Growing Your Own Food as a Revolutionary Practice

Food For The Rest of Us: Virtual Film Screening and Panel Discussion – Event Recap

Last week, the Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks and Fresh Roots hosted a virtual screening of the documentary Food For The Rest of Us and an online panel discussion focused on decolonizing our food systems.

Through the example of four individuals, the film demonstrated how growing one’s own food can be a truly revolutionary act, that builds resilience, empowers community,  and has a potential to resist systems of oppression and address climate change:

  • An Indigenous-owned, youth-run organic farm in Hawaii who not only teaches young leaders valuable gardening skills, but also provides connection to ancestors through the land and serves as a path to spirituality
  • A Black urban grower in Kansas City who runs a land farm at East High School is demonstrating to students how by growing food they can take power into their own hands, heal intergenerational trauma rooted in racism and exclusion
  • A female Kosher Butcher in Colorado who is working with the Queer Community sharing a sacred ritual for animal slaughter, practicing accountability  and restoring connection between the land, animals and people
  • An Inuit community on the Arctic Coast who are adapting to climate change and standing up to the corporate food industry by claiming food sovereignty through traditional fishing practices and innovative gardening techniques

Ian Marcuse, VNFN Coordinator shares his reflections: 

“The film is both groundbreaking and refreshing in highlighting the experiences of Black, Indigenous and other racialized food growers and farmers. While many agriculture films have centered white voices (which is not surprising since white farmers represent the majority of the farming community) and focus on the popular “eat local” and “eat organic” food discourse, this narrative erases the diverse food systems and people involved in the systems of food production. By centering non-white food activists and growers who have been historically and brutally impacted by colonial agricultural policies, we are rewarded with a far richer and more complex understanding, which, not surprisingly, represents a far more radical, just and decolonized food movement. Fundamentally, we learn that food growing in this context is a revolutionary practice in which previously colonized and oppressed communities are taking back food access as a political project of cultural empowerment and reclamation of ancestral identity. By restoring connection to and rebuilding relationships with the land and place, we are able to  support wellbeing for the people and the planet”.

“All revolutions are land-based – equitable access to land is crucial to food justice. Give land back!” Maurice (Eric) Person

The engaging panel discussion featuring film participant Maurice (Eric) Person and food justice activists Melissa West Morrison (Ga’axsta’las 琪琪), Senaqwila Wyss and Alisha Lettman, focused on the importance of decolonizing our food system and practical ways each of us can play a role in advancing the vision of decolonized, sustainable, equitable, and innovative system. Watch the full panel discussion here.

To support the movement panelists suggest to: 

  • Grow food or flowers (pollinators need to eat too!): whether in a planter box on your balcony or by getting involved in your local community garden
  • Don’t be afraid to make a mistake – it is a process of trial and error
  • Listen to the plants – they are the best teachers
  • Extend sustainability planning timelines to consider future generations
  • Reflect on your own ancestry
  • Explore your own relationship with food
  • Think critically about where your food comes from
  • Learn Indigenous protocols
  • Share knowledge
  • Start conversations
  • Explore and cultivate your gifts 
  • Foster community
  • Live relationally

Living relationally means “I share my breath and spirit with you” Melissa West Morrison|| Ga’axsta’las || 琪琪 ||