Category Archives: Food security

Welcome to Land, Labour, & Liberation!

By Bengo

“The complexity of this whole world syndrome can be overwhelming, and yet to evade the complexity by taking the system apart to treat the problems one at a time can produce disasters. The great failings of scientific technology have come from posing problems in too small a way.  Problems have to be solved in their rich complexity” [i]

There is nothing that connects public health with ecology and social justice as much as the fact that we are but one hungry species among millions of others.  The basic need to fill our bellies is at the heart of human organization, especially the control of land and labour.

As societies have become more complex and globally intertwined, the production of food is more and more distanced from those who control the means of its production.  Changing ownership structures have long brought the consolidation of land and labour, seeds and breeds, fertilizer and pest control, into fewer and fewer hands.  This industrialization and commodification of food systems has had serious and far-reaching consequences, drastically affecting the determining conditions for people everywhere to lead healthy lives.

Land, Labour, and Liberation will examine stories from the struggle to bring control of the global food system back into the hands of the people.  The questions we must ask cut across divides of discipline, taking as their basis a shared project of liberation from systems of oppression and structural violence.  The rich complexity of these struggles include political, economic, historical, cultural, and epidemiological stories, and my focus will be on the way networks of power manifest themselves in the bodies of those most vulnerable and affected.

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Digging In: Food Security as a Pillar of Radical Public Health

by Mackenzie Berg

Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it. – Alan Perliss

The other day, I was sitting in a café looking out to a soggy view of the Puget Sound and feeling rather morose about the State of Things in the World. I posted a lamenting status update to Facebook that was more rhetorical than answer-seeking: “How can we dismantle systems of structural violence when they seem to be reinforced at every turn by our political and economic systems?”

The answers I received were a mix of (appreciated) cynical snark balanced with rallying statements of support for what I think of as radical, yet pragmatic, grassroots-level change.  These statements are ones which I begrudgingly had to agree with because they made my own solution – fleeing to a shack in the desert – seem less heroic.

Food security and nutrition security are two key arenas of public health that I think about frequently in relation to structural violence and radical change. More specifically, I think about how we cannot afford to be simplistic or reductionist in understanding and engaging with our food systems, because in avoiding their complexity we avoid the means to legitimately, holistically improve them.

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