"Honestly, that's the essence of Food Sovereignty: when you're growing your own food, you're controlling the production of your food, you're controlling everything about it. To me, that also ties in to land ownership.
The Lower Nine once had the highest Black home ownership rate in the entire city and one of the highest around the country, over sixty-five percent. I think the tragedy is that so many people lost not just their homes, but their property, their land. If you have land, you can build a house on it, you can grow food on it. It's yours and no one can tell you to leave.
I think we play sort of a small part in the larger picture of the food justice efforts. For me, it's very important for our community to honor positive, cultural values and the idea of self-reliance, the idea of health and close-knit community. During our programming, we've never really called out issues of Food Justice, or even really used that terminology, except with our youth interns. But it is there.
I led a training this past season that was specifically about Food Justice so the kids could understand the concepts. I feel like we're teaching the essence of Food Justice through influencing or reintegrating this idea of valuing quality food as a cultural tradition."
"In the 90's there was a discerned effort to figure out why communities, like West Oakland, were having specific elevated health issues – with assumptions food access, nutrition education, diet were correlated to ill health. So researches would come through, do these surveys and say, "Hey, you’re sick. You don't have access to healthy food." Community would be really bothered because they were like, "Obviously we know that. We live that every day" . . . After more thorough findings, there was a group of residents that asked, "Okay. This is more thorough information, but we're still talking about the problem. What are possible solutions?" This led to a planning grant to do some thinking with residents, some local agencies and other Community Based Organizations (CBO). This effort became the foundation of our work now. Our core question was, “How do we increase access to healthy food in our community, but do it in a way that also builds local economy?"
As part of launching our Indiegogo campaign, we wanted to interview community partners about their program and perspectives on the Food Justice movement, as well ask them about to share stories of how this movement is transforming individuals within their community.
Our first interview is with Catherine “Cat” Jaffee, the Director of Communications and Public Affairs for Re:Vision International in Denver Colorado. Catherine spent her first 25 years living in Ecuador, Japan, Australia, France, the US, and Eastern Turkey. She was a National Geographic Young Explorer, a Fulbright Scholar, a Luce Fellow, and the Founder of Balyolu: the Honey Road, in Turkey’s Northeast. She worked in many countries with Ashoka, before joining Re:Vision. You can view the digital story Cat created with StoryCenter online.