Food system intersects our social fabric

The Recorder, June 9, 2018

Claire Morenon’s My Turn column on May 23 was stunning. As the communications manager for CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture), she launched what I understand will be a series of editorials about the “Inequities in the Local Food System.”

CISA has spent 25 years weaving local farmers and consumers together in a fine fabric of celebration and economic development. By every measure, the organization has made a positive difference in the lives of most of us in the Pioneer Valley.

Morenon’s piece is a bold statement about the underside of the fabric, the place where we can see knots, and perhaps a few places where we can detect breaks in the weave, places that need repair. She addressed familiar problems – land access, low wages, immigration policy, and the low price of food. Then she turned our attention toward people on the margins, especially African American and Native American farmers who have been evicted from their land, discriminated against by federal, state and local policies, suffered under Jim Crow and sharecropping systems, and for whom reparations is a faint hope.

As I look for ways to understand my white privilege and speak out about racial injustice, I am grateful to Claire Morenon and the folks at CISA who are now inviting us to look at the underside of our agricultural history. We have miles to go, but CISA’s leadership is encouraging. As Claire said at the end, “Only with a shared sense of history will the vision of a truly resilient, inclusive, and equitable local food system be possible.”

Annie Cheatham