September 30th is both Orange Shirt Day & National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, which promotes the awareness of U.S. Indian Boarding Schools by wearing orange on this day.
The day was born in Canada, when a residential school survivor told the story of wearing an orange shirt that her grandmother bought for her, and then having it stripped off of her when she arrived at a boarding school.
This day recognizes the loss of identity, culture, and language that many Indigenous children experienced in these institutions.
*Trigger warning: The following blog will talk about child abuse & child death.
Beginning with the Indian Civilization Act Fund of March 3, 1819 and the Peace Policy of 1869 the United States, in concert with and at the urging of several denominations of the Christian Church, adopted an Indian Boarding School Policy.
Between 1819 to 1969, the Federal Indian Boarding School system consisted of 408 Federal schools across 37 states or then-territories, including 21 schools in Alaska and 7 schools in Hawaii. Some individual Federal Indian boarding schools accounted for multiple sites. The 408 Federal Indian Boarding Schools accordingly comprised 431 specific sites.
These government-sponsored religious schools were implemented as part of a larger goal: to assimilate and absorb Indigenous people into the settler culture by systematically undermining the cultures and ways of life of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.
Residential schools did this by disrupting families by taking away the children, thereby severing the intergenerational ties through which Indigenous cultures and ways of knowing and being are taught and sustained. Indigenous children as young as 3 years old were removed and isolated from their homes, families, traditions, cultures, and communities. They were forbidden from speaking their languages and forced to adopt Christian religious practices, and modes of thinking, behaving, and being.
At boarding schools, staff forced Indigenous students to cut their hair and use new, Anglo-American names. And by removing them from their homes, the schools disrupted students’ relationships with their families and other members of their tribe.
On top of that, many children faced other forms of abuse including physical, emotional, & sexual abuse.
In 2015, the Orange Shirt Society was formed to create awareness of the individual, family and community inter-generational impacts of Indian Residential Schools with the purpose of supporting Indian Residential School Reconciliation and promoting the truth that every child matters. The Orange Shirt Society is a non-profit organization based in Williams Lake, BC where Orange Shirt Day was first honored in 2013.
Orange Shirt Day was created out of Phyllis’ story.
In 1973, when Phyllis (Jack) Webstad (Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation) was six years old, she was sent to the Mission School near Williams Lake, BC. Her first memory of her first day at the Mission School was that of having her own clothes taken away – including a brand new orange shirt given to her by her grandmother.
In 2013, Phyllis attended the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) Residential School (1891-1981) Commemoration Project and Reunion events that took place in Williams Lake. At this event, Phyllis shared her story with those in attendance – and Orange Shirt Day was born.
The September 30th date was chosen because it was the time of year in which children were taken from their homes and families to residential schools, and the date now provides an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the current school year.
Many children never returned home and their fates have yet to be accounted for by the U.S. government. In recent years, efforts to raise awareness about the legacy of boarding schools have gained momentum with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland – the nation’s first Native American to serve as cabinet secretary – who launched an initiative to investigate the boarding schools.
The Interior Department’s initial investigation found that 19 boarding schools accounted for the deaths of more than 500 American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children but noted the number of recorded deaths was expected to rise.
Indigenous communities are currently undergoing a complex and ongoing process of healing after decades of Indian Boarding Schools. The trauma inflicted by these institutions has had deep and lasting effects on individuals, families, and entire communities. Healing is a multifaceted journey that encompasses several key aspects:
- Cultural Revival: Indigenous communities are working diligently to reclaim, preserve, and revitalize their traditional languages, customs, and spiritual practices. This process is essential for reconnecting with their cultural heritage, which was often forcibly suppressed during the boarding school era.
- Truth and Reconciliation: Truth and reconciliation commissions have been established in various countries, such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in Canada. These initiatives aim to provide a platform for survivors to share their stories and experiences, while also seeking acknowledgment, apologies, and redress from the government and church institutions responsible for the schools.
- Community Support: Indigenous communities are strengthening their support systems, both internally and externally. Mental health services, counseling, and community healing circles provide safe spaces for survivors and their descendants to share their feelings and experiences and seek emotional support.
- Education and Awareness: Advocacy for accurate and inclusive education is a significant part of the healing process. Indigenous communities, along with allies, are working to ensure that the history of Indian Boarding Schools and their impact is integrated into school curricula. This helps promote understanding and empathy among future generations.
- Inter-Generational Healing: Many Indigenous communities are addressing the intergenerational trauma passed down from boarding school survivors to their descendants. Healing ceremonies, storytelling, and cultural activities play a vital role in this process.
- Legal Actions and Restorative Justice: Some Indigenous communities are pursuing legal actions to seek justice and restitution for the harm caused by Indian Boarding Schools. These actions aim to hold responsible institutions accountable for their actions.
- Empowerment and Resilience: Indigenous communities are celebrating their resilience and strength in the face of adversity. By highlighting their achievements, talents, and contributions to society, they counteract negative stereotypes and narratives.
