Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

What Does Food Have to Do With Occupy Wall Street?

What Does Food Have to Do With Occupy Wall Street?

Slow Food USA

What began with an encampment of makeshift cardboard tents and an impromptu sidewalk gallery of protest signs has exploded into a movement that’s spawning sister protests nationwide. But as numbers grow, so do logistical challenges. How do you feed a crowd of 20,000?

At the cafeteria-style kitchen in Zuccotti Square (the OWS base camp), plates of donated food are doled out by a rotating cast of volunteers, including trained chefs (the overwhelming quantity of donated food has organizers scrambling to donate to local shelters, ensuring nothing is wasted). Operating on 100 percent food donations means the kitchen team has to improvise based on what’s at hand, and prepare any hot meals at apartments or kitchen space in the neighborhood. However improvised, the kitchen supports the values of the activists—food scraps go into a compost bin and dishwater passes through a filter to be reused.

Good, clean and fair food is a value of the activists, but what does it have to do with Wall Street? Food justice writer and activist Jan Poppendeick says the connection is corporate control of agriculture. The statistics are staggering. For example, 90 percent of the corn market is dominated by three companies, and the result is the degradation of human health, the environment and the future health of the food supply. Reclaiming control of the food system from corporate entities is one of the written tenets of the Occupy Wall Street declaration—corporations have poisoned the food supply through negligence and have undermined the farming system through monopolization. Another tenet speaks to animal cruelty inflicted by the common industrial practice of confining animals into tight, inhumane quarters.

Does eating the fast food pizza that comes in through donations undermine their critique? Some say yes, and choose to wait out mealtimes until food arrives that’s in line with their values. Others say it’s worth it to make an exception about what’s on your plate today in order to transform the menus of tomorrow. Food activist Christina Schiavoni of WhyHunger, who distributed farmers market veggies as she marched, said that she would love to see more local, sustainable or organic options available in the kitchen, but noted that the food served is “representative of the current situation. There is no simple way to get fresh, healthy foods down there.”

Some committed individuals and organizations have begun to change that. Kitchen volunteers are seeing more donations coming from farmers markets, and even farmers themselves. Ken Jaffe, the owner of Slope Farms Beef and a US Terra Madre delegate, hopes to be part of that change, offering to come down from the Catskills with his grass-fed ground beef in tow. Jaffe doesn’t just want to give away his meat. He's making connections between Occupy Wall Street and rural issues, and asserts that “there are a lot of people in rural upstate that feel very connected with what they are doing.” He does worry that the link between rural America and the concerns of Occupy Wall Street has yet to be clearly expressed.

With so many messages on t-shirts and banners, it’s hard for any one to rise to the top, but it’s clear that food activists are present on the scene. As Sheila Salmon Nichols noted on our Facebook page, “We might not all agree on all the ideologies of OWS…however, their position on what is happening to our food system is spot-on! Hopefully, this collective energy will move our country/world in a more positive, peaceful and sustainable direction!”

For more information, click here.

Radiation-contaminated water tanks and damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Feb. 25, 2016 in Okuma, Japan. Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Japan will release radioactive wastewater from the failed Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean, the government announced on Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Antarctica's Thwaites Glacier, aka the doomsday glacier, is seen here in 2014. NASA / Wikimedia Commons / CC0

Scientists have maneuvered an underwater robot beneath Antarctica's "doomsday glacier" for the first time, and the resulting data is not reassuring.

Read More Show Less
Trending
Journalists film a protest by the environmental organization BUND at the Datteln coal-fired power plant in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany on April 23, 2020. Bernd Thissen / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

Lead partners of a global consortium of news outlets that aims to improve reporting on the climate emergency released a statement on Monday urging journalists everywhere to treat their coverage of the rapidly heating planet with the same same level of urgency and intensity as they have the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read More Show Less
Airborne microplastics are turning up in remote regions of the world, including the remote Altai mountains in Siberia. Kirill Kukhmar / TASS / Getty Images

Scientists consider plastic pollution one of the "most pressing environmental and social issues of the 21st century," but so far, microplastic research has mostly focused on the impact on rivers and oceans.

Read More Show Less
A laborer works at the site of a rare earth metals mine at Nancheng county, Jiangxi province, China on Oct. 7, 2010. Jie Zhao / Corbis via Getty Images

By Michel Penke

More than every second person in the world now has a cellphone, and manufacturers are rolling out bigger, better, slicker models all the time. Many, however, have a bloody history.

Read More Show Less