Sunday, May 20, 2012

Hungry For Change

I have to say, I love this sort of thing--this is a student-produced, neighbourhood-generated video on a social issue (of course its food security--do I ever talk about anything else these days?)
Here, students look at the concept of a "food desert", a place where there are no grocery stores. All the while that they were interviewing people, I kept thinking "Hey! There's a vacant lot. Use that." Sure enough, they are also involved with an urban farm with a farmer's market component.
This is also a particularly American video. It takes place in an African-American neighbourhood, and there is a deep undercurrent of issues of race. But at the same time, the solutions are practical and applicable to pretty much any urban area.

Umoja Students from North Lawndale College Prep, Manley, and Ace Technical 
High Schools teamed with Free Spirit Media to discover the facts about the food 
desert in North Lawndale, Chicago.

In the end, you have to question how this situation could have become so dire. Food deserts? How the hell do you not feed people? Why should we have to educate people in what constitutes good food? And a big reason for many of the problems we face, I think, is because we are nations of immigrants that destroyed the indigenous cultures, leaving us with no food culture of our own (and not much other place particular culture either, but that's for a different venue). We don't recognize terrior, we have no real place-specific foods (no equivalent to Parmesan cheese which is made in Parma, from Parman cows, the whey of which is fed to hogs which then become prosciutto). We have no generational attachment to the land in North America, and while many immigrants had an attachment to owning land, a house in the suburbs has fulfilled that desire. There is no equivalent to, say, the attachment to land reform and land ownership you find among the peasants of  South America, or the Northern European peasants from whom I am descended. Land hunger has been diverted into house hunger.
But this video points out another truism; that, given tools, people are ready, willing, and able to make changes in their local environments that contribute to self-determination. In many ways, it boils down to an old punk slogan: DIY or Die. Because culture is made, not consumed.

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