Learning about Orange Shirt Day and the generational trauma endured by Indigenous people attending Indian Boarding Schools is not just a matter of historical significance; it is an essential step toward acknowledging our shared past, fostering empathy, and working towards a more inclusive and just future. By understanding the profound impact these schools had on Indigenous communities and by actively engaging in conversations and education around this painful chapter in history, we can contribute to the process of healing, reconciliation, and building stronger, more compassionate societies.
Adapting my Great-Grandmother’s Recipes for the Co-op’s Holiday Meal
Reflections by Marketing Specialist Christine Ciganovich
Each July, at the peak of summer, the Marketing Team begins planning the Holiday Meal. The Co-op has hosted the Holiday Meal, a free hot meal on Christmas Eve, every year since 1985 (read more about the Holiday Meal here). The first meal was hosted by a LGBTQ+ couple, both employees of the Co-op, whose families wouldn’t take them in. Seeing that others in our community also had nowhere to go for the holidays they organized a meal for any and all to attend. The event continued the following year, evolving into a community wide effort on Christmas Eve to provide a free and warm meal for as many as 700 people. Scheming for this year’s Holiday Meal, its 38th iteration, began some weeks ago in a meeting in the Teaching Kitchen on a very hot July day.
The Co-op’s Ends say we exist to provide “access to healthful, local and high-quality food,” among other things, but we keep coming back to this one as we’ve seen food insecurity grow in our county and among our shoppers in recent years. Naturally, our conversation about this year’s Holiday Meal started with access. When considering need in the county, especially our most vulnerable unhoused or elderly housebound neighbors, most can’t get to the Vet Memorial Center in Davis, where the meal is, so that’s something serious to consider. In the past we’ve offered meat and vegetarian meals to accommodate as many diets as possible. We also pull this off with a volunteer team and as many donations as possible.
Soon a plan came together: we partner with shelters and community organizations like Meals on Wheels, Yolo County with existing networks to provide meals to those who cannot attend the sit-down dinner, which will still take place as so many have made it a part of their holiday tradition. The meal itself needed deciding upon too. What would be delicious, nutritious, accommodate the most diets, and be relatively easy for a volunteer team to make 600 portions of in about 8 hours? In the past, we’ve done traditional American holiday foods (turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, etc.) This is my very favorite kind of puzzle to solve. Making a meal so large requires so many moving parts. It is the peak logistical and creative challenge for me. And then I had a lightbulb moment: tamales. In truth, vegan tamales.
“Hear me out: vegan tamales solve all of our problems,” I told Marketing Manager Vince. They’re a main course that serves both meat eaters and vegans and they’re gluten free too. We can make 1200 between now and December and freeze them, which means our main course is already taken care of before we even pull up to the Vet Memorial Center on 12/24. This also means I can train the whole Marketing Team on how to make tamales, a valuable skill! From there it was easy to decide to scrap the traditional sides in favor of spanish rice, (vegan) refried beans, and a kale and pepita salad. A quick text to my mom and subsequent trip to her little metal recipe box meant I was adapting my Great-Grandmother, Ofelia’s, recipes for rice and beans to feed 600 people just twenty minutes later.
My Great-Grandmother was born in Mexico in 1911 and immigrated to the United States as a girl. She was a gifted seamstress, making dresses for golden age Hollywood starlets. She would later make my Halloween costumes and teach me how to sew and crochet. Summers were spent with my Grandma and Great-Grandmother until I was a teenager and they watched me, my brother, and my cousins before we started school while our parents worked.
Both matriarchs were gifted cooks and my Grandmother, Norma, still is. When we were young my brother and I pestered my mom to make “Nana’s rice and beans” at home, because five days a week wasn’t enough. The elder women always seemed to leave out an ingredient measurement or forget that the rice *has* to be *this* brand or just gave vague instruction (“Smash beans – not a lot of juice” for example) until, after many attempts, my mom had some recipes written down, possibly for the first time in their many decades of use.
Truth be told, I hadn’t made these recipes myself, but always looking over my Great-Grandmother or Grandmother’s shoulder. To make enough rice for 600 for the Holiday Meal, I reckon I ought to be able to make a single batch, so I grabbed ingredients from the Co-op and went to work in our Teaching Kitchen. Soon the whole building filled with the smell of rice frying in oil, something I hadn’t smelled in a very long time. It was a very special moment, essentially facilitated by my workplace, and so I was standing in the Kitchen, heart very full, crying a little bit about how beautiful it all was.
