Underscoring how the struggles for racial, environmental, and economic justice are deeply intertwined, this year’s Food Sovereignty Prize, honoring those who are taking back their food systems, will be bestowed Wednesday to the Georgia-based Federation of Southern Cooperatives and the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras.
“On the heels of a visible resurgence of the struggle for black liberation made visible by a spate of police brutality against Black Americans, the two winners this year demonstrate a commitment to solidarity with Black people’s struggles globally,” wrote Alison Meares Cohen of the global hunger and poverty non-profit WhyHunger.
“Everything we’re about is food sovereignty, the right of every individual on earth to wholesome food, clean water, clean air, clean land, and the self-determination of a local community to grow and do what they want. We just recognize the natural flow of life. It’s what we’ve always done.”
Click Here: All Blacks Rugby Jersey—Ben Burkett, Federation of Southern Cooperatives
Both of the 2015 honorees “have struggled for decades against oppression from their governments and large agricultural companies,” said WhyHunger co-founder Bill Ayres in an op-ed last week. “They have pioneered excellent agricultural practices, fought for their rights, and produced nutritious food for people.”
And in doing so, he concluded, they have shown that “[t]here is another way to fight hunger. It is not through the latest tech solution or the latest chemical toxic concoction, but it does utilize science rooted in ecological principles, community participation, and democratic management.”
The Federation of Southern Cooperatives, whose members are farmers in 16 Southern states—approximately 90 percent of them African-American, but also Native American, Latino, and White—grew out of the civil rights movement in the late 1960s. But its work “is today more important than ever,” the prize committee writes, given that African-American-owned farms in the U.S. have fallen from 14 percent to 1 percent in less than 100 years.
To counter that trend, and to keep farms Black- and family-owned instead of corporate-owned, the Federation promotes land-based cooperatives and community development credit unions; provides training in sustainable agriculture and forestry, management, and marketing; and advocates to the courts as well as to state and national legislatures.
“Our view is local production for local consumption,” said Ben Burkett, co-founder of the Federation and a fourth-generation Mississippi farmer. “It’s just supporting mankind as family farmers. Everything we’re about is food sovereignty, the right of every individual on earth to wholesome food, clean water, clean air, clean land, and the self-determination of a local community to grow and do what they want. We just recognize the natural flow of life. It’s what we’ve always done.”
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