Lyons, Neb., resident Steph Larsen gained national attention when several environmental Internet news sites featured her singular movement to identify with the Occupy Wall Street protesters 1,300 miles away: Occupy the Pasture. “I came to the conclusion that if I believed that the current economic system was unjust, then the most rebellious thing that I could do was grow my own food,” Larsen told the Internet blog Living on Earth. “That way, the primary means of my own sustenance would be out of the control of corporations. The message of Occupy the Pasture is do what you can to grow your own food. And what you can’t grow yourself, support the locally owned businesses that can do it for you."
It may strike some that a protest movement of one small, Nebraska sheep herder painting cardboard signs and posting photos to Facebook has little in common with the crowds of disaffected youth marching on the nation’s financial district. But consider these developments:
- The Occupy movement’s long and petulant list of the mass injustices committed by the world's corporate forces includes America's corporate food system, the members of which have “…poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization, [and] …profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals….”
- “It's obvious that this is our moment to drive a very important point home: Upending corporate control of the food supply is a fundamental change that must occur if the ‘99 percent’ are to be healthy participants in a true democracy,” wrote Huffington Post food writer Kristin Wartman, in “The Food Movement Must Occupy Wall Street.” “…when corporations control the food supply we are left with an unsafe and unregulated food supply and a population in the midst of a dire health crisis as a result of corporate carelessness and greed,” she says.
- “What the elites fail to realize is that rebellion will not stop until the corporate state is extinguished,” writes activist author Chris Hedges on the blog Truthdig. “It will not stop until there is an end to the corporate abuse of the poor, the working class, the elderly, the sick, children, those being slaughtered in our imperial wars and tortured in our black sites. It will not stop until foreclosures and bank repossessions stop. It will not stop until students no longer have to go into debt to be educated, and families no longer have to plunge into bankruptcy to pay medical bills. It will not stop until the corporate destruction of the ecosystem stops, and our relationships with each other and the planet are radically reconfigured.” And the most effective means to that end, according to Hedges? "Our most potent political weapon is food," the author of American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, wrote in a post to the same website more than two years ago. "If we take back our agriculture, if we buy and raise produce locally, we can begin to break the grip of corporations that control a food system as fragile, unsafe and destined for collapse as our financial system. If we continue to allow corporations to determine what we eat, as well as how food is harvested and distributed, then we will become captive to rising prices and shortages and increasingly dependent on cheap, mass-produced food'."
Now that you've been officially invited to the revolution, the question is this: How effective will a dialogue on food be if advocates for the system that stretches from for-profit groceries to for-profit farming don’t understand they are being drawn into the wider issues of political economics, critical animal studies, bioethics, gender studies, social justice, sustainability ethics, economic justice and more? Are you prepared?