Food Justice has been a passion of mine for quite some time. Many people I meet think of starving people in Africa if you ask them about hunger. That is not always the case. There are hungry people in America. A fair few of them are FAT! It is hard to look at someone who is pushing the limits of plus size and imagine them as a hungry person. However, these people are eating what they can to quiet the rumblings in their ballooning bellies. Crappy high calorie foods are less expensive and more available than nutrient dense foods. Many low income areas of cities don't have grocery stores within walking distance which makes access to nutritious food even more difficult.
I was at one time obese. I wasn't poor, I just loved sugar. I had my epiphany, lost weight and in my arrogance thought I could save people by becoming a Dietitian. My first time shadowing an RD, a single mother of two came in. The RD asked about the children's diet. I could tell the mom was uncomfortable. At the end of the consultation, the dietitian recommended to the mother to add more fresh fruits and veggies to their diet. The mom visibly paled. It was then she looked straight into the eyes of the dietitian for the first time. "Where," she said, "am I going to get them? Are you going to come babysit and let me use your checkbook?"
Just telling people to eat good things isn't going to make it happen. It isn't that easy. There is a way, though.
When I was working as an intern on an organic farm last summer, I had the opportunity to see just how much food is "not marketable" and would end up in the compost pile. This was not bad food. It just didn't have "symmetry" or "even color." All I could think of was how picky the American consumer is if they wouldn't eat this wonderful food! I had already been working at the garden at the church, but this had the potential for something bigger. What if instead of compost it became dinner?
Turns out that there were people were already working to this end in town. In fact, a good share of what these gleaners were distributing was coming though my church! This group, Faith Feeds, would go the farmer's markets in town and collect from some awesomely generous farmers. Instead of taking the food home, these farmers gave what they had left. I have some serious respect for that! Also, an orchard here in town, allowed gleaners from Faith Feeds to go and glean fruit every week.
To me the journey of homesteading is more about building community than providing enough for your family so you call wall yourself off. We're all in this together. You know all that squash you have to give away at the height of the season? See if there is a feeding program in your area that is willing to take it.
Plant a row of something extra for others. If you have a small area and can't grow for more than yourself, what about buying extra pears (they are easier for those with missing teeth) at the farmer's market to donate to a shelter?