Just Food Welcomes 2015 Conference Keynote Eric Holt-Giménez of Food First

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Food First, the pioneering “people’s think tank,” is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion, Executive Director Eric Holt-Giménez will be launching a nationwide tour. His first stop on the East Coast will be to make the Keynote Speech at the 2015 Just Food Conference on March 15th.

Just Food is excited to have Eric share his perspective on the question of why equity matters and how it helps us build a more just and sustainable food system. Eric has demonstrated a deep commitment to placing equity and social justice issues at the forefront of the food movement, and we're honored to have him speak about these issues at the conference.

“Dismantling racism isn't extra work for transforming the food system, it is the work,” says Holt-Giménez on the importance of food movement activists addressing equity and structural racism.

Just Food’s annual conference brings together over 700 community organizers, local food advocates, CSA members, students, and food professionals. Eric’s keynote address will be a highlight, along with other plenary sessions focusing on equity, food justice, and advocacy at the Conference. "Campaign Action" lunch sessions will focus on current campaigns around food policy, such as GMO labeling and the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act. These sessions will give attendees a chance to learn how they can create change in the food system by connecting to specific campaigns.

The 2015 Just Food Conference will give attendees the opportunity to discover some of the amazing work being done in the food movement in NYC and learn how they can get involved. For tickets and more information, visit justfoodconference.org.

Q&A with Eric Holt-Giménez, Executive Director of Food First / Institute for Food and Development Policy

What do you hope attendees will take away from your keynote address at the Just Food Conference?
The food system is not "broken." It is working precisely as a food system in a period of late capitalism is supposed to work: it concentrates power and wealth in the hands of oligopolies and passes off the social and environmental costs of its destructive model on to citizens. Just like the climate crisis, we can't rely on our politicians or industry to solve the food crisis--they are not looking out for our interests. I hope that people are encouraged to build a powerful social movement to transform this inequitable and unsustainable food system.

40 years after the founding of Food First, what has changed? What do we still need to accomplish?

Sadly, despite the fact that there was and is 1.5 times more than enough food to feed everyone on the planet, hunger and malnutrition are as bad and worse than they were 40 years ago. The good news is that more and more people are realizing that hunger is not caused by scarcity but by injustice, a message that Food First has advanced for 40 years. We have a growing food justice movement today that is advancing many sound alternatives. For these alternatives to become the norm, the movement needs to take political action.

Why is it important for food movement activists to address equity and structural racism issues?

Underserved communities of color in the US and poor farmers in the Third World are the most negatively affected by the corporate food regime, our current food system. Their leadership is key to transformation because they have the most experience surviving the regime and their stake is the highest for changing it. To build strong, broad-based alliances and support new leadership we need to overcome the issues and obstacles that divide us like racism, sexism and classism. That means dismantling these oppressive structures in our food system and addressing the issues of white privilege and internalized oppression in our own food movement. Dismantling racism isn't extra work for transforming the food system; it is the work.