Book Launch – “Big food ‘feeding the hungry poor?'”

By Maddison Dennis

On October 2, 2018, I attended a triple book launch entitled “Big food ‘feeding the hungry poor?’ Economic, Democracy, Food Justice and Human Rights.” It was moderated by Laura Violante, a PhD student of Public Policy and Global Affairs, and hosted by the University of British Columbia, the Food Systems Network, and the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems. At this event, we heard from three speakers, each of whom have recently released books exploring topics such as civil society, public policy, and the right to food: Andy Fisher with Big Hunger: the Unholy Alliance Between Corporate America and Anti-Hunger Groups; Annette Aurélie Desmarais with Public Policies for Food Sovereignty: Social Movements and the State; and Graham Riches with Food Bank Nations: Poverty, Corporate Charity, and the Right to Food. The book launch gave us the opportunity to hear from 3 different experts in the field of food justice and sovereignty. Following the presentations, there was a forum where the experts and 60 attendees could ask questions and discuss from our different backgrounds and perspectives. The books were also available for sale at the event, so we could continue our education, and discover how to get involved in the improvement and bolstering of our global food system.

This book launch focused primarily on the role of industry and politics in our food system, and the promotion of food justice and security through organizations such as food stamps, food banks, and charity. While the industry has funded much of our food aid, it also institutionalizes a system that is not supporting our culture, nutrition, or independence from food assistance. Policy can help to regulate these industries to reduce waste, improve distribution, and promote other anti-hunger practices. Community engagement can serve to guide our policy and industry to promote culture and food sovereignty.  The topics were extremely fascinating and engaging, outlining how we can help those in poverty in an effective way that can institutionalize food sovereignty and security in the future. Additionally, they detailed the importance of our political involvement to create positive change and illustrated how getting involved can help us restructure our country and world, to be anti-hunger and culturally inclusive. The following discussion allowed us to hear from other experts in the field and those new to the subject. This communication enhanced our personal education and exploration of our food systems, by engaging with differing perspectives and backgrounds.

This education and communication promoted by events such as this are vital throughout local and global communities. Through continued and similar initiatives, we can hopefully create a lasting, more holistic, effective and inclusive food system.