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.

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7 DIY Herbal Medicines for Campers (with Recipes!)

We are avid hikers, adventurous campers, and proud outdoorsy folk. We yearn for the connection with nature and the elements. The outdoors are a second home to us, so why would we want to trash this sacred space with toxic runoff and chemicals. Unfortunately, so many of the products we use to help us take on the elements have unforeseen consequences that extend past the damage done to our own bodies: things like BHT preservatives and mineral oil (a byproduct of petroleum oil) commonly found in sunscreen or bug spray can leach into fresh waters we bathe in and then into runoff systems.

We can connect deeper with our natural environments when we use plants as medicine. We can harness their anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and therapeutic properties to help protect and heal our bodies and minds, while also protecting our environment. Here are a few of my favorite plant remedies that are especially useful for outdoor excursions.

1. Comfrey Salve

7 DIY Herbal Medicines for Campers (with Recipes!)

A great salve for all skin afflictions, be it a wound, bite, scratch or rash, comfrey-based salves are wonderful to have with you on your outings. An antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory, comfrey is a tough, leafy green that grows in abundance in North America. It is high in Calcium, Protein, Vitamin C, and Allantoin—which makes it great at healing tissue and bone when taken internally as a tea or tincture. Externally, you will feel quick relief using this salve on your camping battle wound.

Create your own salve by infusing dried comfrey into organic olive oil in a glass jar. Let that infusion sit in the sun for 2-4 weeks, making sure to gently shake it every day. You will come to love the daily ritual of connecting to your infusion. Once the properties of the plant have infused into the oil, you can begin to work with it. Heat up bees wax and shea butter in a double boiler and add the infused oil as well as any other nourishing oils and butters too. I like to add Vitamin E, Calendula Oil and Almond Oil. Pour the liquid into a glass or metal jar and let it cool before you enjoy it.

Add a dash of baking soda and bentonite clay for their itch neutralizing and detoxifying properties. Now your salve can help you deal with itchy bug bites and burning poison ivy rashes.

2. Essential Oil Insect Repellent

7 DIY Herbal Medicines for Campers (with Recipes!)
There are numerous natural alternatives to insect repellents that contain harmful toxins like DEET, which are terrible for our nervous system and the environment. Essential oils like citronella, eucalyptus, lemongrass, tea tree, lavender, and rosemary help deter mosquitoes and other pests. Rose germanium is also known as a particularly potent tick repellant. It is super simple to make these your own affordable and potent repellent.
To make your own insect and tick repellent, simply mix 5-10 drops of citronella, rose germanium and any other essential oils you enjoy into a spray bottle of distilled water. Add some rose water or Vitamin E into the mixture for a skin moisturizing boost!

3. Skin Healing Sunscreen

While it’s important to catch some rays to convert into Vitamin D, which is crucial for optimal health, we also want to protect our skin from excessive UV by using a low SPR sunscreen. But at what cost? So many products sold in stores essentially burn chemicals into our skins. Avoid those toxins by making your own, low-cost sunscreen. The main ingredient here is non-nano zinc, which protects the skin very well from UV rays without all the extra chemicals. You can find non-nano zinc online or at a local health store and add it into your favorite lotion, coconut oil, or make your own sunscreen lotion.
To make the lotion, start a double boiler with any sort of oil or butter (I prefer Shea or Jojoba). Add in a smaller portion of coconut oil or almond oil. Add the non-nano zinc, vitamin E oil, and for an extra SPF some red raspberry seed oil or carrot seed oil. Mix well and pour into smaller containers. Let the concoction solidify as you make plans to conquer the outside world toxin free!

4. Arnica Salve

This is an excellent salve for muscle pains, bruises and sprains. Run some on your sore muscles at the end of the long hike for relief. If you include some cayenne pepper into the salve, it will give you a hot sensation—great for cold nights or more potent relief!
To make this salve, follow the instructions for the comfrey salve above. Use your arnica infused oil and add the cayenne into the blend.

Warning: arnica is only to be used externally—do not use on an open wound.

5. Meadowsweet Tincture

This wonderful plant has therapeutic properties that relieve headache, indigestion, heartburn, and inflammation pain. It is like aspirin without the nasty side effects. Simply grab this off the shelf of your local health food store.

6. Jewelweed

Jewelweed is a wonderful plant for poison ivy relief and luckily it usually grows near poison ivy. If you find it, you could create a poultice by chewing it up and place it on the infected area. Similarly, plantain leaf is a commonly found plant that serves as a natural antimicrobial band-aid.

7. Activated Charcoal Tablets

These are great to have in your kit because they help in the unfortunate circumstance of food poisoning, diarrhea, and parasites. The activated charcoal absorbs the toxins in the system and allows you to excrete them out. Drink a lot of water throughout the day to help the detoxifying process along.

Bonus: Healing Teas

7 DIY Herbal Medicines for Campers (with Recipes!)

Some great teas to have with you are Chamomile, Peppermint and Echinacea. Each serves a different and functional purpose on your adventure. Chamomile will help you relax and find some deep sleep after a long day, not that you need any help falling asleep after that last hike! It can also double as a poultice for rashes, burns and bug bites. Peppermint is a great herbal tea to settle the stomach or relief constipation. Echinacea is an incredibly supportive herb for its immune boosting properties. Drinking this tea consistently will help ward away any colds or infection. This is a wonderful tincture to have on hand as well.

You can get most of these recipes at any local health foodstore, but my go-to for bulk herb purchases is

If you’re curious about medicinal and native plants, sustainable farming, community living and camping you can join a 12-day bus-trip with 30 other change-makers, camping at the top sustainable living centers in Southern California! Here is your opportunity to be guided through a life changing experience taking classes at ecovillages and permaculture farms from instructors who live what they teach.

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