By Ocean Robbins
Monsanto and big agribusiness are relentless in their pursuit of ever more profits, regardless of the impact on family farmers, animals, the environment, or your health.
Medical costs are bankrupting families, companies, and governments. And more and more people, including kids, are getting fatter and sicker. More than one-third of kids in the U.S. today are expected to contract diabetes, with a long-term economic cost that reaches into the trillions of dollars.
But a food revolution is building. And like many revolutions, young people are helping to lead the way.
From rural farms to urban dinner plates, from grocery store shelves to school lunch programs, people of all ages are rising up and taking action. We’re reclaiming our food systems and our menus, and we’re taking charge of our health.
If you believe in taking responsibility for your health, if you believe there is an important link between the quality of the food you eat and the quality of your life, you are part of this movement. And if you are, then you might want to check out the Food Revolution Summit that just started.
In a world where genetically engineered, pesticide-contaminated, highly processed pseudo-food can be considered normal, choosing real, healthy, sustainable food can be a revolutionary act.
But the food revolution is not fought with swords and bombs. Instead, it is fought with your knife and fork. And the only collateral damage is better health, more energy, and a brighter world for future generations.
Throughout history, young people have had a crucial role to play in social change movements. Buckminster Fuller said: “Our children are our elders in universe time. It is our privilege to see a new world through their eyes.”
From the 1960s to the present day, it is so often the young people who are willing to buck the trend, create a new status quo, and change the course of history.
Food is one place where that is showing up today. More and more young people are taking an interest in gardening, organic and natural foods, and plant-based food choices. In the United States, teens and young adults are more than twice as likely to be vegetarian as people over the age of 55. Young people are often more passionate about labeling of GMOs, cruelty to animals in factory farms, and many of the other hot food issues of our times.
Even though the forces we’re up against are powerful, and even though Monsanto and their allies sometimes seem to have the FDA and the USDA in their back pocket, I have tremendous hope.
In the last 25 years, consumption of feedlot beef in the United States has dropped by 19 percent, while organic food sales have increased over 26-fold, to now exceed four percent of market share.
People are also taking an increasing interest in the way that the animals raised for food are treated. In fact, a poll conducted by Lake Research partners found that 94 percent of Americans agree that animals raised for food on farms deserve to be free from cruelty. Nine U.S. states have now joined the entire European Union in banning gestational crates for pigs, and Australia’s two largest supermarket chains now sell only cage-free eggs in their house brands.
The demand is growing for food that is organic, sustainable, fair trade, GMO-free, humane, and healthy. In cities around the world, we’re seeing more and more farmer’s markets (a nearly three-fold increase in the last decade), and more young people getting back into farming. Grocery stores (even big national chains) are displaying local, natural and organic foods with pride. The movements for healthy food are growing fast, and starting to become a political force.
Want to find out how YOU can get involved? I invite you to join more than 60,000 people who have signed up for the Food Revolution Summit. My dad, bestselling author John Robbins, and I are interviewing 24 of the world’s top leaders in movements for healthy, sustainable, humane and conscious food, starting today.
No matter how many times the earth has gone around the sun since you were born, if you eat, if you care about your health, and if you want a sustainable world, then you have a stake in this revolution.
Ocean Robbins is founder of Youth for Environmental Sanity (YES!), which he founded at age 16 and directed for 20 years. He serves as adjunct professor at Chapman University and as CEO and co-host (with best-selling author John Robbins) of the 100,000 member Food Revolution Network.
What You Can Do
Go to the movies. Eric Schlosser’s Food, Inc., Drs. Caldwell Esslestyn and T. Colin Campbell’s Forks Over Knives, and Jeffrey Smith’s Genetic Roulette are some of the most popular and insightful films currently on the market.
Boycott the bad guys. Many people are choosing to boycott companies that oppose labeling of GMOs, that treat farm animals cruelly, or that profit from the sale of junk food.
Other consumers are choosing to buy from the good guys. For example, the non-profit Non-GMO Project, which offers a third party certification program, has now verified thousands of products and is now certifying $3.4 billion in annual sales. You can also check out the farmer’s market nearest you.
Sign petitions for GMO labeling. Want to work for policy change? A team of organizations, led by Care2 and the Food Revolution Network, have launched a petition demanding that Congress label GMOs, and it has already generated more than 80,000 signatures. And last year’s JustLabelIt petition to the FDA, which generated more than 1.3 million signatures, is being revived in hopes that the FDA might eventually dig itself out of Monsanto’s back pocket.
Get politically engaged. For the passionate activist, there’s always more you can do, like lobbying your member of Congress, your mayor, your governor, your local media outlets, or your relatives. You can also join the Humane Society’s campaign for farm animal protection, or Farm Sanctuary’s work for animal welfare legislation.
Get engaged and informed. For a directory of organizations working for healthy, sustainable and humane food, as well as free access to dozens of cutting edge articles and tools to help you make a difference, you can sign up to join the Food Revolution Summit. Or check out the forthcoming book, Voices of the Food Revolution, which captures some of the top insights of game-changing food movement leaders.
Big agribusiness would probably like us all to sit alone in the dark, munching on highly processed, genetically engineered, chemical-laden, pesticide-contaminated pseudo-foods. But the tide of history is turning, and regardless of how much they spend attempting to maintain their hold on our food systems, more and more people are saying No to foods that lead to illness, and YES to foods that help us heal.
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This article appears in:
2013 Catalyst - Issue 7