Sowing Holistic Foodways: 5 Womxn and Non-Binary Folx Ushering in the Food Revolution


“The Recovery of the people is tied to recovery of food, since food itself is medicine – not only for the body but also for the soul and the spiritual connection to history, ancestors, and the land.

Winona LaDuke

How have womxn disproportionately dealt with issues related to food security and food justice? Who is responsible for agro-industry and its devastating effects on the Earth’s peoples and natural systems? And who will lead the way into more holistic and regenerative food systems?

These are all questions that the eco-feminist food movement seeks to answer. By emphasizing the intersection of womxn and nature as oppressed under similar patriarchal structures, we understand that voices so ignored in the industry are those that carry the wisdom and the way to holistic foodways. This article highlights the work of five profound womxn and non-binary folx who break chains daily to revolutionize the food system, thus fortifying our connections with our bodies, our communities, and the Earth at large.


1. Sana Javeri Kadri

photo by Laila Bahman

In 2016, Sana Javeri Kadri, with an awareness of the injustice so deeply integrated into the American spice market, sought to create a radically inclusive spice company that places economic and social authority into the hands of Indian farmers.

The result is Diaspora Co. , a queer, womxn-of-color owned business rooted in justice and fair trade. The Oakland based company sources turmeric from a fouth-generation, family-owned organic farm in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, India, paying farmers up to six times the average commodity price for turmeric via direct trade, eliminating the middlemen traditionally intertwined in the spice market.

By working closely with the Institute of Spices Research, Kadri successfully ensures a 100% heirloom product that promotes the health and heritage of organic turmeric while celebrating tradition and origin. Her business serves as a platform to champion womxn and queer people of color, fostering community in Oakland and beyond, and ultimately serving as a decolonizing force in agro-industry.


2. Jillian Hishaw

Photo courtesy of Jillian Hishaw

Jillian Hishaw studied law at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, where she was made aware of the social, economic, and legal oppression facing black American farmers, who make up less than two percent of America’s farming population.

After the loss of her own family farm, she launched Family Agriculture Resource Management Services (FARMS), an organization dedicated to protecting black and other historically disadvantaged farmers from losing their land. FARMS provides legal and technical assistance to farmers in navigating complicated agricultural law and ultimately in avoiding foreclosure and land loss.

The FARMS to Food Bank program, another facet of the non-profit organization, helps farmers sell surplus produce and meat at a discount to food banks in their communities, tackling food security and justice related issues in typically food insecure communities.

Hishaw’s work promotes and upholds diversity in the world of American agriculture, an industry that tends to place the wellbeing of farmers of color on the back burner. By helping black American farmers maintain their land, her work deconstructs agro-industry and reshapes our food future from the ground up.


3. Vandana Shiva 

Photo courtesy of Dr. Vandana Shiva

Dr. Vandana Shiva is an Indian scholar, environmental activist, and food sovereignty advocate with a focus on radical deep ecology and ecofeminism. As a leader of the International Forum on Globalization, she views agriculture as a tool to preserve biodiversity and indigenous knowledge.

Shiva founded Seed Freedom, a movement and organization committed to ‘the laws of Gaia, Pachamama, Vasundhara, Mother Earth.’ With a dedication to protecting the integrity of the native seed, she has worked with local communities and organizations to establish 34 seed banks in 13 states across the country.

As the founder of the gender unit at the International Centre for Mountain Development (ICIMOD) as well as the Women’s Environment & Development Organization (WEDO), and the author of various books and over 300 papers on the green revolution, the global food supply, and privatization and more, she is the recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, the Global 500 Award of the UN, the Lennon Ono Grant for Peace, and one of Time magazine’s “Environmental Heros”. Ultimately, she works tirelessly to protect the food sovereignty and heritage of India’s farmers.


4. Luz Calvo

Photo courtesy of University of Arizona Global

Luz Calvo is a Professor of Ethnic Studies at Cal State East Bay where they teach courses in Latino/a Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Food Justice, and Ethnic Studies. Dr. Calvo focuses on the American diet as an act of colonization that exploits traditional indigenous foods and peoples and disproportionately harms communities of color. Through ancestral foodways, they unearth passageways into health, sovereignty, and the reclaiming of culture.

