Eat, drink, be merry and change the world for the better


You have got to make it clear that there is room

in the socialist movement for human beings,

or the game is up.

George Orwell / Road to Wigan Pier


FOOD ACTIVISTS SELDOM GET TO SIT AT THE GROWNUPS TABLE. Wayne Roberts thinks this is a mistake.

Roberts is a Canadian food policy analyst, activist and writer. NOW Magazine named him one of Toronto’s leading visionaries. He sees food activism as a way to bring more wins, and some much needed humanity, to the broad political struggle for human liberation and joy.

“Too many dangerous ideologies came from forgetting the primacy of cherishing pleasure and conviviality. Food can remind us of that,” says Roberts “and thereby lead us to be wise in our radicalism, and put people’s needs first.”

Roberts is no romantic. His grand vision of how much more we can gain from food activism is grounded in the hard truth that we all need food to survive. But, that hard truth does not eliminate the human truth that “man does not live by bread alone.”

We all know the importance of emotional and mental nourishment to human survival. Roberts observes: “The need for food dovetails with the need to be together.”

Roberts also points out the practical aspects that come with the pleasure of sharing a meal with friends. He writes: “These pleasures are central to our ability to do what has to be done to hang in, plan for the future, and have relationships that lead to more food.

For Roberts: “Food is radical because it teaches us to start with our biology and to live in our gut, not just our head. The gut is as important to human evolution as the brain, and we need to show it that respect — not fill it with the cheapest junk we can find.

The mother of all movements

Food activism may be a “sleeper issue” now. But it has the makings of an issue that can be more resilient and persistent than highly-charged politicized movements like Occupy, that flare, then die away. In fact, Jonathan R. Latham, Ph.D., cofounder and executive director of the Bioscience Resource Project, believes the food movement to be “unstoppable.”

The most obvious feature of the food movement is that it’s appeal is universal: we all have to eat. As that becomes more difficult, more and more of us will become activists.

But, Latham points out the food movement has a lot more going for it than the fear of some Doomsday scenario about food shortages. He lists five key features that make the food movement the one for us all to watch and replicate. The food movement is:

  • leaderless

  • grassroots based

  • inclusive

  • low-budget

  • open-minded

The result is a truly mass-based movement, free of gurus, or dictators; with it’s actual toes in the actual dirt of its many gardens and home neighbourhoods; open to all people in all regions, from all cultures and nations; with everyone able to do their own thing at not much more cost than sweat equity and personal passion; and finally, it is not infected with dogma or “right think,” beyond the belief that having enough healthy food to eat is a human right.

Roberts adds two more qualities to this list:

the food movement is positive and action oriented

the food movement feeds our senses.

Roberts points out the people in the food movement are “actionists,” who seek solutions that are positive and even joyous. They don’t just talk a good game, they can’t wait to get into it.

“Many things about the world, and about food can make us angry, but they do not require or justify negativity or hate,” says Roberts. “The food movement is unabashedly a movement of positive, joyful hope. We’re far sweeter than sugar!”

We need food and the experiences it brings to counter the increasing de-humanizing of our lives with digital technology and info-metrics used to convince us there is no alternative to the corporate vision.

Food can liberate us from all that. Roberts says: “To love food is to...keep conviviality, sensuality, holistic health, and humble human needs and pleasures at the forefront of our understanding.”

All in all, the food movement offers a perfect recipe for out-smarting and out-maneuvering the clanking and lumbering juggernaught of the military-industrial-media complex.

It’s time we invited the foodies to sit with us at the grownups table.

- 30 -

J. R. LATHAM: “Why the food movement is unstoppable”



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