Inaction? Intransigence? Negligence? Whatever the right word, we’re reminded that the U.S. is behind the curve when it comes to protecting bees. Yesterday, Europe’s restrictions on bee-harming pesticides went into effect. Today, in a full-page advertisement in the New York Times and six other major papers, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) and over 60 other food, farm, faith, and investor groups called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action to protect bees.
Today, as we dig into our Thanksgiving leftovers–for us, that’s pumpkin pudding and my mother-in-laws famous nutloaf–we’ll be thinking about the Walmart workers around the country who are bravely stepping away from their jobs to bring attention to the paltry pay and poor working conditions by the country’s largest private employer.
I’m writing this as my parents and my in-laws are about to descend upon our tiny household for Thanksgiving. This is the first year we are hosting and my husband’s parents decided to make the trek from upstate New York for the occasion and to bond with our 15-month-old daughter before she becomes a teenager.
“Please donate food items here so Associates in Need can enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner.”
That’s the text of a sign hanging over a bin at a Walmart in Canton, Ohio. A photo of the food drive surfaced earlier this month, sparking new attention to the connection between hunger and working conditions in America.
The growth and influence of the food movement are undeniable. Take, for example, the proliferation of farmers’ markets and community supported agriculture, or the 4,500 events that took place across all 50 states on this year’s Food Day. These are just some of the testaments to the power of everyday eaters expressing their food beliefs. The list of qualifiers we now eagerly attach to our meals has exploded—we want food that’s local, organic, sustainable, fair trade, healthy, vegan, macrobiotic. Yet, with all of the craze around food and its various product labels, something seems amiss.
It’s not news that school gardens greatly benefit children. Kids involved in a school garden program have more positive attitudes toward fruits and vegetables, higher self-esteem, an improved ability to learn, and on and on. It’s also not news that edible school gardens that circle their food back to the cafeteria increase the likelihood of children eating fruits and vegetables and create food security in our urban and suburban areas.
This week, from November 24-30, is the second annual International Food Workers Week (IFWW), organized by the Food Chain Workers Alliance. Organized around Thanksgiving, our goal is to lift up the workers in our food system–from farmworkers to those who work in meat, poultry, and food processing and in the distribution, retail, and service industries. With 20 million food workers in the U.S., and millions more around the world, our economy and our daily sustenance depends on these people.
One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is all the sides. I’m already looking forward to sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, and more. But one thing Americans aren’t looking forward to this Thanksgiving is getting their turkey with a side of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Unfortunately, practices in the conventional poultry industry are putting consumers at risk.