The Food Movement: What Does It Mean to YOU?

By WorldLink Staff | March 18, 2014 | 12 Comments

Food Movement

Every day, more and more of us come together around food, building a community to ensure that it is sustainable, safe, fair, healthy, and delicious for everyone. In compiling our collection of Nourish Perspectives, we’ve had the opportunity to ask a number of individuals the thought-provoking question: “What does the food movement mean to you?” Included below are some of our favorite responses, which illustrate the rich diversity of narrative threads that run through the story of our food.

Because our individual relationships with food are so personal, so too are our connections with the evolving food community. Each of us has his or her own unique story to tell about the changing food landscape and its broader significance. So we decided to ask you the same question we’ve posed to so many others:

PrizesWhat does the food movement mean to you?

We invite you to give the question some thought and, when you’re ready, to submit your own perspective in the comments below. In April, we’ll put the names of everyone who participates in a hat and pick a few lucky names. Prizes will include a Nourish Teacher Resource Binder and Nourish DVDs, which will be tucked into a Food Day tote bag along with copies of books by your favorite Nourish voices, such as:

So let’s hear it. As the examples below illustrate, there’s no right or wrong answer, no one-size-fits-all response. Every person has his or her own take. What’s yours?

“The food movement is already full steam ahead with heroes and heroines, rich stories, innovative practices, policy agendas, organizations galore. Call the goal real or just or healthy or whole or natural or organic or local food, it’s on many people’s radar. Parents want good food for their children. People are concerned about the health effects of manufactured foods. More people are aware of food injustice–food deserts with no nearby real food, and modern day farm-worker exploitation. Academics and activists and advocates, businesspeople and financiers, farmers and ranchers and foragers, educators and parents and chefs are part of it. In fact, all eaters are part of this tide, this migration to a more nourishing and meaningful way of eating for our bodies and communities and kids’ futures.”

Vicki Robin, Author

“The food movement acknowledges that food–like water and shelter and not much else——is fundamental. It challenges us to treat that fundamental thing, the food we eat, with respect. It asks that we nourish our bodies with food that is grown in an environmentally sustainable way; in a socially just way; in a way that builds culture and community; in a way that’s affordable and accessible to all. And it holds out a huge and hopeful possibility: that if we can solve all these challenges in the world of food, then we’ll know that we can solve them anywhere.”

Curt Ellis, Executive Director, Food Corps

“It’s a spark of hope. There are more people–particularly young people–organizing around food justice than ever before. Their grand vision is backed up by action. I’m inspired to be part of a movement that’s fighting not just to end hunger, but to kick-start democracy.”

Raj Patel, Author and Activist

“The food movement is about taking back control of where our food comes from and celebrating the power to feed ourselves and our community good food. A handful of companies are responsible for most of the food we eat. It should not be this way. We should control the food we eat. Over 300 farmers are leaving their land every week because they aren’t making ends meet. Our environment is screwed up, and industrial food production is a major cause. We are too distant to understand where our food comes from, how it is grown, and how to cook it. Food is a basic human need. In order to function and thrive, we need to eat well and feed each other well. We can’t do it unless we recognize and understand what good food is.”

Sam Mogannam, Owner, Bi-Rite Market

“In 1988, it would have been nearly impossible to find a political analyst predicting the fall of the Berlin Wall. Yet, a point occurred in 1989 when enough activists had been at work with their tools that the political infrastructure and the foundation of the wall were sufficiently weakened, and the wall came tumbling down. In the same way, we have had food systems activists chipping away at the current broken food system for many years. Countless farmers, gardeners, leaders, students, teachers, writers, politicians, businesspeople, academics, and moms and dads, with the equivalent of chisels and hammers in their hands, have been challenging the current food system brick by brick. Every time someone decides to get their food at a farmers market, establishes a small-scale organic farm, or develops a new sustainable supply chain for their company, they are attempting to change the current system, one step at a time.”

Oran Hesterman, President, Fair Food Network

“The food movement is at a crossroads, and each of us is in charge of the direction it takes. I am fighting to take the food movement towards a system that is conscious and respectful of the health of the environment, the quality of the food, the safety of our growers, and the future of consumers, especially our kids. This means to me a food system based on triple bottom line of healthy kids, healthy food, and healthy earth.”

Ann Cooper, Chef and Author

“The food movement is about creating systems that are designed for sustainability. Nourishing our kids can go hand in hand with stewardship of the earth and a fair living for those who grow our food and provide our meals, inside or outside of school. Educating our children about food as a holistic system teaches them that each part of that system affects the others. A school food environment focused on sustainability provides students with an opportunity to learn and help create solutions to the many challenges faced by our hungry planet.”