Since then, the weather has cooled, the students have returned, and our Tamale Tracker tells me we’re 3 ahead of schedule at 103 cooked and frozen tamales. Only 1,097 to go! Although the Holiday Meal is probably the largest undertaking of the Marketing Team each year, it is truly a store-wide and community wide cooperative effort, and this year more than most with so much preparation happening beforehand. I want to give a huge shout out to Fresh Operations Manager James, the Meat Department and the Deli Department for letting us use their equipment and freezer for tamale production and to Store Operations Manager Rocio and Center Store Specialist Mike H. for helping us secure ingredients at this early stage in the process. The team at Meals on Wheels, Yolo County is helping ensure homebound seniors in Davis get to participate in the meal in addition to donating the kitchen equipment we’ll need to make it all. Many more folks from the Co-op and from across the county will be responsible for the success of this year’s meal. I feel deeply humbled and so very proud to share my family’s food and history with our community as a small part of that effort.
The Meal is still several months away! We’ll share more about it, including how you can volunteer or donate, as we get closer to December. Until then, happy Hispanic Heritage Month! Myself along with General Manager Laura and Store Support Manager Briza have been sharing family recipes at the registers. Look for those recipe cards until October 15th or find them all here.
It’s Hispanic Heritage Month
Celebrated each year from September 15th through October 15th, Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes the cultures, histories, achievements and contributions of Hispanic Americans. September 15 was chosen as the starting point for the commemoration of Hispanic Heritage Month as the anniversary of the Cry of Dolores (1810), which marked the start of the Mexican War of Independence. It was this moment that eventually led to independence for the Spanish colonies that are now recognized as the countries of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Nicaragua. For a great list of resources related to Hispanic Heritage Month, we encourage you to visit this page here from the National Museum of the American Latino.
For the last few years, we’ve asked our staff to share their favorite family recipes with our community during this month. You can find these recipes at our registers over the next few weeks or collected below for your enjoyment. All of the ingredients for these recipes can be found at the Co-op, excpet where noted.
Laura Sanchez, General Manager
Ensalada de Nopales
“This is my mom’s recipe for a nice salad, healthy and refreshing recipe. Perfect for summer barbecues. Buy Nopales that are already cut.” -Laura S.
- Bag of cut nopales, approximately ½ pound (find at La Superior in Woodland)
- 2-3 fresh chopped tomatoes
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 small bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
- The juice of a lemon
- ½ tbs of olive oil
- A pinch of oregano, crumbled
- Salt and pepper to season
- For serving: queso fresco, chips or tostadas
In a pan with water, boiled the nopales with a small amount of salt and onion for about 20 minutes. Turn off the pan and rinse the nopales with cold water. Let them sit until the nopales cool off or rinse them with ice water.
In a bowl, mix the nopales, chopped tomatoes, chopped onion and cilantro. Set aside.
In a small bowl mix the olive oil, the lemon juice, the pinch of crumbled oregano, salt and pepper.
Put the olive oil and all the ingredients with the nopales. Refrigerate for about 1 hour and serve. You can add crumbled Mexican fresh cheese when serving. You can serve them on tostadas or eat them with corn chips.
Beef Chile Colorado
- 2 pounds of beef, cubed
- 1 28-oz. can of Las Palmas Red Chile Sauce
- ½ white onion, sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
In a deep pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Sauté the onion until soft and translucent, but not brown. Remove cooked onion from the pot.
Add the meat and brown nicely. Once the meat is brown, add the onion and the can of red chile sauce. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes, then transfer to the crock pot.
Cook in the crock pot for 5 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low. Serve with red or white rice (recipe below).
- 1-1 1/2 lbs chicken breast cut into thin strips (about the same size so they cook evenly)
- Olive oil, about 2-3 tbsp
- 1 tsp salt (maybe 1 and 1/2 tsp if you like your food on the saltier side)
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- For serving: tortillas, guacamole, sour cream, shredded cheese
Mix olive oil and spices to make marinade.
Add chicken to the marinade, mix, and marinate at least 1 hour (in fridge).
Heat pan, add a little olive oil, once hot add chicken and cook about 8 mins (turning about half way so they cook evenly) until no longer pink. Also, cooking time depends on how thick the chicken strips are, thinner = less time. Once done cooking squeeze some fresh lime if you like.
Serve with tortillas, guacamole, sour cream and/or shredded cheese.
Briza Ramirez, Store Support Manager
Sopa de Fideo
- 8 oz. package of fideos (You can substitute with thin spaghetti, vermicelli noodles, or angel hair pasta broken into 1inch pieces if you cannot find fideos – we do carry fideos at the Co-op)
- 3 very ripe tomatoes (Roma or Plum but any tomato will work)
- ¼ white onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 cube of chicken bouillon or equivalent (you can also use a vegan vegetable cube)
- 6 cups of water or broth
- Salt to taste
- Vegetable oil
Cut the tomatoes in half. Puree the tomatoes, onion, bouillon, 2 cups of water/broth and garlic in the blender. Set aside.
In a pan, preheat 3 tbsp. of vegetable oil to medium-hot. Add the noodles and stir to coat with oil. Continue stirring until the fideo pasta has turned golden brown and a few strands have turned deep brown. Browning the noodles adds depth of flavor to the soup. When the noodles are browned, add the reserved mixture and add the remaining 4 cups of water/broth and stir. Bring the soup to a boil at medium heat and then cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes or until the pasta is soft but not mushy. Adjust with salt to taste.