Dr. Calvo co-authored Decolonize Your Diet with their partner, Catriona R. Esquibel, an assistant professor in Race and Resistance Studies at San Francisco State University. Decolonize Your Diet is a collection of plant-based recipes, cooking techniques, and discourse of ingredients that promote knowledge and utilization of ancestral foods, herbs, and teas. Its goal? to connect people to the healing properties of food, not only for nutritional reasons, but also for its ways of creating comfort and fostering connection.

The central tenet of the book is “Comida es Medicina” (Food is Medicine). The Standard American Diet has cause disproportionate rates of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer within US-born Latinx communities – for Calvo, every meal is an opportunity to heal, to tap into ancestral roots, and to break the chains of an agricultural system that benefits few and harms most.  


5. Winona LaDuke

Promotional photo for the Kickstarter campaign Winona’s Hemp and Heritage Farm, 2017.

As Program Director of Honor the Earth, an organization dedicated to promoting ‘indigenous wisdom, music, and art to raise awareness and support for Indigenous Environmental Issues”, Winona LaDuke works to secure financial and political resources for the survival of Native communities and their traditions.  

One of LaDuke’s primary areas of concern is food sovereignty, ‘the right of people to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods’. She works to restore ancient, diverse varieties of food, allowing tribes to regain control of their own food and economies, and in turn fostering soil health and carbon sequestration.

As the author of six books, the executive director of two non-profits, and the recipient of countless awards including an induction into the National Women’s’ Hall of Fame, one of Time magazine’s fifty most promising leaders under forty years of age, and the Slow Food Award for Biodiversity, Winona LaDuke fights the good fight, nurturing the roots of the peoples who worked this land first.


As the Earth embodies extreme transition, so too should we.  For questions of a more regenerative food system, one rooted in justice, biodiversity, and fair trade in the most literal sense, answers lie with womxn and non-binary folx.

Let us decolonize our minds and shift leadership into the hands of the feminine forces that create monumental waves in the food system daily. Let us look to these five spectacular examples of people who work tirelessly to create a new food system, one rooted in holistic processes, ancestral roots, ethical trade, and decolonization. Only then will we harvest the holistic food future ourselves and this Earth so firmly demand.


Earth Journeys is honored to offer programs to support earth-rooted, free-spirited and heart-centered leaders embody their vision, cultivate wholeness from within, stay accountable, bloom into their passion and make an impact and a livelihood. Next up is an intimate 3-Month Online Group Mentorship Program with a 3-day in-person retreat included beginning May 1st, 2019. If this calls to you as a leader, apply before it fills up!

Shifting the Narrative of Thanksgiving: The True Story

Many of us associate Thanksgiving with happy Pilgrims and Indians sitting down to a big feast. That peaceful dinner did happen – once. However, the greater story surrounding Thanksgiving has been far overlooked and misconstrued.

Without taking away the essence of the holiday of gratitude, it is important to honor and be informed of the origin story. Knowing the truth, might spark ideas of how to incorporate an offering to our Native American allies during your Thanksgiving celebration or take greater action towards social justice in your daily life.

Image from – The Great Dying: New Englands Coastal Plague

The origin story began in 1614 when a band of Pilgrims sailed home to England with a ship full of Patuxet Native Americans bound for slavery. They left behind smallpox which basically wiped out the rest of the Native Americans who had escaped.

“The woods were almost cleared of those pernicious creatures, to make room for a better growth.” – Cotton Mather, Magnalia Christi Americana

When the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts Bay they found only one living Patuxet Native man, Squanto. He had survived slavery in England and learned their language.  Squanto showed the colonialists how to grow corn and to fish, and he negotiated a peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Nation. At the end of their first year, the Pilgrims held the well-known feast honoring Squanto and the Wampanoags.

In 1637 over 700 men, women and children of the Pequot Peoples had gathered in Connecticut for their annual Green Corn Festival, original Thanksgiving celebration. On this day, a band of heavily armed colonial volunteers massacred these 700 Pequot Native Americans. The next day the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared “A Day Of Thanksgiving” because in honor of the massacre.

