Beyond Obesity: Reframing Food Justice with Body Love by TC Duong

Oakland has been at the forefront of what many would call the food justice movement – a movement to ensure that disenfranchised communities have power over they foods they produce, sell and eat.  Organizations like People’s Grocery have led the way in identifying the intersections between race, income and health.  Phat Beets Produce and City Slicker Farms have been innovators in community-led urban gardening.

Being in one of the centers of food justice work has been exciting but as someone who has also been involved in body acceptance movement, I find myself increasingly uncomfortable with the frame of obesity prevention as a justification some use to enter this great work.  Many groups doing this work have to apply for funding (such as Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move) that frames food access as obesity prevention.  Researcher Linda Bacon coined the term “Health at Every Size” to challenge ideas that weight loss is desirable for everyone and I wanted to think further about the impact of the framework of obesity prevention of food justice and communities of color.  That’s when I read Sonya Renee’s post  Weight Stigma in Diverse Populations.

Sonya-Renee-Taylor-2

By stating “Our society tells us fatness is not beautiful.  Blackness is historically, not beautiful.  So even while battling weight stigma and reclaiming size diversity as beautiful, the presence of Blackness complicates the narrative,” Sonya Renee names the very real intersection between marginalization of women of size and black women.  Performance Poet, Activist and transformational leader, Sonya Renee is a National and International poetry slam champion, published author, and change maker.  As the founder and CEO of the The Body is Not An Apology, she is working to promote an international movement focused on radical self love and body empowerment. I asked Sonya more about the impact of the obesity prevention frame on food justice work.  Her responses are eye opening.

There are a lot of well-meaning people trying to do right by their communities by working on “food justice.”  Does that have relevance to size acceptance and body love?  Where do you see the intersections?  

I think food justice absolutely has relevance to size acceptance and body love or what The Body is Not An Apology calls Radical Self Love.  Radical Self Love is about being an advocate for your own well-being, your body and then allowing that advocacy to demand those things that aid well-being.  Asking for healthy food and access to nutrition is without question an element of radical self-love.  Also, when we think about who has access to good grocery stores, nutritious choices in their communities; we must look at the ways body impacts that.  There is a racial aspect that must be named which is about what bodies are valued and cared for systemically and which we do not. Those observations lead us directly to the way we further disenfranchise bodies of color, fat bodies, poor bodies.  Food justice is about ensuring all bodies have access and autonomy over their bodies.

How do community activists combat the obesity frame in public health, especially related to black communities?  There’s some real dollars attached to doing food justice as “combating obesity.”

I think it is essential to talk about the intersections of discrimination.  Asking how is a framework that makes someone’s body “wrong” an act of public health? We must ask who benefits from a war against people’s bodies.  Does it benefit communities to be at war with their bodies?  Does it benefit large people to view their bodies as a thing they must fight?  If the benefit is not to the communities we serve then what makes the model a justice movement?  Given that there are actual health indicators that can be assessed without size and size actually is not valid indicator of health unto itself, it is completely possible to talk about health without pathologizing bodies.  I also challenge public health professionals to be honest about the mental health aspects of having society be at war with your body or teaching people to be at war with themselves which is the translation of “combating obesity.”  Anything that reinforces inequity, bigotry, prejudice or shame IS NOT a justice movement.  Food justice work that does not include dismantling weight stigma in my opinion is not a justice movement.

There’s a lot of momentum around promoting health in marginalized communities (i.e. Michelle Obama’s work) but with the frame of ending obesity.  What frame would you recommend using to address what are real problems of accessibility for food and recreation?

I often just sit with the idea that the “ending obesity” paradigm is actually saying “we want to end Fat People.”  There simply is no health promotion in that framework.  The Body is Not An Apology operates from the framework that says injustice starts in many ways from the inability to make peace with the body, our own and others.  From that premise, the issue of promoting health is not about the failure of the body but the failure of our society to protect and care for EVERY BODY equally and the ways in which we as individuals and communities have internalized that lack of care.  If we cared for each person in our society we would have those things that are required for basic human sustainability in all communities.  We would have grocery stores with affordable healthy options; we would have playgrounds and recreation in all communities.  If we did not have recreation due to community violence we would be addressing and healing community violence.  We would be ensuring our media replicated images of all members of society in nuanced, dynamic, psychological healthy ways.  If we were using an intersectional community care model we would be addressing the myriad ways we could better care for each other and for ourselves.

How do we incorporate the historical analysis of the commodification of black bodies into our work as food justice advocates?