Amy Kalafa, Filmmaker and Author

“The food movement is about quality of life. What we eat affects how we feel physically and emotionally. How food is grown and processed has an impact on the health of those who eat it. How our food is produced affects the environment, the existence of wildlife, and the size and characteristics of our country’s farms. It also impacts the local and global economies.
How we eat affects our ability to interact with others and provide for ourselves, and it influences relationships with friend and families. Eating and preparing food with those we care about provides a much different experience than driving through a fast-food restaurant or eating in one’s car. How we spend our food dollars determines the kind of food system we create, and the health of our farms, families, and communities. As Wendell Berry said, ‘Eating is an agricultural act.’ With the present focus on local food systems, now is the time to vote with our forks, as well as our ballots, and make positive changes in the food system.”

Marion Kalb, Co-founder, National Farm to School Network

“Few citizens know where their water comes from or where it goes when they flush the toilet. Few can name the watershed they live in. Few can name five native resident, non-human species. Few can point north or tell you the phase of the moon. The food movement is the best way to bridge this nature-deficit disorder as it connects, in a very obvious way, the land and waters to one’s health and economy. Farmers markets, especially, turn food into stories and conversation, an aspect of human life that is hundreds of thousands of years old. It is an inexhaustible journey.
Thinking about chile in New Mexico, for instance, one winds up in Ethiopia, Mexico, China, and Peru; in biotech and cultural arguments; in food colorant industries and the beauty of ristras; in local cafes, NAFTA, and the USDA. A passion for food or a particular food may not make it any easier to improve local living or our society, but it is definitely a delicious way to taste certain old truths about the worth of soil and rain, harvesting, cultivating, and cooking that cannot be found in any other way.”

Peter Warshall, Co-Director, Dreaming New Mexico

“To me, the food movement is about mindfulness. Like so many other routines in our daily lives, we eat without thinking. That leads not only to the myriad diet-related health problems plaguing our population, but it robs us of experiencing the appreciation and awe for the miracle of food on our plates. From the science of turning a seed into an edible plant, to the historical knowledge about what’s safe to eat and what’s poison, to animal husbandry and fishing, to the people who do the planting, harvesting, processing, packaging, trucking, sous-chefing, and cooking–rich story and real people and places are present in every spoonful of what we eat. ”

Cheryl Dahle, Executive Director, Future of Fish



  1. WorldLink Staff03.25.14

    Thanks for your thoughtful and eloquently worded reply, Lela. Big-picture thinking is a key part of moving the conversation about food and sustainability forward.

    Who else is ready to share?
  2. alex stenner03.26.14

    The foodmovent is in swing, but delicately so. Much is at stake as those seeking to make sustainable, healthy, and just food systems have their shoulders to the plow and minds forecasting the future. The opportunity to reshape culture, economics, the environment, and policy is at hand. With such opportunity we find the risk. We must not fail to have each area at the table with equal say. Doing so will doom all progress to regression until balance is found between all needs and interests, win-win for all or no deal, you could say.
    But there is a chance we can get it right... With patience and communication, our odds are better. Open communication and not assuming a me vrs you (or us v them) position. To put it simply: the foodmovement is happening, and the beginning is exciting, but let us learn how to succeed by not repeating the failures which have left food systems in such rough condition-let us not leave any other area of societies twisted and forced forward. For once, lets make collective thinking not only happen, but sustain - this is the challenge that we cannot fail to meet. Regardless of any state of fairs let not our ability to openly collaborate and understand fail - then and only then will the sustainable, healthy, and just food system we wish to have will come to fruition.
  3. Angela DNATLFood — 03.26.14

    The food movement, to me, is about creating good food, good jobs, and good community.
    Everyone should have equal access not just to healthy foods, but to the tools and knowledge to grow and cook healthy food. It doesn't necessarily mean everyone HAS to grow their own, but they should know how food grows.
    Our rural economies need new economic drivers. In our corner of the world, timber and fish were kings. Those days are gone, but our year-round growing and grazing climate means we can create new sustainable niche farming careers.
    Community is about shared responsibility. Hungry families need the food movement to push for healthy food access and affordability, cooking classes, community garden spaces, better food in schools, and better safety nets.
    And thanks to Tom Colicchio's TEDxManhattan talk, the food movement needs to get political. I've checked out my reps' records on food policy votes and written to my senator about her failure to support funding for SNAP. It's time for everyone in the food movement to hold elected officials to higher food standards.
  4. LeftOverFoodie — 03.26.14