19th century wood engraving of the 1637 slaughter of 700 Pequots, Granger collection (NYC)

After this horrendus massacre, the murders became more and more frenzied, with days of thanksgiving feasts being held after each horrendous mass slaughter. Finally, instead of celebrating after each massacre, George Washington proclaimed that only one day of Thanksgiving per year be set for the feast. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln decreed Thanksgiving Day to be a legal national holiday during the Civil War.

This massacre and those to follow set a precedent for normalizing colonization and mass murder, oppression and manipulation all throughout the US. The fictional history we’ve learned in school paints beautiful picture of peace when really, it was the day that established a long, painful history of Native American brutality.

This mythical story liberates American’s from experiencing a negative view of our country. We have been blinded from the truth and this is just one of thousands of ways we have been manipulated to believe that our country was founded on good morals and justice and continues to be spun that way. It is our duty as awakened citizens to know the truth and find ways to become part of re-balancing the oppression and injustices in our daily lives.

Here are some essential ways to be an ally to Native Americans on Thanksgiving (and beyond)

 

  1. Learn about inequalities that still exist within indigenous culture. Indigenous communities around the United States face major injustices every-day. Many Native Americans communities have higher ratesof alcohol abuse, suicide and unintentional injuries than the general population. Educate yourself on these social inequalities that Native American’s still face today to develop empathy, a better national perspective and to find ways to be a better ally on these issues.
  2. Decolonize your mind. Find the Sacred. This means to humble ourselves and accept our role in the greater social and natural ecosystem of the earth. It means to learn to embody and understand our interconnection with every plant, animal and human being. We must take responsibility for our every day words and choices because what we do, effects everything else. This is also a basic tenant of most Native American cosmologies.
  3. Take the time to learn about the indigenous history of where you live. Long before our lands were colonized, Native American’s were tending the lands we walk upon. Their history and spirit still remains in the land and must be acknowledged and honored. It is important to learn about the people, the history and the culture of the borrowed land we live on. There are maps you can find online to learn the names of the Indigenous Peoples that loved the land you live upon.
  4. Support Native American artists. Native American’s face strict penalties if they violate the Indian Arts & Crafts Act of 1990, which essentially says you have to be a member of a federally or state recognized tribe or certified as a Native artist by a tribe in order to sell items marketed as Native-made, or tribally-specific products. This makes it increasingly challenging for them to compete with cheaper, more easily accessible factory made items not made by Native’s. Next time you think about buying any crafts that look Native American, spend the extra time to purchase it hand-made from a Native person.

We often underestimate the power of truth. As we are exposed to authentic history, it doesn’t have to taint our joy or magic in Thanksgiving or other holidays. Instead, we can allow the truth to empower us and change us. We can choose to apply a greater sense of gratitude towards Native Americans, their struggles, the oppression they continue to face and evolve the way we think and act that supports decolonization.

How will you choose to honor the origin story of Thanksgiving Day this holiday season and beyond? 

10 Unexpected Ways to Take Back Your Political Power

With our current political climate, it is easy to adopt a mindset of fear and panic. You may feel powerless against the system and feel like the future is bleak for generations to come. Rather than hoping someone will save the day, remember that we have more power than we realize and can take matters into our own hands if we work together.

We can have a hugely positive impact on our planet even from our bedroom, in our pajamas. Why? Because the inner revolution IS the revolution. And what we do, no matter how small it may seem matters. 

SO WITHOUT FURTHER ADIEU, HERE ARE 10 UNEXPECTED WAYS YOU CAN TAKE BACK YOUR POLITICAL POWER:

1. Hack your brain back

In what ways have we been programmed to sit up straight, listen to authority, not critically think or ask questions about the way our system functions? In what ways have we been brain-washed into thinking that the public education we received was sufficient to reach our fullest potential or that the only way to success was to take out a fat student loan?

Ask yourself: What is it that we need to unlearn to regain our autonomy and ask critical questions that challenge the status quo if we see it isn’t effective?

Ask yourself: WHY do you believe what you believe? Is it strictly based on how your parents raised you, or how the media raised you?

