Food gives us life, but only if it is life-giving food… Mislabeling and weaponizing food, growing food and acquiring farm land in unethical ways – doing harm by manipulating nature are all sad realities of the main food industries across this planet which supply our grocery store chains. Chemicals such as artificial, addictive sweeteners, stabilisers, rising agents, preservatives, flavours, colours, fertilisers, insecticides and pharmaceuticals are ingredients of most food items, so are metals, nanotechnology and manipulated yeasts which survive the baking process and drive havoc in people’s intestines. This trend has increased dramatically over the last few years. Many food plant and animal products are genetically or otherwise modified, and processed to the point of lacking any nutritional value, or being outright harmful. The latter stands also for the ways in which many people prepare their meals at home. Our bodies have gotten used to living (or existing) in a constant state of malnutrition, and so many are not even aware of this.
Many of the peoples and societies which grow much of the world’s foods are exploited, coerced and driven away from their lands. Whole ecosystems and much of the world’s soils have been destroyed by international corporations which disregard human and environmental rights. Food labels such as organic, clean or halal address a small fraction of these issues while creating new ones. I have seen chocolates labelled as organic when the ingredient list reads palm oil, artificial flavours & emulsifiers (e.g. E442 & E476), or labelled as fairtrade but research leads to no traces regarding its origin, or conditions of production. Packaging often consists of aluminum. Obviously this is neither organic, nor fairtrade.
While on the positive side more and more truly ethical food initiatives and businesses are emerging from a grassroots level (see below for a variety of examples), costs for ethical farming tend to be higher, at least initially than for chemical food production – driving many people into a tradeoff situation between ethics and nutritional value on the one hand, and affordability on the other. Hence we are also constantly looking for initiatives which prioritise our basic human right to food and ensure that everyone in the community has access to basic supplies. Affordability, sliding scales and free food movements are an essential part of ethics. Few initiatives manage to juggle all of these issues, but both awareness and success in building truly ethical food systems are increasing at fast speed. Honest fairtrade collaborations, real organic farming, and locally focused initiatives which ensure food equity are on the rise – eradicating modern slavery in this sector, and bringing nutrients back into our food chains. Below are some examples out of large bandwidth of inspiring initiatives out there. Also take a look at our Foraging & farming page to find inspiration and guidance towards growing food, incl. in small front yards. There are wonderful projects ad movements unfolding.
Soul Fire Farm
New York, USA
Afro-indigenous agroforestry, silvopasture, wildcrafting, polyculture with no till technology & heritage crops. Regenerating 80 acres of mountainside land, producing fruits, plant medicine, pasture-raised livestock, honey, mushrooms, vegetables & preserves for surrounding communities. Majority of harvest supplies people living under food apartheid or impacted by state violence and is available on sliding scale pricing. Farm buildings are hand-constructed from local wood, adobe, straw bales & recycled materials. Solar heat. Participation in Real Organics Project. Racial equity activism.
Network of 40 ethical, organic small-scale family mixed farms growing various types of vegetables & pasture-raising chicken, sheep, pigs, cows (Red Rubies) which live on local, natural grassland. Special focus on regenerative farming methods & native animal breeds naturally adapted to local, rugged conditions. Network rooted in strong, long-term relationships of mutual trust. Fair prices based on mutual agreement, not top-down hierarchies. Part of Slow Food movement & zero to landfill business.
Real Organic Project
Securing real organic farming, the foundation of which are healthy, fertile soils in which food plants are grown, and natural pastures on which farm animals are raised. The USDA organic label does not account for such standards. Instead plants are grown hydroponically (in water only) and animals are kept in confinement under questionable conditions and without living food. Both diminish nutritional value and disregard the natural needs of healthy plant and animal life, doing harm to the planet. The Real Organic Project is a grassroots farmers initiative and has created its own label which can be found on real organic foods in the USA.
The Lucy Foundation
Mexico & New Zealand
Creating a culture of inclusivity of people with disabilities through organic coffee. Coffee grown by indigenous coffee-farming families and disabled people in Pluma Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Mexico. Then shipped to New Zealand by John Burton Ltd & roasted by Able Coffee Collaborative – both supporting disability rights, inclusion and diversity. Coffee which is good for the environment, the community and the economy.
Ivanhoe Community Grocers
Chickadee Farm Herbs
High-quality handcrafted organic herbs & pasture. Family farm. Off-grid with rain water collection system. Land stewardship in alignment with surrounding forests & waters. Truly local. Reuse & repair. Recycled cardboard packaging.
Speerville Flour Mill
New Brunswick, Canada
High quality organic & non-genetically altered seed & foods including many grains, legumes & seeds. Stone-ground flours. Collaboration with other truly local & organic companies, providing nuts & nut butters, dried fruit, coffee, cheese, honey, oils, natural household supplies and more. Foods grown in high quality soil. 100% local to Canadian Maritimes. True customer care.
The Little Milk Company
Collaboration of 10 Irish organic dairy farmers. Valuing animal husbandry, soil preservation, clean water. Milk derived from animals which graze on natural, pesticide & GMO-free pastures. Cheese made from raw, unpasteurized, organic milk, no chemicals added. Multi-award-winning cheeses, exported globally. All farms are family owned & run. Animals are free of antibiotics.
Riverford Organic Farmers
Organic produce, dairy, eggs, baked products, grown or made by small-scale farmers & artisans. Everything sold is 100% organic. Healthy work conditions & fair wages. Certified B Corp. Employee ownership of company. Gender equity. Compostable bags, reusable boxes & other pioneering packaging. Investment in sustainability projects.
