Hello, and welcome to Righting Our Relations with Food, a podcast series where we meet with guests from across the country to discuss food security and food sovereignty, and how we can make changes to our food system with a focus on Canada. Righting Relations is a national network of adult educators and community organizers working for radical social change. And this series is part of a larger project on food sovereignty and the sustainable development goals. So if you're interested in learning more, please check out our YouTube channel and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. In this, the final episode in our series, we're excited to share the conclusion of the roundtable discussion on youth food security and intergenerational food activism. This discussion was recorded at our national agenda 2030 conference in March 2022. Where we welcomed Brandon and Ben from Food Not Bombs Edmonton, Cassidy Daskalchuk from the University of Regina Student Union pantry, Olivia Boyce of the Brandon Manitoba food Council, Karen Secord of the Parkdale Food Center, and Kathryn Lennon from Hungry Zine. Alright, so for the sake of time, I'm gonna get one of you to answer this question. How can we think outside the box in terms of like addressing, like poverty and also like food security?
Yeah. So to pull things out of the box of just food sovereignty, we need to think about food sovereignty in terms of sovereignty, right. So it's not just the ability of a community to control, you know, their food production, because if they, you know, if they have this nominal control over their food production, but they don't have control over other aspects of their lives, they don't actually have control over their food production, its distribution and its consumption. So like, if you live in a, if your household income, if half of that is going to rent, you don't have food sovereignty, right? If you have to worry that your nieces and nephews are going to grow up not understanding your language, you don't have food sovereignty. If the farmer who grows your wheat doesn't own his own seeds, you don't have food sovereignty, if you can't meet the farmer that grows your feet, you don't have food sovereignty, if your daughter's image of herself is coming from Instagram, then you don't have food sovereignty, right. And it's important to be able to, to be able to draw these connections between movements, right to be able to say, well hang on, if I don't have an understanding of what's going on in the world, right? That's really going to impact my ability to feed myself if I don't have control over my education over my information, if my media is controlled, if my education is controlled, if the defense of my community is controlled by people who don't necessarily have my best interests at heart and who are interested in profit or power, that is going to lead to a lack of food sovereignty, even if it doesn't lead to food insecurity, even if that person, even if the entire community, everyone is fed, and they're getting enough calories, and they're getting the nutrition that they need, if that can be taken away from them. That is an absolute crime against humanity, and that needs to be addressed.
Thank you, Brandon. And to Kathryn.
Yeah, I think that this kind of discussion is kind of how we got to creating Hungry Zine. Because we felt that we needed if we needed more opportunities for for people to share their experience and stories with food in their own words. differently. And just I think the types of submissions we receive are really, really beautiful. Like our first issue was on home cooking, thinking about how during pandemic times, like people were just like thinking, what what's in my cupboard, like, what can I do? And our next issue that's coming out soon, it's called, "It's Complicated", and that one kind of delves into stories that are like some of them are really sad. Some of them are really beautiful, but just about all the different ways that our relationships with food are complicated, whether they're, you know, it's about learning how to one one is talking about how to try to limit like food waste in your fridge when you're also living with ADHD, or how to learn a recipe from your family member when there's like points of conflict and tension that arise. And so I think just opening up the space to hear these stories, has has been a way to, to get outside of that box. And to think about, think about food differently and just broaden out, even even, like, you know, like, I've been around food security work for a while and just, you know, the jargon we use, like the ways we talk about food security and food insecurity and food systems. It's not always very accessible, but everyone eats, everyone has some connection to food, you know, whether it is positive or not. So I think just opening up again, opening up that space to connect, and you know, again, starting starting a publication, during pandemic times, we found you know, a lot of people, for them, it's a way to almost like feel like you're sitting around a kitchen table with new friends like sharing stories. And so I think like thinking outside the box can also be about thinking about different ways to connect. And, you know, we we create a publication that can be mailed out, it's something you can hold in your hands, we also do so it is it is for sale, but we do a digital copy that's pay whatever, pay whatever you want. So you know, we wanted to make it accessible to everyone. But yeah, I just think through through hearing stories, we've heard a lot of a lot of really important voices. And yeah, I guess, I guess just trying to challenge as well. Maybe just one more thing, like, you know, we were kind of frustrated with the way that a lot of food storytelling in the media is like ranking restaurants, and, you know, the best of lists and critiquing restaurants for their food. And again, we're like, we're interested in the people behind these places, like who what are their stories? You know, what are what are some of the complex, like, underlying issues of like labor and gender and class and decolonization that the kind of like are under all of all of underpin all of these things? And I think there's still a lot, we have a lot more conversations to be had about all of these topics. So I think yeah, I think that's how we're working. We're just trying to like create more spaces for these conversations and to reach different audiences. We - yeah, we are taking we are taking submissions for our next issue. Anyone can submit, we just don't take international submissions yet. We wanted to kind of stay stay here. But I'll, I can answer anything else in the chat that comes up. Thank you.
Thank you. And to Cassidy.