Question everything: Set aside time to reflect on your habits, beliefs and stories that you tell yourself. Are they serving you? Are they true for you? Where did they come from?

Awareness is power. When we know who we are and what we believe, we have the “oomph” to go after what we want, live our truth and inspire others from a place of authentic alignment. It’s helpful to revisit your values and stick with friends, work and play that share the same values. It’s up to each individual to snap out of a zombified media-obsessed pack of sheep and learn about what matters on our own accord.

2. Vote with your dollar

The earth has finite resources yet corporations have goals of unlimited growth and manufacturing. So you know what we could put the brakes on just a little? Buying new and cheaply manufactured products. Most products in the US are produced overseas and this contributes massively to negative human and environmental impact and they usually break quickly and end up in landfills. You may not being getting such a good deal as you think you are. Why not try giving something used a home? There are treasures to be found everywhere, especially in the second-hand world. Everything from clothes to electronics, to furniture, to, well, everything.

Our political power extends way beyond the voting booth. As consumers we have a magical secret weapon: our wallets. Companies will follow trends informed by our buying habits, so the more we favor responsible supply chains, the better. Buying local and seasonal means less fossil fuels are burned to get what you need. Buying organic means that less toxic sprays are used on your food and blow into neighboring properties. Buying fair trade or from a trusted source means that an effort was made to make sure those producing the product are not being exploited. Keeping your money in a local and community owned credit union keeps your money away from big banks that are funding big oil pipelines. By supporting companies that are aligned with our values we are creating a seriously positive ripple in the world of business which spills out into our communities and our planet. As the saying goes, money talks and there is power in numbers. Even if you don’t think you can afford this shift, really look at where your money is going and consider giving up any guilty pleasures for higher quality and more sustainable choices.

3. Use gratitude as a revolutionary act

When we don’t feel good about ourselves, (and we are constantly getting messages from the media are our society that we are NOT good enough) we seek to fill that void through external possessions and experiences. This is great for corporations that actually profit off of all of these things that we buy, but not so good for us or the earth. But the good news is, we can fight back with our choice to be satisfied with what we have. When we are grateful and satisfied, we don’t need to fill our voids with being consumers. Instead we can find happiness and joy in the simple things in life.  

By consciously choosing to focus on what is good and positive in our lives, we are actually re-wiring our brains. There is a reason many spiritual teachers and even scientists have claimed that gratitude goes hand in hand with happiness. This means that we can be consumers of quality time spent with friends and family as opposed to video games. That we can be consumers and creators of storytelling and music around a campfire instead of a night out at the club. When we are full of simplistic joy, we are satisfied and we don’t need alcohol, fancy toys or a house-full of material possessions. Gratitude acts as a powerful antidote to the pitfalls of constant dissatisfaction and neediness that comes with capitalism and consumerism. In other words, ‘take control and flip the switch on the happiness vacuum’. Thanks to Joanna Macy for bringing “gratitude as a revolutionary act” to our awareness. Leading by example is powerful and those around you notice this energetic shift. It takes just one match to start a wildfire, so by igniting that fire of gratitude, you are reclaiming your power and stoking the fires of others.

4. Start a talking circle in your neighborhood

Earth Journeys: Uniting Changemakers Monthly Meetup

Earth Journeys: Uniting Changemakers Monthly Meetup

You know what really empowers people? Connection. This is why Alcoholics Anonymous is so effective, it brings people together who are isolated and creates community. Love is contagious. And so many of us walk around feeling cut off from ourselves and from each other. We are social creatures and need each other to survive. So much of creating positive change is reliant on the connections that we build. It allows us to feel safe and valued in our community and it allows us to expand our minds and band together.

Getting together with your community not only encourages love and connection but it is also an ancient practice that can facilitate the creation and implementation of solutions to major societal challenges. Host a World Cafe with your neighborhood to harvest collective wisdom and create a plan of action for how to tackle issues in your community.

