Our current working vision is of a society where each community exercises significant control over its food system through radically democratic negotiation, action and learning in ways that nurture all of our people and sustain our land for current and future generations, and where universities and cooperative extension are supportive partners in this process.
“Dignity” encompasses our respect and honor for each person, every culture, our ancestors, future generations, and our fellow living things. There is, for example, no dignity in food grown through poisoning and impoverishing farm workers, mutilating animals, and draining our children’s groundwater. Lining up for an hour to get a banana from a food bank, abandoning a WIC or SNAP transaction at the register because of a disallowed item or wrong date, and worrying about where your next meal is coming from erode human dignity. We aim for food systems that restore, foster and sustain dignity and everyday democracy with equitable participation and–crucially–negotiation in creating communities we can all thrive in.
We aim for dignity, as in the words of the Zapatista marching poem below, to be our way and our goal, our means and our ends, our path and our destination.1
Our work is guided by this statement of our values:2
We value the fundamental dignity, worth, sovereignty, self-determination and the inherent power of all people. As members of the Food Dignity project, we are committed to principles and ways of working within our own work and in the changes we wish to inform and inspire in the world, by:
as we strive to achieve equity for every human being and personal, institutional, structural and systemic transformations.
1See the EZLN “March of Dignity” poem, which opens, “Dignity is a bridge./It needs two sides that, being different, distinct and distant become one in the bridge/without ceasing to be different and distinct, but ceasing already to be distant.” In Bühler, U. Participation ‘with Justice and Dignity’: Beyond ‘the New Tyranny’, page 6, online at www.brad.ac.uk/ssis/peace-conflict-and-development/issue-1/Participation.pdf
2Monica Hargraves, Scott Peters, Ken Schlather, Hank Herrera, Suzanne Gervais, and Lila Cabbil developed the first draft of this statement at the May 2014 Food Dignity meeting in Ithaca, New York.