You can garnish with queso fresco, avocado cubes, and my favorite, pickled jalapeños.
Red Tomatillo Salsa
- ¾ lb of tomatillos (husks removed and washed)
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- ½ white onion
- 10 Chile de Arbol peppers for a spicy sauce, 5 if you want it mild
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
Place tomatillos, onion and garlic in a medium heat skillet. Keep turning your tomatillos and garlic to get an even roast until they are soft and roasted, about 18 to 20 minutes. However, garlic cloves will roast faster so remove them and add to your blender or food processor after just a few minutes.
In a separate skillet or over the open fire, toast the chile de arbol peppers as evenly as possible. It takes about a minute. Make sure to not burn them or your sauce will have a bitter taste. Remove the stems once they are roasted..
Process tomatillos, onion, peppers, garlic and salt in a blender until a slightly chunky sauce forms. You can add some water in case it is needed and if you want it on the smoother side. This salsa will last up to 3 days refrigerated in an airtight container.
Pozole Estilo Jalisco
- 2 1/2 lb stewing pork
- 2 lb pork neck bones (call ahead and ask for the Meat Department to determine availability)
- 8 cloves fresh garlic
- 1/2 medium white onion, finely diced
- 2 cans hominy 28 oz, you can use yellow or white (but if you can find purple, you should give that a try!)
- 3 Chiles Anchos, deveined and soaked in hot water until softened
- 1 very ripe tomato
- 2 Chiles de arbol, toasted (optional)
- 1/2 sm green cabbage, finely sliced
- ½ med onion, finely diced
- 1 bunch radishes, round slices
- Limes, cut into wedges
- Hot sauce (Chile de arbol based)
Trim off excess fat of stewing pork and pork neck bones. Cut into 2-3 inch pieces if possible. Place in a large bowel with cold water and rinse well.
Place meat in a 6qt pan and cover with cold water. Water level must be approx. 6 inches above submerged meat. Add onion, 4 garlic cloves and salt (1 to 2 tablespoons) to the pot.
Bring to a fast and hard boil,then reduce heat to a gentle boil. After approx. 15 min of gentle boiling. remove and scoop off the gray foam that has appeared on the top. And taste for salt, if more is needed, add to your taste and boil the meat for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until meat is tender.
Open the cans of hominy and drain the liquid. Give it a quick rinse, reserve half a cup of the hominy, and add the hominy to the broth.
In a blender mix the chiles anchos, the remaining 4 garlic cloves, some salt, the ½ cup of hominy, 1 cup of the meat broth and the tomato. If you want your pozole spicy add the chile the arbol as well, otherwise you can omit it. Blend until smooth. Be careful when blending with the hot broth as this can cause pressure in the blender.
Add the sauce into the pot and let everything simmer for 30 more minutes.
Serve the pozole in a bowl, and garnish with cabbage, onion, radishes. Serve on the side lime wedges and tostadas.
Christine Ciganovich, Marketing Specialist/cooking class instructor
In truth, this is Christine’s great-grandmother, Ofelia’s, recipe.
- 12 oz. long grain white rice
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 6 oz. tomato sauce
- 1 ¾ cups no salt veggie broth
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic salt
- ½ cup slices green onions (green and white parts)
Combine rice and oil in a pot with a well fitting lid. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring very frequently, until the rice is turning golden brown and smells nutty.
Add remaining ingredients and stir. Turn heat up to bring to a simmer. Once bubbling, put on the lid, turn heat all the way to low, and cook for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and leave the lid on for an additional 10 minutes to finish steaming. Fluff with a fork and serve.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 12 corn tortillas, cut in half and then into 1-inch strips
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 38 oz. Las Palmas Red Chile Sauce (1 large can plus 1 small can)
- 2 cups shredded Jack and cheddar cheeses
- For Serving: cotija cheese, sour cream, avocado slices, fried eggs, black olives, pickled jalapeno
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Heat oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add tortilla strips and fry until the edges are lightly browned and crispy. Pour sauce over tortilla strips. Add green onions and 3/4 of the cheese. Stir to ensure all tortilla strips are evenly soaked with sauce and the cheese and green onions are well incorporated.
Transfer to casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese over everything. Bake for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melty.
Serve as is or with all the toppings.
Each year, the Co-op donates $0.10 for every pound of apples sold over the course of a year through our “Apple-a-Day” program. With 61,959 lbs of apples sold from July 2022 – June 2023, we were left with $6,196 to donate to a local organization.
For this year’s donation, we have chosen Ujamaa Farmer Collective
as our recipient.
as our recipient.
