Global Topics to Local Action

At first, I was cautious about whether my groupmates and I were all on board to focus on Food Security as our topic.  I worried that I would not be able to contribute as much as I would like due to my lack of knowledge about the field, as well as the wide variety of politics surrounding food as I learned throughout this course.  We all knew that if we were to succeed, asking questions and communicating with each other would be the key.  Together, in and outside of class hours, we went through much collective deliberation, narrowing our focus from the global scale to the local community.

Our thoughts for the action project started at the global level.  I feel a sentence that best describes our initial action project comes from Vandana Shiva’s The Real Reasons for Hunger: “Globalization has dismantled the systems which guaranteed domestic market access for farmers, a system which brought food security to the poor.”  Due to unfair requirements in the World Trade Organization, such as the reduction of money value to increase competitiveness, as well as price dumping of foreign products in domestic markets, third world countries are trapped in a cycle of food insecurity.  I also learned from group members that a combination of not addressing immigration and hunger, results in immediate ramifications.  From an article published in the American Security Project website, Food Insecurity is a Counterterrorism Problem by Victoria DeSimone, she warned that “conflicts involving food insecurity provides a ripe opportunity for the emergence of extremist groups to arise in these vulnerable areas.”  Blaming developed nations, especially the United States, for hunger and immigration problems fuels collective anger and frustration, which increases recruitment power for terror groups.  In quiz section, Professor Dubeau described how American exceptionalism, an ideology that positions the United States as unique and “better” among nations, becomes the rationale for us consuming and controlling as much as we can.  This mentality prioritizes ourselves and ignores the consequences.

At the local level, we decided to connect our food security topic with immigration and farming practices around Washington.  We focused more on the individuals who farm our food and have lack of food security due to harsh farming practices.  Currently, according to Northwest Harvest,  1 in 8 Washingtonians did not get enough food to meet their basic nutritional needs.  In a 2017 Washington Post article written by Tamar Haspel, out of approximately 2 million farm workers, 46% were illegal immigrants; companies taking advantage of their labor for affordable produce. From, these farm workers were earning around $15,000 a year.  Combining these facts together, we created a flyer that explains how low wages keep immigrant families from acquiring food security and other health necessities, becoming trapped under the exploitation of produce companies around the nation.

Throughout the whole course, it was truly beneficial to learn how to analyze the world in a deeper, more meaningful way.  Even though our topic for our action project was food security, it gave us an opportunity to practice systemic thinking to connect and correlate issues from different areas of politics to one another.  ENVIR 385 helps us better understand our roles in this world of interconnections.

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