Over the summer, Tahz and I were blessed with the opportunity to sit down and talk with a range of leaders working in our regional food system. These interviews have helped us prepare for an exciting new series of food justice workshops at The Stone House this winter. It’s been wonderful to engage in such a patient and intentional process, drawing on the vast wisdom of our community and exploring what we, as stone circles, can offer in the service of growing a commitment to justice in our food system.
We began each of these conversations by sharing experiences that have shaped our relationships to food, agriculture, and land. I noticed as my response changed each week, growing and deepening as I reflected on my family and personal history. We then turned the question to our interviewees, inquiring how their own story shapes their work.
As intimately related as all
of us are to the food we eat, many of us struggle to uncover these powerful connections. My European-American grandparents and many others of their generation turned away from agricultural backgrounds in favor of the comfort and status of a middle-class, suburban lifestyle. One woman we spoke to shared her poignant experience of discovering as an adult that her family farmed in Palestine. She expressed her deep sorrow at losing this relationship to land, one she is beginning to rebuild as she ventures into the garden that friends installed in her urban front yard.
The primarily white members of the rural community where I grew up mourn this loss, and have sought to return to a sustainable relationship with the land. While working on several small organic farms and at farmers markets as a young adult, I’ve gradually awakened to the boundaries of this community, defined by complex dynamics of race, class, and culture. As I claim and examine the many forms of privilege that have provided me (and denied others) access to fresh and sustainable food, I am beginning to explore my role in building a more just and equitable food system.
Our interviews have taught me the power of returning to my own story with new eyes, unclouded by shame or fear. What transformation might happen if we honored all our layered stories as valuable—even expert—knowledge? Perhaps we will discover that we already hold the keys to understanding both the current challenges and future possibilities of our relationship to food.