Perspective: Oran Hesterman on Food Activism

By WorldLink Staff | January 31, 2012 | Leave a Comment

How can citizens go beyond everyday food choices to create a healthier food system for all? Founder of the Fair Food Network Oran Hesterman discusses the importance of engaged citizenship.

Dr. Hesterman’s new book, Fair Food: Growing a Healthy, Sustainable Food System for All, describes our current food system, how it is no longer serving us, and how we can all play our part in changing it for the better.

Discover more perspectives on creating a better food system in Dr. Hesterman’s Fair Food and Anna Lappé’s Be the Difference.

How can we encourage people to think more systemically when it comes to food issues?

Oran Hesterman: With most large systems, such as education and energy, we must rely primarily if not solely on our policy makers and industry leaders to act on our behalf. We can write letters, attend meetings, and try to make our voices heard on local and national levels, but in the long run, there is little that one individual, family, or neighborhood can do to fix the broken system.

With the food system we can have more impact. We can take responsibility for fixing it both through individual decisions and through collective action. As individuals we can make different choices about what we purchase and what we eat. We can choose to support a more local and sustainable agriculture and can decide to eat in a way that keeps us healthier. We can join with other concerned individuals to demand different food at our children’s school cafeteria and at our college food service. We can plant backyard and community gardens. We can shop at farmers markets.

All of these individual actions can and will make a difference in our own lives and in the food system, but they alone will not produce the kind of change we need. We also need our policy makers and industry leaders to work toward a redesigned food system, one that provides safe, healthy, and nutritious food to all our residents in a manner that protects our natural resources for future generations. As is the case with healthcare, energy, and the environment, if we’re going to solve the food problem we need to look at bigger, systems-level solutions.


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