Written by Hnin Hnin, Youth Programs Coordinator at Slow Food USA

It’s not your ordinary summer road trip. 13 young leaders. 8 states. 2000 miles.  A journey to expose the injustices in the food system “from the ‘hood to the heartland”.
Tipping their hats to the Freedom Rides of the Civil Rights Movement, a group of inspired young leaders who call themselves theFood & Freedom Riders will carry forward the struggle for justice. Their task is to uncover the stories of farmers, workers, and communities who are working to change the food system that denies them justice. Their goal is to weave together a movement of people from diverse backgrounds—to learn from the past and find the food movement’s own place in history.

According to Navina Khanna from Live Real, the organization behind the wheels, the Food & Freedom Rides are taking place at an important moment in time:

Right now, over 50 million Americans face food hardship, and today’s youth are the first generation with a shorter life expectancy than their parents—because of the food they eat.  We want to show that real food is a real solution—for economic revitalization, personal and public health, and the environment.

The Rides are timely for another reason: the 2012 renewal of the omnibus $300 billion Food and Farm Bill. Crucially, this legislation:
Influencing change in the Food and Farm Bill to support real food and real people will be a worthwhile harvest for the food movement and the Riders are out to plant the seeds of that change.

In the lead up to the Food & Farm Bill debates on Capitol Hill, the road trippers will be engaging youth and communities in creating a Food & Farm Bill platform, developing curriculum to share with educators, and documenting their travels on film.

They’re revved up and ready to go. The first ride, from August 7-18, will begin at Birmingham, Alabama—a turning point of the historical 1961 Freedom Rides. It will end in Detroit, Michigan—a beacon for the future of America’s food: . The second ride, from August 26-September 2, will travel through California, the nation’s salad bowl. You can follow the Riders on twitter @liverealnoworg or on their daily blog by sending an email to info@liverealnow.org.

For the 13 young leaders, Live Real, and the movement for food justice, it’s a road trip to be remembered.

Cross-posted at Slow Food USA’s blog.