The $6,196 donation will directly support the Collective’s fundraising efforts to “build a Black-led, BIPOC-centered agriculture business cooperative committed to providing long-term, affordable land access for multiple existing BIPOC farmers/ranchers struggling with land security” here in Yolo County. In this blog we will tell you more about the vision of the Ujamaa Farmer Collective and how you can help them achieve their goals.
Ujamaa Farmer Collective Leadership Team
(pictured from left to right):
Keith Hudson (Grocery Croppers, LLC),
Brian Pinkney (We Grow Urban Farm),
Nathaniel Brown (Brown Sugar Farm),
Nelson Hawkins (We Grow Urban Farm)
To best understand these goals, we must first consider some historical context. In 1910, around 14% of farmers* in the US were Black and they owned more than 16 million acres across the country. Today only around 1% of US farmers are Black while nearly 95% are White. Many factors over the past 100 years have led to such a sharp decline.
* It should be noted that “farmer” is also known as “producer” in these counts and consists of a farm’s owner, a member of the owner’s family, a manager, a tenant, a renter, or a sharecropper and does not include the employees (known as farmworkers).
Since the early 20th century, Black farmers have faced a long history of injustices including unequal access to credit and federal aid. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has faced multiple lawsuits, including the landmark case of Pigford v. Glickman in 1999, for its history of discriminatory practices that have limited Black farmers’ abilities to invest in their farms and acquire land. Compounding these economic challenges, many Black farmers deal with the complex issue of heirs’ property – a form of land ownership that arises when a landowner dies without a will, leading to the vulnerable division of property amongst the deceased’s heirs. This precarious situation resulted in a 90% decline in Black-owned farmland nationwide between 1910 and 1997, resulting in an estimated capital loss of $326 billion . In addition to these systemic inequities, Black landowners have also faced intimidation, violence, and illegal land seizures, all furthering the gap in land access for Black farmers.
Enter the Ujamaa Farmer Collective. Meaning “fraternity or familyhood” in Swahili, the term “Ujamaa” is the fourth principle of Kwanzaa created through cooperative economics as a practice of shared social wealth and the work necessary to achieve it.This is at the root of what the Ujamaa Farmer Collective hopes to achieve. Created by a compassionate group of advocates within the CDFA BIPOC Advisory Committee, the Collective has been created to work towards addressing the challenge of land tenure amongst historically underserved farmers.
Built upon the work of AB 1348: The Farmer Equity Act, the Collective notes in a blog on the Kitchen Table Advisors website that their focus is “to provide land for BIPOC farm businesses to steward through long-term, affordable leases. These leasing opportunities, ranging from ½ acre to 20-acre plots owned by the collective, will enable existing farm business owners to grow their operations on secure land parcels. The collective also aims to provide on-site housing for the farmers, allowing these business owners to fully immerse themselves in their farms while also raising and tending to their families”
The Collective has already successfully advocated for state funding to acquire a 50-100 acre parcel of land in Yolo County and recently attained counsel to aid them in establishing their 501(c)(3). They have raised $1.25 million towards their campaign goal of $2.5 million so far and are working with Possibility Labs as their fiscal sponsor to make this dream a reality. The work to choose and develop a site is underway as they continue to fundraise to build these equitable opportunities for Black and BIPOC farmers. While the Collective has made great progress, and the Co-op is happy to contribute towards that progress, the work is far from complete to reach their campaign goal of $2.5 million. That is where we are calling on our Co-op community to help support these continued efforts.
As a co-op in our community for the past 50 years, we know the power of collective effort to make changes in our local food systems. In recognizing that, we must also recognize that the changes that our co-op has influenced during that time have largely benefitted only White communities. As noted in an article on the Cool Davis website, supporting this project “is a once in a generation opportunity to do something well within our grasp that will have a significant positive impact right here at home. The impact will reverberate in all aspects of Yolo county racial equity lived experience, in our sustainable food system, in the resilience of our community”.
In conversations about environmental sustainability, it’s common for plastic to play the part as a universal villain.
Indeed, the harmful environmental impacts of plastic pollution are well-documented and significant. And while we spend the month of July recognizing Plastic Free July with calls to reduce our reliance on plastic, it’s critical to remember that the ability to completely avoid plastic consumption is a privilege that not everyone shares.
Plastic pollution not only disproportionately affects marginalized communities, it also greatly affects their ability to reduce plastic use due to socioeconomic circumstances. Undeniably, plastic has been so deeply woven into the fabric of our societies because it’s cheap, durable, and convenient. Because of this, communities in economically distressed regions often depend on plastic for its accessibility and affordability. To expect these communities to prioritize plastic reduction over immediate economic concerns is not only unfair, but also unfeasible.
This begs us to question – Who truly has the ability to avoid plastic use? The answer shouldn’t be surprising. Those who are best suited to afford to live a plastic-free lifestyle typically enjoy a certain level of economic stability and live in environments where plastic-free alternatives are readily available. They have the privilege to make this choice – a choice that is not universally accessible.
