On hunger, food justice, and decolonization

I’m not sure how much I’ve written about it here in this blog, but in case it’s not apparent, I’m a huge nerd / graduate student. While I’ve long loved food, cooking, and writing about those things, an even bigger part of my personal and professional interest lies in researching about food politics, globalization, and decolonization movements.

There’s the big picture stuff I look at:  the ways in which the production of commodity crops has left farmers and their families in the US and all over the world with little to nothing to eat; the exportation of government-subsidized American surplus crops like rice to Third World nations who buy at it ridiculously marked up costs when HELLO they can and should be growing it domestically anyway; and the structural adjustment programs undertaken by nations like the Philippines as a condition to receive loans from the World Bank, programs which have totally destroyed the economy and society of these nations. A bit heavy, but really important especially when trying to make educated decisions about where you decide to spend your money, or where to get your food, or who to vote for… you get my gist. (You can read Raj Patel’s excellent and easily-accessible, aka not full of academic jargon, book Stuffed and Starved for the background if you want to know more! Or South Asian ecofeminist Vandana Shiva’s brilliant and brief collection, Manifestos on the Future of Food and Seed, featuring essays by the likes of Michael Pollan.)

So that’s the food politics and globalization part. But even more exciting to me is the decolonization part– you know, the part where people of color in First World nations like the US, and folks in the global South work to change their communities and nations for the better, and by more than just signing a petition. The community gardens and people’s groceries; the organized farm workers’ and peasants’ movements; the films, YouTube videos, and other cultural productions people make around food justice; even the decolonial kitchens that many undertake in the privacy of their own homes: these movements, big and small, are inspiring, empowering, and have offered me more sustenance (materially and symbolically) than I could ever give back. But I try, to give back that is, and want to use this little space on the internet to start documenting this work a little more. The pretty pictures and food reviews will still be there, but perhaps different, a little more intentional, maybe.  Also, but not unrelated, I’ve been taking some steps more recently to change my own eating and fitness habits, that I might be documenting here, too.

So, we’ll see how this goes. My posts will probably be erratic, and may never be regular, but I’m excited to begin talking more about my political and academic work–and yummy food– in the same space.

Til next time… eat well!

(Photo taken by Anne D. Umil for Bulatlat, of recent protests around Hacienda Luisita in the Philippines. I’ll be blogging more about this later, but for basic information on the situation, click here).

Posted on September 21, 2010, in food justice and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. you go for it! you become our Alice! (and hopefully not so hippy)

    Talking about the Philippines, we should grow our own rice. For Juan’s sake we have the IRRI in our land and we can’t even grow enough rice to feed the population. The current administration is hopeful though. Let’s wait and see. Meanwhile, write more of this stuff. Huha!

  2. Oh Em Gee. i dunno what took me so long to look through your posts (well, ok, there’s lots of KCC peeps lol! wait, you’re part of KCC right?)

    no matter, here i am. finally fresh from a fiery conversation about food and colonization then finding ur writings. i tried to avoid it, i really did. not for any reason except i wanted a teenie tiny break from what i do during the day.

    i’m so glad someone else understands. and ps, i’m double-dipping right now and also reading your review on that place called…Bale Dutung. made me laugh oh so so much.

    ok, ok i’ll end this ridiculously long hello-nice-to-meet-you comment.

  3. the narratives around food come in many stripes – from thought-provoking and fierce, grounded and earthy, to decadent and just plain fluffy. what’s really at the center is the need and desire to decolonize. i really look forward to reading more of your posts!

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