Understanding the commodification of black bodies helps understand why there is little investment in our community’s well-being and health.  I think it would also help black people understand how their demand to be treated humanely via Food Justice is as vital as the Civil Rights movement, abolition movement etc.  The value of black bodies was directly tied to unpaid labor.  When that unpaid labor was no longer a resource, we saw a complete divestment in the lives of black people.  Now that the commodification of black bodies comes via the criminal justice system there is an absolute necessity to foster the disrepair of black communities. The commodification depends on us growing up in such a way that increases our likelihood of engaging in criminal activity.  That is shown time and again to be directly tied to poverty and not having one’s basic needs met.  Food justice is about ensuring that all communities have their basic needs met so that they might thrive. The treatment of people in such communities is an illustration of the difference between commodifying bodies and valuing bodies. Food Justice is about demanding our bodies be valued!

Finally, how do we make the shift from shame and blame to love?

The question I ask that gets me to the answer of that question is always about who does blame and shame serve?  How does blame and shame make a world that creates positivity and possibility?  I reject the notion that there is some way that my body can be wrong.  And if there is nothing wrong with my body then there is no place for blame or shame.  From this space I can focus on how I can better LOVE my body and how I can better advocate that the world support me, my family, and my community in growing that love.

Written and Posted with permission from TC Duong

Thanks to TC for allowing us to share this wonderful article!  —First Read and Found on Oakland Local —

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Beyond Obesity: Reframing Food Justice with Body Love « Oakland …

Oakland has been at the forefront of what many would call the food justice movement – a movement to ensure that disenfranchised communities have power over they foods they produce, sell and eat.  Organizations like People’s Grocery have led the way in identifying the intersections between race, income and health.  Phat Beets Produce and City Slicker Farms have been innovators in community-led urban gardening.

Being in one of the centers of food justice work has been exciting but as someone who has also been involved in body acceptance movement, I find myself increasingly uncomfortable with the frame of obesity prevention as a justification some use to enter this great work.  Many groups doing this work have to apply for funding (such as Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move) that frames food access as obesity prevention.  Researcher Linda Bacon coined the term “Health at Every Size” to challenge ideas that weight loss is desirable for everyone and I wanted to think further about the impact of the framework of obesity prevention of food justice and communities of color.  That’s when I read Sonya Renee’s post  Weight Stigma in Diverse Populations.

Sonya-Renee-Taylor-2

By stating “Our society tells us fatness is not beautiful.  Blackness is historically, not beautiful.  So even while battling weight stigma and reclaiming size diversity as beautiful, the presence of Blackness complicates the narrative,” Sonya Renee names the very real intersection between marginalization of women of size and black women.  Performance Poet, Activist and transformational leader, Sonya Renee is a National and International poetry slam champion, published author, and change maker.  As the founder and CEO of the The Body is Not An Apology, she is working to promote an international movement focused on radical self love and body empowerment. I asked Sonya more about the impact of the obesity prevention frame on food justice work.  Her responses are eye opening.

There are a lot of well-meaning people trying to do right by their communities by working on “food justice.”  Does that have relevance to size acceptance and body love?  Where do you see the intersections?  

I think food justice absolutely has relevance to size acceptance and body love or what The Body is Not An Apology calls Radical Self Love.  Radical Self Love is about being an advocate for your own well-being, your body and then allowing that advocacy to demand those things that aid well-being.  Asking for healthy food and access to nutrition is without question an element of radical self-love.  Also, when we think about who has access to good grocery stores, nutritious choices in their communities; we must look at the ways body impacts that.  There is a racial aspect that must be named which is about what bodies are valued and cared for systemically and which we do not. Those observations lead us directly to the way we further disenfranchise bodies of color, fat bodies, poor bodies.  Food justice is about ensuring all bodies have access and autonomy over their bodies.

How do community activists combat the obesity frame in public health, especially related to black communities?  There’s some real dollars attached to doing food justice as “combating obesity.”

I think it is essential to talk about the intersections of discrimination.  Asking how is a framework that makes someone’s body “wrong” an act of public health? We must ask who benefits from a war against people’s bodies.  Does it benefit communities to be at war with their bodies?  Does it benefit large people to view their bodies as a thing they must fight?  If the benefit is not to the communities we serve then what makes the model a justice movement?  Given that there are actual health indicators that can be assessed without size and size actually is not valid indicator of health unto itself, it is completely possible to talk about health without pathologizing bodies.  I also challenge public health professionals to be honest about the mental health aspects of having society be at war with your body or teaching people to be at war with themselves which is the translation of “combating obesity.”  Anything that reinforces inequity, bigotry, prejudice or shame IS NOT a justice movement.  Food justice work that does not include dismantling weight stigma in my opinion is not a justice movement.

