Weekend reading: New York City food activists
This book was especially interesting to me because I know some of the players and reading it told me a lot about their backgrounds and accomplishments. It deals with several New York City-based organizations, among them United Bronx Parents, the Park Slope Food Coop, God’s Love We Deliver, and, most prominently, the Community Food Resource Center.
Lana Dee Povitz. Stirrings: How Activist New Yorkers Ignited a Movement for Food Justice. University of North Carolina Press, 2019.
I wrote a blurb for this one.
Stirrings uses the political history of food advocacy organizations in New York City to explain why such groups focus almost exclusively on feeding hungry people rather than on addressing the root cause of that hunger–poverty. The lessons taught by this history make this book essential reading for anyone interested in ending hunger in America.
And here is a brief paragraph from the Introduction (p. 7):
Aside from its material value as a commodity essential to human life, food acts as a lens through which we can understand dominant social values. How and by whom food is produced, which foods are government-subsidized, who is deemed eligible for food assistance, who becomes the gatekeepers for providing that food—such arrangements speak volumes about who and what is prioritized, especially by those with decision-making power. By extension, the history of food activism is important because it tracks how these priorities might be rearranged, how people can work to challenge or temporarily overturn established hierarchies, especially of class and race. Just as often, the history of food activism sheds light on how inequalities and hierarchies are preserved, defended, and even extended.