As global warming and species extinction threaten human survival, it is urgent that we tackle the behemoth that is our globalized industrial food system. Renowned experts and frontline activists have been urging us to fund sustainable agriculture, rebuild local food systems, and defend community and indigenous land rights.
The Bay Area has a thriving community working on these issues and connecting the local with the global. Unfortunately, the food movement also romanticizes carnism and promotes small-scale animal agriculture, which is alternately portrayed as a harmless substitute for factory farming, a necessity or even a silver bullet against climate change.
Take Alemany Farm. Alemany is the largest urban farm in San Francisco and commendable in many ways. It donates its harvest to the weekly Free From Stand, offers free workshops and training to volunteers, and provides a valuable example of sustainable growing. Alemany is an important leader in the Bay Area food movement and every year, it roasts a pig in celebration of Earth Day.
In the face of a growing vegan movement, it is natural that most people resist change. The food movement has provided validation to this social conservatism by putting forth a single representation of sustainability: one that looks like the Old McDonald Farm. This has cemented a false dichotomy between sustainable agriculture and compassion toward animals, but we can in fact have both. Indeed, we must. As I wrote in the last newsletter, addressing our environmental crises will require a shift at the very core of our culture, where we come to value kindness over domination.
For these reasons, I am incredibly honored and excited to speak at Berkeley Earth Day on April 22. Berkeley Earth Day is organized by Hope Bohanec, a long-time leader in the animal rights and environmental movements, and it will be an entirely vegan event. Speakers include Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin as well as experts on sustainable agriculture and climate change. I will speak about bridging the environmental and animal rights movements and organizing for a truly climate-friendly food system. It will be a beautiful day with music, film, food, and imagining a better way to live on this planet. I hope you will join us!