5. Flex Collective Voting Power

If you want to get into the nitty gritty of how to change policy, it really comes down to two things: money or votes. If you’re not a billionaire who is willing to use “creative” methods to influence decision makers, then it comes down to showing voting power. How do our communities flex our voting power? We organize. Politicians want to stay in office and can be swayed if they know that voters care about a specific issue. If their real mailbox is flooded with handwritten letters, this speaks volumes to what matters to those who actually vote. Using this method, 6,000 letters were written in Ojai, CA to protect the wetlands and natural habitat there. This is just one small example and creativity can be used in full effect- maybe you throw a party where everyone calls their local representatives around an issue that matters. What’s important is to show that real people spent actual time to show they want change.

6. Grow Your Own Food

There are many great reasons why growing your own food is important. One of them being is it creates independence. The key to political empowerment? Self-sufficiency. When we can stand on our own feet and produce our own food, we are taking our power back from large scale food corporations that use harmful chemicals and negatively impact our earth through shipping in produce that is not local. Starting our own garden fuels us to make change on our own instead of relying on outside sources that may not have our best interests at heart. Not only will this be a superhero surge of confidence knowing that we can provide healthy food for ourselves, but it is incredibly rewarding and soul-nourishing. Growing your own food is also a fantastic way to connect with your neighbors in a community garden. Read about 6 steps to starting a community garden here.

 

7. Feed Your Brain with Truth and Knowledge

Earth Journeys: Sustainable Living Tour 2016

Ignorance may be bliss but knowledge is power and the more we learn the less easily we will be swayed by the influence of others. Since the dawn of the internet, we literally have a universe of information at our fingertips and it is the easiest it has ever been to take our education into our own hands. There are tons of free educational resources out there just waiting for us! Sift through topics that you are interested in and want to know more of and form your own views about the world. YouTube will always surprise you. 😉  

One reason why our political system, our food system, our health and consumerism (amongst many other things) are in shambles is because we have been following our leaders blindly and accepting what we are told when the mainstream media is controlled by wealthy groups who put their own spin on stories. Fact check to the best of your ability from primary sources. 

8. Connect with other changemakers and inspired individuals

Earth Journeys: Uniting Changemakers Monthly Meetup

There is a saying: what is kept to oneself diminishes and what is shared expands.  Join local sustainability/health/wellness/personal development meetups in your area to learn something new and to share perspectives. When we have a support system of like-minded individuals, we feel that much more empowered to move forward. Think of it as your own personal cheerleading squad encouraging you and holding your hand along the way. Through collective efforts, we can come up with solutions to social, business, educational and environmental issues and reinvent  what it means to be a citizen of planet earth. In fact, join one of Earth Journeys, Uniting Changemakers meet-ups in Southern California. The next one is August 20th in San Diego area!

9. Take Back Your Health: Food is Medicine

Earth Journeys: Sustainable Living Tour 2016

As we know, what we eat has a tremendous impact on our well-being. Diseases thrive in acidic environments. This is why acidic foods such as sodas, sugary snacks, alcohol and chips wreak havoc on our health and cause us to fall ill. Not to mention toxic chemicals in our food and the use of pesticides. It really is true that we are what we eat and in this day and age our society is plagued with chronic illness and disease.

When we take control and invest in our health and well-being we are taking a political act to prevent giving our money to big pharma and doctors who are trained to treat symptoms as opposed to spend long periods of time looking at the root. It is a sovereign act to choose to learn to harvest and make our own natural medicines, to eat whole-food diets, to forage highly medicinal and nutritional “weeds” for salads and avoid eating as many processed foods as we can. It is also a sovereign act to keep your immune system and body healthy by exercising daily, drinking plenty of water and finding personal wellness practices that resonate with you.

When we feel our best we feel lighter, happier, our minds feel sharper and we have more clarity to empower future generations to do the same. Food is medicine y’all! A truly healthy population is an autonomous independently thinking one.

10. Make Your City Your Canvas with Guerrilla Gardening

Permaculture Action Network

Do you dream of a greener, healthier city? Guerilla gardening to the rescue. Guerilla gardening is gardening without borders, no backyard? No problem. The entire city is yours.  Not only is this a way to revive and beautify overlooked abandoned spaces with lush plant-life, but it is a way to make the vision of regenerative living come to life. Not to mention a seriously creative way to provide healthy and organic food to the masses. Creative techniques like this can cause ripples in communities and open people up to a new way of thinking.

