Our relationship to the environment is a reflection of our relationship to societyLoren Cardeli
On my commute to work I have started listening to podcasts to pass the time and to add some spice into my daily routine. My most recent listen was an episode from the Green Dreamer Podcast (my new favorite) titled “Loren Cardeli: Dismantling injustices in the food system and building farmer autonomy.”
While I thought that I would be listening to a podcast about eco-activism, I quickly realized that I would have my entire belief system challenged.
When we think about eco-activism and food production, what most immediately comes to mind?
The conversation surrounding environmental activism and combatting food waste usually tosses around issues such as food production, the use of pesticides, and farmer education to help grow successful crops in an ever changing climate. ,
Although all of those points are legitimate, they fail to acknowledge the biggest issue in our global system of food production – the injustice and oppression of those who produce our global food supply. Environmental justice needs to be less about the plants, and more about the people who grow them.
An Unpopular Opinion
Loren Cardeli, sites his own experiences in challenging how we are actually approaching the topic of environmental justice.
During his time in Belize, Loren was first exposed to an indigenous and native approach to farming, but also witnessed the destructive and dehumanizing effects of industrial agriculture. Through a deeply rooted and worldwide history of colonialism, there exists a system of agriculture that is designed to benefit those who are wealthy or are privileged.
Data shows that hunger is often not the result of a lack of food, but instead a capitalist hoarding of food that forces communities to starve to death, while growing ample food to feed others around the world; ample food that we often throw away because we are unable to consume it all.
What Is Environmental Justice?
The United States Environmental Protection Agency states that “Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” and that “This goal will be achieved when everyone enjoys: 1) The same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, and 2) Equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.
In Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ he articulates that “Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”
Grassroots non-profits such as the Interreligious Task Force “envisions a world where local communities (particularly indigenous and Afro-descendant) are able to assert their right to communal lands and self-determination, especially when outsiders try to impose infrastructure or development projects. Communities are able to define the kind of development they want: economically and environmentally sustainable while maintaining cultural integrity. Their autonomy is respected by governments and corporations. The modern economic view of natural resources as something to be exploited for the sake of development or profit has been replaced with an ethic of people over profit.”
Environmental Justice is more than protecting the integrity and sustainability of plants and animals – it is demanding the inherent dignity and rights of people who are being discarded.
Where Do We Go From Here?
I first want to acknowledge that, depending on your experience, you may be feeling a variety of things right now. You might feel angered. You may be feeling uncomfortable.
Whatever your response at this moment, sit with it, and acknowledge why you feel this way.
As you move forward, here are 3 action steps that you can take today:
- Listen to the full podcast episode and learn more about Loren’s nonprofit. Education is an important and valid first step.
- Donate to A Growing Culture to help support this mission
- Share this post: on Facebook, Instagram, in a text to friends. Keep the conversation going and help raise awareness