This is not a justification for complacency. Rather, it is a call to broaden our understanding and work towards true inclusive sustainability. Just as with our discussions on climate change and its disproportionate effects on marginalized groups, the dialogue on plastic consumption should also include its social and economic dimensions.
The discourse around plastic use reduction must include plastic-free options that are affordable and accessible to all communities. Green initiatives need to extend their reach beyond the privileged and include those on the front lines of plastic consumption. And most importantly, we should never shame people who make the decision to purchase plastic products. While we may be in a position to avoid plastic consumption, it is unfair to assume that everyone has that same luxury.
Inclusion is a key to a truly sustainable future. This blog serves as an invitation for us to widen our lens and recognize the privilege inherent in our consumption choices. It calls upon us to be advocates for change not just in our actions, but in our understanding of sustainability and the challenges faced by others in achieving it. The pursuit of sustainability should not be a luxury, but a necessity, and it must be done so through a process that holds those in power accountable so that it can be a pursuit that includes us all.
There are many excellent organizations that work at the intersection of environmental justice and social equity. Here are a few that you can learn more about:
Green For All is an organization that fights for a world that is green for all, not green for some. They work at the intersection of the environmental, economic, and racial justice movements to advance solutions to poverty and pollution.
The Sierra Club’s Environmental Justice Program, one of the oldest environmental organizations in the U.S., has a program specifically dedicated to promoting environmental justice and reducing health disparities by engaging leaders in communities that are most affected by pollution.
WE ACT for Environmental Justice’s mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that People of Color and/or low income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices.
Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders aims to serve as a resource to increase the capacity of philanthropy to support just and sustainable food and agriculture systems. They offer various resources and avenues for involvement.
Indigenous Environmental Network was established by grassroots Indigenous peoples to address environmental and economic justice issues, and to empower Indigenous communities towards sustainable livelihoods and preserving their cultures.
Our society should work for everyone
This should not be as lofty of a goal as it is made out to be. And yet, this simple idea must work through a web of institutional failures that we are tasked with undoing and fixing in order to become a reality. This work requires, among many other aspects, a firm commitment to democracy on both a national and local level.
A strong democratic society ensures that all voices are heard, resources are allocated equitably and decisions are made in the best interest of the entire community instead of just a select few. The ways in which a community can uphold democracy are extensive. Quality education and information sharing, political representation that reflects the identity of the community, and open public forums that encourage healthy debate are a few of the examples that may come to mind first. In addition, (and we may be biased on this) one of the most effective ways for a community to practice democracy is through the building and sustaining of local cooperatives.
Cooperatives (aka co-ops) are community-owned and operated groups and businesses that are democratic by nature. Whether they are a consumer, producer, agricultural, worker, housing, or any other type of co-op, their democratic processes prioritize shared decision-making which ultimately creates a more equitable distribution of resources. By giving Members/Owners a say in how the business or group is run, cooperatives ensure that the community’s needs are met in a way that benefits everyone in the collective.
Consumer grocery co-ops (like us!), in particular, can play a significant role in keeping communities democratic. These stores not only provide access to fresh, local, and healthy food, they operate under a cooperative model that give Owners a say in how the business is run, ensuring that it always serves the needs of the community. This means that a grocery co-op can be more than just a grocery store; it can be a pillar in their city that makes decisions around philanthropy, sustainable practices, inclusion, and more that help define the community in a way that traditional corporations often cannot, or will not.
As a community-owned store that started as a buying club in 1972, the Davis Food Co-op is proud to play a significant role in promoting democracy and equity throughout our organization as well as in the City of Davis and Yolo County at large. We believe that democracy is an essential part of establishing a just and equitable society and we know that process begins in our own community. By giving our Owners the ability to vote and run for our Board of Directors, we ensure that the entire community’s needs are addressed in the business decisions that we make. By promoting shared decision-making and a commitment to the greater good, our co-op can continue to build a future where our community works to serve everyone and can hopefully inspire others to strive for more control over their resources and decision-making as well.
As of the posting of this blog on 5/11/23, we are currently in the process of our Annual Elections. From now until 5/20/23, Davis Food Co-op Owners have the opportunity to vote online for three new Board Members as well as four new Round Up at the Register recipients. To sweeten the deal even more this year, we will be raffling off a $100 gift card to a lucky Owner simply for voting. For more information, visit our Elections page here.
Not yet an Owner but want to learn how you can become one? Visit us in store at the Customer Service Desk or at our Ownership page here.
Today is Cesar Chavez Day, a federally recognized holiday honoring a champion for social justice and advocate for the farmworkers who sustain our Nation.
Cesar Estrada Chavez (March 31, 1927 – April 23, 1993) was a Mexican American labor leader and civil rights activist who dedicated his life’s work to what he called La Causa (the cause): the struggle of farmworkers in the United States to improve their working and living conditions through organizing and negotiating contracts with their employers. Committed to the tactics of nonviolent resistance practiced by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., Chavez co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (later becoming the United Farm Workers) and won important victories to raise pay and improve working conditions for farmworkers in the late 1960s and 1970s.