Guerrilla gardening is also a way to plant food on the earth without having to own land. It is a way of creating access to food for anyone who walks by. More green in our cities only encourages our communities to appreciate the beauty and value of plants, therefore inspiring further autonomous action.

“Our thoughts shape our spaces and our spaces return the favor” – Alain de Botton

If we consider our attitude, the way we live our lives, our buying choices, our preventive health practices, and our collaboration with our community as political acts, we will not only feel better and more whole as individuals but also contribute to a paradigm shift. It is a win-win way to take back our political power. When we feel whole, healthy and happy, we have more space in ourselves to give back to the world, to educate the poor, to steward the earth and to feel confident enough to start our own grassroots initiatives or, who knows, maybe even run for office.

It starts from within. One healthy, strong and powerful person can change the world. May we all be the change we wish to see and continue spreading these messages of autonomy and empowerment through acts of self-care and community engagement.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. -” Howard Thurman

If you are ready to step into your power as grassroots leaders, we invite you to join our 12-day Sustainable Living Tour, October 1st.

APPLY NOW FOR OUR 12-DAY TRAVELING RETREAT VISITING SUSTAINABLE LIVING CENTERS IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA.

Get on the bus before it fills up, we’re over half-full! www.earthjourneys.org/tour

 

 

How to Get Out of Your Own Way

Photo by Agustin Carri Photo

Most of the time what prevents us from walking a path that fulfills our own passions and values is ourselves. At the border between bringing a healthy new habit into our lives, a vision we’ve held for a long time or integrating practices that bring us joy, our own patterns often get in the way. Breaking the patterns, re-writing the stories we tell ourselves and getting rid of fear that holds us back can often be a life-long process but it doesn’t have to be.

Here are some of the ways I’ve been able to get out of my own way and walk a path that is truly in line with what brings me the most joy, fulfillment and freedom to do what I love.

  • Observe non-serving patterns. This is the first step. We have the choice to notice what tendencies we have that may be putting blocks in the way of stepping into to our most authentic selves. We each have our own quirks that we’ve developed in our life but what I’ve noticed is that the underlying issue is fear. When we can identify our own patterns, we’re already on the way to reversing those patterns that don’t serve our highest good.
  • Change the response. Let’s become truthful with ourselves. Whatever is going on inside of us always reflects in our external environment and situation. Until we take responsibility for our own responses to life’s challenges, we will continue to be tripped up by them. The challenges will always be there but it’s how we respond to life’s challenges that will bring growth, self-reflection and the ability to become resilient among the winds of change.
  • Be Present. Our world today is incredibly full of distractions, from our emails, to texts, to social media, to TV and advertisements. We’re constantly encouraged to go-go-go, produce, and work. We often miss life itself with all of the media to consume. When we’re not present with our own emotions or with other people, it inhibits us from harvesting natural wisdom that comes from observation and presence. Presence is one of the greatest gifts that we can give to our relationships and ourselves.
  • Commit. We will never move forward on any goals or aspirations unless we decide on at least one thing to commit to. Even if we have millions of ideas, or none at all, sticking with a life practice will not only immediately allow us to get out of our own way but it will also give us the self-confidence to continue committing to other aspirations.
  • Be Fearless. This may sound scary. That’s the point. One of my favorite quotes is “If your dream doesn’t scare you, it’s not big enough.” Being fearless opens up gigantic doors of opportunity for our dreams to come true. We all have fear but we can choose to either say “hello, thank you, and see you later” or to allow it to crumble us. I believe that fear is one of the ultimate lessons in life to conquer AND one of the most rewarding.
  • Stick with values. Ask yourself: Do my decisions reflect what’s truly important to me? What IS truly important to me? How can I take small steps to align my daily life with what’s meaningful to me?
  • Be reborn with the sun. As the sun sets each evening, the day dies and as the sun rises each morning the day is born. We can consciously choose to apply this idea to ourselves. Every morning can be a new opportunity to try again towards the goals you have for yourself. We must not get discouraged by the past but allow the past to die and choose in this moment to be born again. With this, we have the opportunity to get out of our own way every single sunrise!

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