living by growing and producing food in ways that protect, and support, both the land and sea, as well as the food producers, and ensures there will be healthy food for our children’s children.

Food security is the goal we are working toward (Thought About Food? A Workbook on Food Security & Influencing Policy,Nova Scotia).

That being said, we live in a country that pretty much bends to the will of Big Ag, mega companies, and lobbyists. These are companies that seem to have their own way with our health, our land, our pocketbook, our stomachs, our grocery stores, and our future. 

Our government refuses to take the concerns of Genetically Modified food seriously. 

CBC News reported,

“Consumer groups charge the government has been slow to react to changes in the food industry. But the government says it wants to have the infrastructure in place to ensure whether a food has been altered.  “(CBC, 2004).

From consumer groups to dieticians raise a stink about the blatant advertising of junk food to children but nothing gets done about it.

Lobbyists  reassure the governments that they are ‘fortifying’ the junk food so that the kids are eating healthy food. Healthy processed junk food made up of a myriad of chemicals designed to switch on the sugar and salt cravings. Not to mention the fact that the Government allows the purchase and consumption of known carcinogens so the rest of us non-smokers can pay for the Health Care of all those who ingest these chemicals.

We really should expect this. Governments support the monopoly on liquor. It profits from the losses of all those who attend their casinos, and imprisons those who get so addicted to gambling that they steal other people’s life savings.

Well, we’ll just trust the food industry; the agricultural gods. It’s just our future they’re playing with – the DNA of everything on the planet.

So what to do?

March with the activists that I know and support, or feed the hens and harvest food?

For the time being I am afraid it’s a no-brainer. The farm needs us. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a way for each of us to do our part in this Occupy Together movement. We can use our social network sites and our personal connections. We can have discussions with our friends and family who still have not ‘woken up’ or believe the words that the Elite Canadians and Politicians feed us.

We can resist in small ways. Buy local. Get out of personal debt so the bank doesn’t own your ass. Live with less. Refuse to be a materialistic consumer who wants more and more. Help your friends break free from that ‘carnivorous consumer mindset’.

You can read up on what is going on in the world, look for the hidden stories that the media doesn’t want to tell you, or that your government is hiding from you. You can get involved locally wherever you can. Maybe that means your neighbourhood. Maybe that means in your own household.

Sting sings, “History, will teach us nothing.” It is filled with examples of social organizations, movements, businesses and nations, that failed to perceive the realities of a changing environment and didn’t adapt in time to prevent calamity. There are governments that fight for rights of people in a faraway country but stack the deck against their own citizens or mistreat them when they seek change.

How will you respond to the changes happening in our city, our province, our country?

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About the Author

Ian Shalapata
Ian Shalapata is the owner and publisher of Square Media Group. He covers politics, the police beat, community events, the arts, sports, and everything in between. His imagery and freelance contributions have appeared in select publications and for organizations in Canada and the United States. Contact Ian with story ideas.