Student 'teach-in' claims food industry is 'built on racism'

Students at the University of Washington recently hosted a “teach-in” on how America’s “food system is built on racism.”

A student organization known as “Husky Real Food Challenge,” a chapter of a “national campaign that leverages the power of youth and universities to create a healthy, fair, and sustainable food system,” hosted Tuesday’s event to demonstrate how the food industry is “built on racism.”

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“We know the title of our teach-in is proactive,” organizers of the event concede, but insist that the title is “far from symbolic” since “it is a fact that today inmates, predominantly black Americans, harvest a lot of the food that we eat for less than $.50/hr.”

The description also decries the alleged lack of “any kind of labor law” protecting farm workers, “many from Latin America,” complaining that they are “paid per piece (not salary, or wage, but per item or pound they pick),” but failing to specify why this arrangement should be considered objectionable.

“It is a fact that the lowest paying jobs are in the food industry and the highest level of food insecurity is amongst workers in the food supply chain,” the group contends before going on to lambast the way “animals are treated” in the food industry.

“We also know that animals are treated with immense cruelty in our industrial food system and that it hasn’t gone unnoticed by our bodies or our earth,” the organizers continue, purporting to “also know that animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation, and is the largest contributor to climate change.”

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“All the while, one of the most powerful lobbies to our political representatives is the meat, poultry, and seed industries,” the lamentation continues, concluding that “our food system is not working to our benefit but our demise.”

Notably, the organization has been lobbying UW President Ana Mari Cauce to incorporate its concerns into the university’s food purchases, and in January held a protest on campus after she “refused to meet with” the organization to discuss its belief that “Our current food system is broken and will only worsen under the Trump presidency.”

The students reference that issue in the description for their recent event, declaring that “we want to ensure that UW uses its purchasing power to contribute to Real Food, not exploitation,” elaborating that “Real Food” means “food that truly nourishes producers, consumers, communities, and the earth.”

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The group is now planning another demonstration on Thursday in an effort to gain “meetings with student government leaders and administrators in the coming weeks.”

“President Cauce has repeatedly declined to attend,” a Facebook event page for Thursday’s protest explains. “Join us as we ask her to sit at the table with us and make a commitment to a more transparent, inclusive, and fair-food system.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski