The March for Food Justice at the Bridgeton, NJ, Community Garden.
During mid-May, we talked with the Food Justice interns about key food sovereignty cases around the globe. The youth then chose which case study they wanted to learn more about, created a skit, and shared it with the group.
One team chose the Salt March from 1930 when India was under British control. Strict laws made it illegal for Indians to make or sell their own salt, and they were forced to purchase overpriced salt from the British. Many other laws discriminated against the Indians and treated them like second-class citizens despite Indians making up most of the population. Salt was a necessary ingredient for their food. When the British denied salt, they simultaneously denied life.
After choosing that case, the interns invited everyone to participate in a mock march. They remind us that while there was violence against Indians, Gandhi and his followers devoted themselves to the practice of nonviolence. In protest of salt restrictions, Gandhi declared that he would walk more than 200 miles to the ocean to make salt. Thousands joined Gandhi along the way and were arrested when they reached the sea. It wasn't until 17 years later that India gained independence, but many believed the Salt March sparked the fight for freedom.
Under the leadership of the youth, we gathered in the middle of the garden, channeled the spirit of the Salt March protesters, and proceeded to march in unison toward the front in respect of those who risked their lives against an oppressive authority. That day the youth did more than just recreating a scene on this small plot of land; that day, they were marching to reclaim their right to care for the land and cultivate healthy and culturally appropriate food to feed their community. A right that has been taken away from us.
When both youth and the community tend to the land and grow food, their work IS an act of resistance against the current food system that continues to exploit farmworkers, create food deserts, and increase food insecurity in their community. It's a step towards building an appreciation for the earth, acknowledging the importance of nourishment and self-care, and reconnecting with their culture and identity.
What do you think? How do we show resistance to our current food system? I'd love to hear your opinions on how we emulate Gandhi's Salt March - You can write me at firstname.lastname@example.org