    To me the Food Movement means we're all in this together. Farm to home to table. Everyone, and I mean everyone, with enough food and nutrients for their needs. The Food Movement is clean, healthy, available to all. Education and and awareness are key. How our food is grown, or taken care of, to cooking methods to waste to disposal. All tied into one. It's a big undertaking. A movement is growing and I would like to think we'll get there but it will take a change in eating habits, purchasing habits, and environmental concerns. Let's Go!!
  5. Amy Trimbo — 03.27.14

    The food movement is about increasing our interaction with our food systems. It’s about understanding where our food comes from, the people involved in getting that food to us, and what we need to do to create delicious, nutritious meals. Delicious food can be experienced by everyone, regardless of economic status or background. The food movement is about getting the dialogue started and finding ways that everyone can have access to delicious, nutritious food.
  6. Bonnie — 03.29.14

    It's great to see so much going on in the food movement, from focusing on eating locally grown food to addressing other important issues such as food waste, GMOs, food labelling, food security. People often eat food without even knowing what they are consuming, so increased awareness about how we produce our food and what is in our food is wonderful to see.
  7. Cath Cox04.08.14

    For me, the food movement is about reconnecting to who we are and what we value.
  8. Jenny04.09.14

    For me, the movement is about awareness. It is about an awareness of how the food we eat affects our bodies. It is about sharing that awareness with each other and challenging it based on the awareness and experience of those around us. In this sense, it is a conversation as much as it is an effort to make sure everyone has a voice in that conversation. It is about the policies, economics, environmental circumstances, and social justice issues that play a role in the production and distribution of food. It is about adapting these things for the future and ensuring that we are able to produce the food we need down the road. It is about culture, memories, delight, class, race, family, and community. It is about a changing collective awareness about what food is and isn't.
  9. Stephanie — 04.10.14

    For me, the food movement is first and foremost about education. It is about knowing why we need a movement in the first place. What is the history of our food? What is the goal of this movement? Why should we care? It is about educating ourselves and others on ethical, health, and environmental consequences surrounding the foods we eat and the food systems which we are all involved. I agree with Angela that it is political. We need to be aware that our tax dollars are helping to subsidize big agribusiness, yet leaving the poorest continually vulnerable, without safeguards for them to purchase good, nourishing foods. That (some) governments and big businesses are stripping the livelihoods from smallholder farmers everyday in order to make a profit.

    Our global population is growing so quickly; and while we do have enough food to feed everyone on the planet,we continually fail to distribute it adequately. We need to educate ourselves on how to help shape the systems in order to distribute healthy, culturally relevant food to those who are most in need. I believe we are taking very positive strides for change here in America. I am happy to see where we are headed. But it is a global issue and we must all work together in cultivating a fair and accessible way to feed everyone on our earth.
  10. Cat — 04.14.14

    When I think of the food movement, the words community, health, social justice and sustainability come to mind. But at the core of these themes, I find the idea of mindfulness. I believe the food movement is about bringing the practice of mindfulness to consumers as we make daily decisions on the food we eat. The food movement encourages our community to be mindful of the fact that each and every decision we make about what and how to consume directly affects the well-being of our community and environment. With these decisions, we have the opportunity to foster a healthy, cohesive, just, and sustainable food system, but we also have the opportunity to create exactly the opposite. The power of creating lasting positive change in our food system relies on the mindfulness of us consumers and the realization that change begins at the end of our own forks.
  11. Maddie D04.18.14

    The food movement is about reestablishing the connection between what we eat and where it comes from. It is about eating real food, but also about understanding the meaning of real food, knowing how it's made, and making it accessible and desirable to all.
    There are many different elements to the food movement which exist at many different levels of the food chain, but what ties it all together is an overarching drive toward widespread availability and appreciation of food that is healthy, environmentally and economically sound, and delicious.
  12. Lisa — 03.31.15

    When I think of a food movement, I see us getting away from artificial and moving towards real. Working in the healthcare setting, I often see families push to feed with artificial substitutions when it is no longer safe or feasible for the patient to eat like everyone else. I see long term care institutes moving towards what is easier (feeding tubes) instead of taking the time to hand feed these patients. I see the basic tenets of what foods is supposed to be - a source of nutrition and life - becoming a fight. My food movement is to go back to what is natural and nourishing, in life and in the dying process.

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