Most famously known for his strike against California’s grape growers*, Cesar Chavez asked Americans to boycott the popular fruit because of the meager pay and poor working conditions farmworkers were forced to endure. In 1970, after five years of the Delano grape strike, farmworkers won a contract promising better pay and benefits. A few years later, their efforts led to the passage of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, which established collective-bargaining power for farmworkers statewide.
*While Cesar Chavez continues to get credit for starting the strike, it was actually Larry Itliong, a Filipino-American organizer, who led a group of Filipino-American grape workers to first strike in September 1965. (Larry Itliong is pictured in the bottom picture, in the center)
“The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.”
Farmworkers are among the poorest workers in the United States. Hazardous conditions are routine and include pesticide exposure, heat stress, lack of shade, and inadequate drinking water. Not to mention the discrimination tactics and abuse they receive from their employers.
In order to feed the country, over two million farmworkers labor on farms across the United States. They handpick the vast majority of fruit and vegetable crops produced here making them the backbone of our $200 billion agricultural industry.
It is the great paradox of our food system: the very people who work to feed the U.S. struggle to feed their own families.
Fast forward to August 3rd, 2022 where a historical, 24-day long march began where Farmworkers and Farmworker advocates marched 335 miles, starting from Delano, California and ending at the Sacramento State Capitol; The same march Cesar Chavez did in 1966.
This march was to get the attention of Governor Gavin Newsom and convince him to sign AB 2183, the Agricultural Labor Relations Voting Choice Act. This bill would give Farmworkers the right to vote for a union, free from intimidation and threats, allowing them to vote in secret whenever and wherever they felt safe.
With just two days to spare, Governor Newsom signed the Farmworker Bill AB 2183, on September 28th, 2022.
While there hasn’t been much of an update on the AB 2183 bill, as it just went into effect as of January 1st, 2023, below are some events that have taken place recently with farmworkers.
California Governor Recently Vetoed Farmworker Bill
In December 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed the California Farmworkers Drought Resilience Pilot Program, which would have offered farmworkers, many of whom have lost work hours due to the drought, $1,000 a month of supplemental pay from 2023 through 2026. And unlike all other social safety net programs, there would be no immigration status or eligibility requirements, meaning that undocumented farmworkers, who account for an estimated 50% of farmworkers, could receive funds.
New AEWR Wage Effect Final Rule protects Farmworkers
What is currently a very controversial topic amongst those in the agriculture industry, The Department of Labor recently amended it’s regulations governing the certification of agricultural labor or services to be performed by temporary foreign workers in H–2A nonimmigrant status. Specifically, the Department is revising the methodology by which it determines the hourly Adverse Effect Wage Rates (AEWRs) for non-range occupations (i.e., all occupations other than herding and production of livestock on the range).
This rule follows the Trump Administration’s AEWR rule which was blocked by the UFW and UFW Foundation’s successful lawsuits against the Trump Administration. The Trump Administration’s proposal to reduce the AEWR would have threatened the jobs of countless domestic farmworkers and pushed those willing to accept the below-market wages even further into poverty. According to Farmworker Justice, blocking the Trump AEWR rule saved farmworkers an estimated $500 million in wages over the course of 2021 and 2022.
This newly amended rule goes into effect on March 30th, 2023.
California’s Late Winter Storm Events
California is responsible for producing 1/3 of the nation’s vegetables and nearly 2/3 of the nation’s fruits and nuts.
While this should be the busiest time for farmworkers, California has been receiving back-to-back rounds of Atmospheric Rivers(long, narrow bands of air that can carry water vapor for thousands of miles) since December 2022 (14 so far) that have decimated crops and flooded entire communities; severely reducing work opportunities for many of the state’s farmworkers, who lack social safety nets. One representative with the United Farm Workers estimated “workers have lost up to two months of income.”
47 counties are currently under a State of Emergency. In Monterey County alone, one of the largest produce producers in California, the most current report of agricultural losses is exceeding $450.5 million.
On top of dealing with loss of work, farmworkers are also dealing with the loss and/or severe damages to their homes and vehicles. An if there is work available for farmworkers, the weather means harvesting crops in more dangerous conditions. For Ventura farmworker Octavio Diaz, he recently injured his right leg trying to pull it out from deep, sticky mud. “I kept working after I hurt my leg because we sustain ourselves by working in the farms. We don’t have other sources of income. You have to work to be able to support your family.”
With devastating disasters like this, few have access to emergency relief or government assistance. Language barriers and immigration status being some of the biggest reasons.
California Governor, Gavin Newsom, visited Parajo on March 15th, after a levee burst on the Parajo River, flooding the entire community. He had promised relief, telling residents that “no other state does more for farmworkers.” He stated that there would be an “immediate response” from Biden, and that FEMA aid would be coming to Pajaro as soon as his office put in a request for a major disaster declaration. It wasnt until March 28th that the governor’s office had finally submitted a request for that declaration.