Ghana & Germany
Truly fair, vegan, organic chocolate. Made in Africa from cocoa bean to chocolate bar. 70% of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa but < 1% of chocolate is produced there. This is changing, truly & fairly making Africa part of the chocolate business rather then just using it as a provider of raw products. Truly fairtrade.
Wild Alaskan Company
Truly wild-caught & sustainably fished salmon, halibut, rockfish, cod. Caught & packaged in Alaska. Reconnecting with nature – ourselves. Connecting food & community. Owned by Alaskan fishing family which decisively left behind the commercial fishing industry. Transparency & traceability of food. No antibiotics or colours added. 100% compostable or recyclable packaging. Sharing recipes.
Restoring Japan’s traditional food system & health through organic farming, food education & community involvement, leaving behind the country’s deep food dependencies. Workshops, volunteer programs, tours, consultations – connecting city & country. Cofounder of Seeds of Sustainability in Kyoto city.
USA & worldwide
Organic groceries, coffee, tea, chocolate. Authentic fairtrade. Building a cooperative trade model that connects all parts of the supply chain. Partners with many amazing farming & trading businesses & organisations, all introduced on their website, creating long-term trading relationships. Supporting small-scale, natural farming across the planet. Collaborates with grocery stores, food co-ops, cafes, restaurants, universities, offices. Supply chain transparency & equity. Co-op owned. Shared decision-making.
Association of small family farms producing heirloom organic vegetables, grains, beans, herbs, fruit. Merging historic Palestinian agriculture knowledge & modern organic practices. Long term partnerships with fair trade principles. Work with > 2000 artisan farms from ~ 50 villages. Practices rooted in soil health. Reciprocity between people, plants, animals, insects and microorganisms. Supporting ancient olive orchards. Regenerative agricultural practices & permaculture.
10 community fridges across Miami-Dade County to provide access to fresh, healthy food to those in need on a ‘take what you need, leave what you can’ basis of trust. Also volunteer distribution system for those who cannot get to the fridges. Changing the landscape of food injustice by encouraging neighbors to support neighbors. Community-owned initiative founded by a group of Miami artists & community organizers – merging creativity & social service.
Multigenerational organic permaculture seed farm, flower & greenhouse farm, lavender field & asparagus plantation. Vegetable, legume & flower seeds, pumpkin, squash, melon, salad greens, lavender products, saplings. Also offering permaculture certification courses & phone/online consultation. Many tips & info on website. Reusable & biodegradable paper, hemp & wood packaging. Website in Ukrainian language.
Family farm for 100% grass fed, biodiverse pasture-raised, organic beef, lamb, chicken, turkey & goose. Animals live in groups & roam freely except hens & turkey. Hen & turkey pens/roosts moved along pastures every 24hours. Non-GMO. Mimicking the natural life of animals. Transparency about farming & slaughter practices. Humane slaughter principles. Maremma Livestock Guardian dogs keep animals safe.
Farms to Grow, Inc.
Increasing access to urban food markets for black & marginalised sustainable farmers, their communities, schools & restaurants. Free farming workshops rooted in connectedness to land; skill’s training, access to speciality crops & machinery etc. Farmer’s market program, community nutritious cooking programs, building of school gardens. De-colonising farming & reviving ancestral knowledge. Documenting farming history. Empowering black, hispanic & other marginalised farmers.
Sonnentor Kräuterhandels GMBH
Organic hand-picked, locally processed herbs, spices & herbal products sourced via direct, fair trade with farmers in Czech Republic, Albania, Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, Nicaragua & Tanzania etc. Value transparency & independence from agricultural subsidies. Support biodiverse farming incl. permaculture. Palm oil-free. Minimised packaging with mainly compostable/recyclable materials.
Promoting products of small Greek farmers & family-owned food businesses while using sales profits to buy essential, nutritious food supplies for children, homeless families & elderlies who live below poverty line. Educational programs supporting food-related entrepreneurship across Greece & working towards gender equality. Design of Corporate Social Responsibility programs addressing plastic pollution, essential food supplies etc.
Small family farm producing organic hemp foods, oils, teas & hemp paper. Hemp consulting & agri-tourism: tours, educational courses/workshops on hemp cultivation, food, paper-making, construction; hemp museum – reuniting people with their natural environment. Youth traineeship program – scholarships available. Letting business unfold naturally, lead by the plant.
Sindyanna of Galilee
Non-profit focused on skill, fair trade & “business for peace”, uniting Arab & Jewish communities through mutual support, women-led. Producing high-quality organic olive oils, za’atar spice mixes, carob syrup, almonds, honey, traditional crafts. Profits fund education towards organic farming & trad. craft of marginalised Arab women. Turning degraded land into flourishing farms. Embodying true equity.
Dem. Rep. Congo
Quality chocolate made locally bean to bar, locally grown & roasted coffee, chia seeds, artisanal soap, hand-made textiles. Empowering local community & family businesses, contributing to peace, securing Virunga rainforest. 100% profits return to Virunga & surrounding communities. Support of widows of > 200 male & female rangers who were killed protecting the national park. Keeping youth out of militia.
Virunga & Peace:
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Look at all the food
but I am not hungry.
I am not in the mood
to fill my stomach for life.
What do I need,
solid on my feet?
Life is abundant.
With fear and greed?
Where is the meaning?
Is it in the food?
for comfort, to soothe.
I am afraid I need more,
need to live deeper amore.
Be the sun, feel the water,
take your power per favore.
Always hungry, but hungry for what?
What are you, what am I?
Dead beings in my gut.
Life is light, life is easy.
Drop the load and eat meaning.
Stop hardship and start dreaming.
Its everywhere: inside and out.
Be yourself – just clarity, no doubt.
Poem by Carina Ramm