There’s a lot of momentum around promoting health in marginalized communities (i.e. Michelle Obama’s work) but with the frame of ending obesity.  What frame would you recommend using to address what are real problems of accessibility for food and recreation? 

I often just sit with the idea that the “ending obesity” paradigm is actually saying “we want to end Fat People.”  There simply is no health promotion in that framework.  The Body is Not An Apology operates from the framework that says injustice starts in many ways from the inability to make peace with the body, our own and others.  From that premise, the issue of promoting health is not about the failure of the body but the failure of our society to protect and care for EVERY BODY equally and the ways in which we as individuals and communities have internalized that lack of care.  If we cared for each person in our society we would have those things that are required for basic human sustainability in all communities.  We would have grocery stores with affordable healthy options; we would have playgrounds and recreation in all communities.  If we did not have recreation due to community violence we would be addressing and healing community violence.  We would be ensuring our media replicated images of all members of society in nuanced, dynamic, psychological healthy ways.  If we were using an intersectional community care model we would be addressing the myriad ways we could better care for each other and for ourselves.

How do we incorporate the historical analysis of the commodification of black bodies into our work as food justice advocates?

Understanding the commodification of black bodies helps understand why there is little investment in our community’s well-being and health.  I think it would also help black people understand how their demand to be treated humanely via Food Justice is as vital as the Civil Rights movement, abolition movement etc.  The value of black bodies was directly tied to unpaid labor.  When that unpaid labor was no longer a resource, we saw a complete divestment in the lives of black people.  Now that the commodification of black bodies comes via the criminal justice system there is an absolute necessity to foster the disrepair of black communities. The commodification depends on us growing up in such a way that increases our likelihood of engaging in criminal activity.  That is shown time and again to be directly tied to poverty and not having one’s basic needs met.  Food justice is about ensuring that all communities have their basic needs met so that they might thrive. The treatment of people in such communities is an illustration of the difference between commodifying bodies and valuing bodies. Food Justice is about demanding our bodies be valued!

Finally, how do we make the shift from shame and blame to love?

The question I ask that gets me to the answer of that question is always about who does blame and shame serve?  How does blame and shame make a world that creates positivity and possibility?  I reject the notion that there is some way that my body can be wrong.  And if there is nothing wrong with my body then there is no place for blame or shame.  From this space I can focus on how I can better LOVE my body and how I can better advocate that the world support me, my family, and my community in growing that love.

NatureBox chews on $8.5M to tackle obesity epidemic with healthier …

Snacks are helping make America fat. Most snack food in America is junk, loaded with empty calories, salt, sugar, and unhealthy oils, and once you open that bag of chips or box of cookies, it’s hard to stop.

NatureBox is addressing this issue with an online subscription service for healthier snack food. Today the company announced closing $8.5 million to make eating well in-between meals easier.

NatureBox delivers boxes filled with nutritionist-approved healthy snacks every month for $20. Each box contains five full-sized snack items, free from high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats, and artificial sweeteners, flavors, and colors. NatureBox produces all the food itself and gets ingredients from local growers and independent food producers. The assortment generally includes a range of sweet and salty snacks based on a seasonal theme. Treats include various kinds of granolas, trail mixes, fruit and vegetable chips, and nut- and seed-based snacks.

“We started NatureBox to disrupt the grocery industry that has devolved into a sea of too many choices,” said CEO Gautam Gupta to VentureBeat. “We think having more items on shelf isn’t the answer to consumer needs – we believe that through data, we can create a much more personal shopping experience for consumers and give consumers products that they will love.”

Market research firm IRI found that 49 percent of the population has one to two snacks a day while 43 percent have three to four, and 60 percent of consumers snack for enjoyment. Whether it is to satisfy hunger, boost energy, out of boredom, or in a social setting, Americans consume almost 25 percent of their daily calories from snacking, and most of these foods consist of empty calories. Snacking is a major cause of childhood obesity, which has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. One-third of children and adolescents are overweight and obese in the U.S.

While unhealthy snacks contribute to weight gain, healthy snacks are part of an overall healthy diet. Health experts have found that small, nutritious snacks speed up your metabolism and curb hunger and consumers are growing more aware of how to eat well.  THe IRI study found that 87 percent of consumers said they are trying to eat healthier, and sales for natural and organic snacks are on the rise. This is where NatureBox steps in. If you are going to snack, might as well get some actual nutrients while you are at it.