“When the man who feeds the world by toiling in the fields is himself deprived of the basic rights of feeding, sheltering and caring for his own family, the whole community of man is sick.”- Cesar Chavez
Cesar may have passed away over 3 decades ago, but his legacy is still alive wherever farmworkers organize and stand up nonviolently for their rights.
We can continue to honor Cesar Chavez’s work by taking the following actions:
1. Educate yourself and others: Learn about the issues that farmworkers face and educate others about their struggles. This can include reading books, sharing articles, documentaries, and other resources on social media, and engaging in conversations with friends and family.
2. Support fair labor practices: Support fair labor practices by buying products from businesses(like the Co-op!) that support fair labor standards and treat their workers with respect and dignity. This includes supporting unionization efforts and advocating for policies that protect workers’ rights.
3. Volunteer: Volunteer with organizations that support farmworkers’ rights and work to improve their working conditions. These organizations provide a range of services, including legal aid, advocacy, and support for workers’ families.
4. Advocate for policy change: Advocate for policy change at the local, state, and national levels that supports farmworkers’ rights and improves their working conditions. This includes supporting legislation that protects workers from exploitation and ensures fair wages and safe working conditions.
5. Support farmworker-led organizations: Support farmworker-led organizations that are working to improve the lives of farmworkers and advocate for their rights.
Black people became the fastest growing vegan demographic in the country in 2022. It’s no wonder then that Black vegan chefs are expanding the boundaries of both Black and vegan cuisine in the US, with aims to practice a veganism that uplifts people and planet.
Veganism as environmental justice as racial justice
Let’s explore some of the reasons why Black folks and Black chefs are turning to veganism.
But first, let’s talk about intersectionality. Intersectionality is a relatively new concept in Western thought and describes “the ways in which systems of inequality based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, class and other forms of discrimination ‘intersect’ to create unique dynamics and effects.”
For example, Black Americans are more likely to live in food deserts than white Americans. Is race the sole determining factor? Most certainly not. We know that food deserts are also more likely in communities with small populations, lower incomes, low levels of education, and higher rates of unemployment. Using the intersectional approach, we can see then that race, socio-economic status, education level, and other dimensions of identity overlap here to create and sustain a system in which certain folks seriously lack access to healthy, fresh, and affordable foods.
So, veganism, environmental justice and racial justice…intersect? Yes they do! Let’s look at exactly how. Take one common reason for going vegan: reducing cruelty and harm to animals. You’ve done away with meat, dairy, eggs, honey, cheese and you’re filling your shopping cart with so many vegetables. Before you check out, consider: Was the Latinx farmworker who harvested your food paid a fair wage? Do they work in safe conditions? Does the farmer own the DNA inside the seeds they plant or does a chemical company? Were the fields sprayed with pesticides that will end up in our rivers and oceans? If you don’t know, can you really say your veganism reduces cruelty?
While there are many individual health benefits to eating more plants, going vegan is also an opportunity to engage more deeply with the social, political and environmental sides of what we eat. For the Black community, which is disproportionately affected by climate change and health conditions associated with racism, many see veganism as an opportunity to fight against these inequalities.
We should also mention that communities in Asia, Latin America, and Africa have been “eating vegan” – plant-based – for thousands of years. Trendy vegan foods like quinoa and sweet potatoes made popular by wealthy, white social media influencers have been staple crops for millions across recorded time. In fact, these days non-white Americans are more likely to be vegetarian or vegan than white Americans.
Okay, now let’s meet some of the Black vegan chefs changing the game.
Tracye McQuirter earned her Masters in Public Health from NYU and has over 36 years of experience eating and cooking vegan. She directed the first federally funded, community-based vegan nutrition program; co-created the first vegan-themed website specifically for Black Americans; launched the first Black American vegan starter guide; wrote two vegan how-to/recipe books; and previously served as a nutrition advisor for Black Women’s Health Imperative. Purchase her cookbooks and guides here.
Aisha “Pinky” Cole
Aisha Cole is the brilliance behind Atlanta’s Slutty Vegan restaurant which regularly attracts an hour-long line of folks dreaming of her incredible vegan burgers at accessible prices. She opened the first Slutty Vegan in the majority Black neighborhood of West End, where there were previously zero plant based options. When Cole isn’t running multiple locations throughout Georgia or hosting Slutty Vegan pop-ups around the country, she’s donating funds to help local college students pay off their debts and stay in school.
Yes, Bryant Terry is a big deal. He’s won a James Beard Award and Fast Company named him one of 9 People Who Are Changing the Future of Food. He has also worked as Chef-in-Residence at San Francisco’s Museum of African Diaspora, authored best-selling cookbooks, and founded 4 Color Books, an imprint creating visually stunning books with BIPOC chefs and writers. In other words, he’s a fierce food justice advocate.