Food Year In Review: Wall Street, You Suck!
Every year Project Censored rounds up the annual most horrible stories you don't know about. They are after all, umm, "censored." Regardless, I dutifully read them like a looky-loo at a crash scene on the 101. So while Time Magazine has declared 2011 as the "year of the protester," what gets lost in that hoopla are the origins of the protest. And those origins point back to what is, or what is not, on our collective plates. 'Yes Arab Spring, I got the coffee table book," you might say from your west side garden, but it all started with food.
Tavis Smiley has stated on his syndicated radio program, Smiley and West, "Globalization has privatized the world food supply so that Wall St. sets the price for wheat in developing countries." Yowsers. Mohamed Bouazizi was a humble produce vendor. That's Michelle Obamaville, people. His radical act of self-immolation happened after his wheelbarrow of produce was hijacked by the Tunisian authorities. He was just trying to get by... and couldn't. Inflated food prices and a hungry rabble made it easy for thousands to be on the street in Tahrir Square. Yeah, make it impossible for folks to get by and they might notice.
Here in the US our food system has likewise been hijacked. Pizza is now a vegetable according to Congress and the frozen food lobby. Scholars and activists like Marion Nestle and Michael Pollan are hungry for a better way of "getting by" and maybe even getting themselves and the planet healthy are here to stay. And not content to be silenced or censored Food Democracy Now! has organized both farmers and occupiers to march and dialogue on food. So Wall St. brokers may be keeping French Laundry comfortably in business, the food system they actually create actually sucks.
While the manipulation of the commodity market (um, that's our food) by Wall St. may not be as palpable or iconic as Tunisian police grabbing a street vendors sole means of support, a wheelbarrow full of eggplant, it's a parallel. 2012 brings the Farm Bill back to the national agenda. It is the single most important legislation affecting U.S. food policy. And as long as Wall St. and its subsidiary Big Food continues to dominate the decisions in Washington, there will much to protest and occupy.
Whose Food? Our Food!