Food startups are beginning to tackle how we eat from various angles. Love with Food, Pop-Up Pantry, Hello Fresh, and Hungry Globetrotter all deliver food to your door. Some streamline grocery shopping, and others make home cooking easier.

Since launching in 2012, NatureBox has shipped 50,000 boxes to its customers and is on track to ship over 1 million annual shipments by the end of this year. It is adding in five to 10 new products a month and currently offers 80 items. Its business model seems difficult to scale, since the supply chain requires actually finding, manufacturing, packing, and delivering consumer goods.  This round of funding will help NatureBox expand its customer base and meet demand for the service.

General Catalyst Partners led this first institutional round, following an initial seed investment last year. New investor Softbank Capital also participated. This brings NatureBox’s total capital raised to $10.5 million. It is based in San Carlos, Calif.

Jake Gyllenhaal turns Cupid and believes everyone has time for love

Hot on the heels of his involvement in the Edible Schoolyard project, Jake Gyllenhaal is turning his hand to the role of love archer as he discusses the prospect of future relationships and how everyone has time for love.

Gyllenhaal is a relaxed character who seems to glide through life without much concern and despite his roguish handsomeness, the Hollywood heartthrob has his heart is in the right place and he clearly cares about the world he lives in.

Jake Gyllenhaal believes everyone has time for love

He may still quietly be licking the wounds from the fallout of his relationship with Taylor Swift, from whom he separated in January this year but the end of that romance hasn’t deterred him from future adventures in the realm of love.

While many people fail to understand why the enigmatic star of such fare as Donnie Darko and Brokeback Mountain is still single, he looks to be biding his time until he meets that someone special who compliments his personality rather than manipulates it.

“What I believe about love is that, whether it’s with your family, whether it’s with somebody you fall in love with and have a relationship with, it’s all about being seen.

“It’s all about someone saying, ‘I see you. I see who you are. I love who you are. I appreciate who you are.’”

“I think everybody has time to fall in love when they’re doing anything.”

Never a truer word spoken Jake. One thing you can guarantee about love is that you never find it when you’re looking for it and you never see true love coming.

Please share your thoughts on Jake’s turn as Cupid’s arrow by leaving a comment.

Read more about Jake Gyllenhaal like his involvement with Edible Schoolyard, eating homegrown vegetables, his separation from Taylor Swift; Google doodle lovebug and John Lennon tributes.

images: pluzmedia.com; favecraft.com

 

Google's doodle has the Love bug for Valentine's Day

Love is in the air today and Google are joining in with the feeling as they celebrate Valentine’s Day with a new doodle dedicated to Robert Indiana.

Indiana was born September 13th 1928 and as an artist was considered a part of the ‘Pop Art’ movement which was spearheaded by the iconic Andy Warhol. Google’s doodle is based on his ‘Love’ Sculpture which has been an attraction in the Indianapolis Museum of Art since 1975, and replicas of the classic image have been reconstructed all over the world, including one on Sixth Avenue, New York City and one outside Taipei 101 in Taiwan (which was the tallest building in the world until 2010).

The unique, lop-sided ‘O’ gives the image its distinctive look, and it has been translated into various languages including Hebrew, Chinese, Italian and Spanish.

Robert Indiana, originally named Robert Cark hails from New Castle, Indiana and he first drew the ‘Love’ logo as a Christmas card design. Since then it has cropped up just about everywhere from postage stamps to footwear, and of course, very fittingly as Google’s doodle today.

At 82 years of age Indiana is still working as a designer and artist. Later in life he turned his attention to the stage where he designed sets and clothing; although he did offer a reworking of ‘Love’ in 2008 when he presented ‘Hope’.  The proceeds of sales went towards funding Barrack Obama’s campaign trail to the White House, raising in excess of $1,000,000 through reproductions on T-shirts, keyrings, pins, bumper stickers and various other paraphernalia.

Google’s homepage is a also a timely reminder to all those who have forgotten their loved ones today, but if you’re going to get them a gift; at least really think about it and don’t just dive into the nearest florist or confectioners.

Show them you care, and that you’ve thought about them.

Please share your thoughts on the new doodle by leaving a comment.

See other google logos like Thomas Edison, Jules Verne, Paul Cezanne, Jane Austen and Robert Burns.

images: americanart.si.edu, google.com