Yeah, so I, well, everybody here knows that, of course, we need the top down approach to we need the help from our government, we need our governments to recognize that things need to change. But waiting on the bigger systems can be really exhausting for the individual. And it often leaves us feeling disempowered, because we aren't really sure how to help even though we want to. So I think looking at how we can build food sovereignty from a bottom up approach, the best we can can really empower the individual even when the system is failing them. So just as everybody here is saying, like just finding ways to contribute your skills to help leverage the voices and opportunities of people in your community and creating equitable spaces for people to express themselves and to be who they are and to contribute to the world around them, I think will ultimately create more empowered people. And this can be done through Well, I guess, within your communities and neighborhoods, just finding ways to remind people that needing extra assistance isn't their fault. And like having those conversations around the stigmas. And those with the ability to help should try to provide resources and tools for people within their community to help one another. And we of course need to be empowering the youth with the knowledge they need to take action and create mutual aid efforts. And just remember that, like, I guess each person in your community is valuable, and everyone around us has a different skill and different connections and different ideas and the collective of all those characteristics can just build really supportive networks in our communities. So I think it's essential to just do our best to work together to be a good neighbor to empower the individual without waiting for a total reform from the system above us. And in that sense, we can have a small bit of control over our food system, even if it isn't on the fully grand scale.
Thank you, and Olivia?
Well this is a tough one to come in after all of these really great answers. Um, yeah, I'll just reiterate addressing the root causes of food insecurity, with, you know, raising minimum wage and all of those systemic things that we need to be addressing needs to be the underpinning of our work and the foundation of our work. I know everyone knows this, but community gardens and community kitchens aren't going to solve food insecurity. And then from there building out food security work as a collective of like the five A's of food security, so adequacy, you know, making sure people have nutrition, environmental sustainability, all of those pieces that are really important to building community, and to making a holistic food system, and building out our local economy. Engaging, inter, intersectionalities focusing on you know, everyone, when we engage everyone, not just everyone that's involved in different sectors in the food system, but you know, everyone eats food as a way to bring everyone to the table. And everyone has a stake in in the food system. So I think food is a really easy way to connect with people. And I think everyone cares about food, it's easy to have these kinds of conversations, it's easy to bring people in. And when you can have conversations with people that you don't normally have conversations with, that's when really cool ideas come out and come about. And so yeah, I know, everyone here is doing really good work to us, I feel like I'm kind of like speaking to the choir a little bit, but just like build relationships in your community, and be open to ideas and supportive of ideas and help other people to achieve their solutions. Because everyone is an individual and has ideas really cool ideas for the community and things that just you normally wouldn't think of. And so I don't, don't carry the weight yourself, don't carry the burden yourself. It's hard work. And it's never ending work. And that's just the reality of it. And so like looking back 30 years down the road, you know, what's going to be success for you? How are you going to know that you made a difference? You don't want to be cranky? You know, if you burn yourself out doing this work? What good does that do? Anyone? So I just, yeah, I want to encourage you all to like, keep taking care of yourselves, while you're taking care of everyone else. Because you're all doing really amazing.
Thank you, Karen?
Yeah, food is really, really emotional. It's not only that we that we all, you know, love food. But as I know from saying in the media, all those years ago, you know, don't give us Kraft dinner, chips pop and candy and someone threatened to burn the food bank down. And you know, it became a North American news story. You know, Ottawa Food Bank refuses food, and all of a sudden, I realized, Oh, my goodness, people are really, really connected to giving their cans of food to a food bank. So I mean, we have to address it at at the individual level Cassidy, you're absolutely right. But as organizations, I think we need to not silo, we need to be talking to each other. We need to be we need to be thinking we're going to be doing this food banking thing. And another four years, if we don't start doing something different. And while some of us we think, are, are really pushing forward and have have changed things, it's gonna take a long time to make change. unless we do something we we see that how people are becoming really divisive. And we see this populism growing and racism and hate. And people like you guys, give me such hope. And we have some youth programs. And how we chose in 2016, to start addressing some of this is we developed a program called Growing Futures. And I have this real idea and commitment that young people, really young people, as young as kids in kindergarten, influenced the way that adults behave. They influence how their parents what they purchase, how they move around in society, what they do where they live. And so we started creating a series of social justice workshops, and bringing them to schools, and we bought hydroponic units, and we started growing food in schools and in public spaces. And students started writing postcards to their politicians, and we call them solution Ares. And so while people may not listen to me, they are listening to those young people. And, and they're starting to make the change that we want to see. So it is on a micro level. But is it amazing how young people even that young in grade three, four and five, are starting to make changes. And so I mean, older people like me and organist Asians, we can be going to politicians and, and we can be saying, you know, we need to be talking about human rights. And maybe some of you might like to talk about a class action lawsuit on the human right to food. And I participate in a group, a global group on like global solidarity alliance for food, health and social justice. There's a few of us in Canada, a lot in the States and in the UK. If any of you are interested in that group, I'm sure that my email has been sent around, but it is the website is Rights, Not Charity. And it's a pretty good website. So have a look at it. Lots of stuff to read. And I have, every month I have somebody come in and speak to my staff will come in on Zoom. So they can read up and really think about some of these issues so we can stay fresh and current. And, you know, because we don't always have opportunities to speak with people across Canada like you.
We would like to thank all of our fantastic guests who joined us this season and all of our listeners for their continued support. The next season of Righting Relations Radio will explore stories of and reflection on healing and resistance from members across Canada. We hope you'll join us again. Until then, thank you for listening!