The Radical Food Network had its first meeting last Sunday, at LARC in Whitechapel, courtesy of Food Not Bombs, who kindly allowed us to gatecrash their free-food-giving-out event in Altab Ali Park.
It was fascinating to see the reactions of passers-by to the offer of free food. A combination of an instinctive (and typically British) polite refusal with a kind of horror that a mad person had just said something completely deranged to them. Perhaps one of the more important things that giving out free food achieves is not simply the saving of food that would otherwise have gone to waste but challenging the almost universal assumption that we all have to fight each other for everything we get. If some of the people who saw us left with at least the germ of a realisation that co-operation is not only possible but actually happening, that may be much more valuable than the food itself.
The meeting itself confirmed what I think we suspected beforehand, and what motivated us to start the network. It seemed that all the people there had met people from other groups involved with food, and had started to see possibilities for working together to achieve something more. And yet somehow there was no organised group set up to make those things happen. There was a real sense of optimism that many of the building blocks are already in place and that all we need to do is bring some of these groups together for them to start spontaneously working together to create a more powerful grassroots movement that can give us more control of the food we eat.
With that in mind, we decided to organise another meeting on Sunday 14th June. If you are involved with a group concerned with food, whether that is growing food, reducing waste,bulk buying or whatever, do feel free to come along. Or if you think this is something you’d like to be involved with, you’ll be more than welcome. Full details are on our events page.
This video shows the conditions that many migrant workers in Spain have to endure so that we can have vegetables that are cheap and fresh even when they are out of season.
We get the food we pay for. If that is what we decide we want from our food, then it is readily available in every supermarket and on the market stalls. But maybe price isn’t the only consideration. We might not see the suffering we inflict on people in another part of the world simply by choosing the food that is most readily available, but it is no less real for being easily hidden from view.
Welcome to what I hope could be the birth of a new organisation exploring how people might be able to work together to provide one of life’s most basic necessities.
I’m basing this on the Radical Housing Network, a non-hierarchical organisation of groups sharing a common interest in providing and protecting housing for the benefit of the community. There is an excellent article here explaining the way the RHN is organised and how that helps it to be so successful.
Why might we want to create a radical food network? Ultimately, by taking control of how our food is produced, distributed and sold, we can ensure that food is something that benefits the community. We can take control away from the corporate interests that currently treat food purely as a source of profit and make sure that we get the food we need, not the toxic, exploitative rubbish we are being sold at the moment.
That may be a distant goal at the moment but there is nothing to stop us taking steps in that direction straight away. There are probably many people who are doing some of this already. All that’s needed is for some of those groups to start coming together and working towards their common goals in pretty much the way the Radical Housing Network is already doing.
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