Food & Freedom Rides Rally Young Leaders for Real Food - L I V E   R E A L
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

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.
8/9/2011 11:53:40 pm

In learning from the past, listen especially for perspectives from the family farm movement, (ie. National Family Farm Coalition,) which has been the key (and longest) farm justice movement in the US. It's your best source for bridging the gap between the food movement and farmers in general.

At present there are major misunderstandings of farm/food justice, and I see one here. It's on the question of farm subsidies. Subsidies are a side issue, and they really represent a masterpiece of corporate propaganda, where well meaning and "informed" food advocates end up blaming the victims (farmers) rather than the exploiters (the unnamed mega buyers of) the agribusiness output complex. The corporate buyers don't benefit from subsidies (as subsidies don't really lower farm prices in any practically significant way, as I prove 4 ways in "Michael Pollan Rebuttal" [& I share Pollan's values]), but from the drastically reduced (ie. below full costs 1981-2006) prices themselves. The economic cause is the lack of price responsiveness on both supply and demand sides. (We don't eat 4, 5, 6 meals just because wheat, rice and corn are way cheap, nor do individual farmers plant only part of their farms.) The policy cause is not the presence of subsidies, but rather the absence of price floors (& ceilings) and supply management. If you miss this and think it's subsidies, then you advocate with agribusiness and on the opposite side from your claims. I document all of this (click my name). But also read how African American farmers agree with me. Read how they need subsidies (IF we keep these horrible farm bills with no price floors,) but really want and need price floors and ceilings and supply management, in NFFC's Food from Family Farms Act. Find key links through my name to a cotton policy study of the Federation of Southern Land Cooperatives (the leading African American farm justice organization in the US) and their PR on that study. See "FSLC-LAF Price Floors Not Subsidy "Scapegoat"" and under "More Depth" see "FSLC-LAF African Amer. Cotton Study".

The food movement mostly has never heard of this part of the issue. Hopefully, by getting out and talking to farmers you can come to help fix the food movement on this failure to understand farm and food justice, as understood by African American cotton etc. farmers and midwestern family farmers like me.

I've also commented on Hải Võ's blog at Civil Eats related to this and re. contacting FSLC-LAF in Mississippi. I welcome dialogue, (paradigm change doesn't come easy for any of us!) and hope to meet you all in Iowa.


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