Radical teaching and the food justice movement: introduction.

Author:Annas, Pamela

When we first proposed an issue of Radical Teacher focusing on food, we had no idea how much interest there would be, or how much radical politics has found a home in the food movement. We knew from the beginning that assembling articles on this topic would be challenging, since so much of the writing and thinking on food studiously avoids radical analysis of the human, environmental, and social costs of the corporatization of food production and the alienation of Americans from the food they eat. The dream of the natural food movement has been realized not by the toppling of agribusiness, but by the Walmartization of organic farming. And while organic factory farming is an improvement over its conventional counterpart--less pollution of waterways by fertilizer runoff, less poisoning of farmworkers by pesticides, and less injection of antibiotics and hormones into the food chain are certainly positive developments--it hardly addresses the interlocking injustices endemic to the food industry.

We tested the waters with a panel at the Left Forum entitled "What is Radical About the Food Movement?" which attracted a large and enthusiastic crowd, and from which two of the articles in this issue--Nancy Romer's and Doris Friedensohn's--originated. Once we sent out the call for papers we were stunned by the volume of response: more than thirty proposals for an issue we envisioned comprising five or six articles. And we were heartened by the range and engagement of the proposals, which came from a broad diversity of writers. Many were from people of color, many from the young, several from older writers, several featured grassroots movements and organizing, including union organizing, several from an international perspective, written with an energy and passion that was refreshing. At the same time, we also saw how dominant the liberal analysis of food systems has become in the discourse on food justice, implicitly arguing that community gardens and school mini-farms and organic produce are, in and of themselves, radical interventions. Certainly, creating a venue for fresh fruit and vegetables in food deserts and teaching children where their food comes from are palliatives to the brutal economies of the food systems in which McDonald's double cheeseburgers are cheaper than apples. But what we were looking for were articles that did more than offer a bunch of collard greens in place of a systemic critique. As you will see, the articles we selected for this issue do the difficult work of engaged political analysis of a broad array of places where...

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