Food First – Institute for Food and Development Policy

  • The purpose of the Institute for Food and Development Policy – Food First – is to eliminate the injustices that cause hunger. (Mission).
  • The Institute for Food and Development Policy/Food First shapes how people think by analyzing the root causes of global hunger, poverty, and ecological degradation and developing solutions in partnership with movements working for social change. (Front Page and links).

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Address: Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy, 398 60th Street, Oakland, CA 94618, USA;
Contact. Tel: (510) 654-4400; Fax: (510) 654-4551; e-mail.

About /History: The following is an overview of the trajectory of Food First’s work during the last three decades. Before the Beginning: Food First is rooted in the early experiences and sensibilities of its founders. Joseph Collins, beginning in his teens, saw poverty and hunger first hand as he traveled around the Third World with the Catholic Maryknoll Brothers and Fathers.

Frances (Frankie) Moore Lappé grew up surrounded by adults who believed that their actions could make their community a better place to live; she went on to study at Earlham, the Quaker college.

Both Joe and Frankie came of age during the 1960s, a time when many young people were immersed in the civil rights movement and demonstrating against the war in Vietnam. Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty brought Frankie to Philadelphia, where she first realized that something more would be needed to end hunger and poverty. This epiphany led to her search for an answer to the question, Why is there poverty in the richest nation on earth?, and eventually to her writing Diet for a Small Planet. This book struck a strong chord with those who read it: it sold two million copies over its first 10 years, largely by word of mouth.

At the same time, Joe Collins was working at the Washington think tank Institute for Policy Studies, writing the book Global Reach, about the impact of multinational corporations in the Third World. He also coauthored a report titled World Hunger: Causes and Remedies, which was written to challenge the official UN world food assessment for the 1974 World Food Conference in Rome.

Early Years: … //

… The 2000s
In the new millennium, Food First has continued its analysis of the ways economic globalization impacts the food system and jeopardizes all people’s human rights. In conjunction with the offices of Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Barbara Lee (D-CA), Food First staff convened a 2003 congressional briefing on the impacts of trade policies on U.S. workers. And we worked with indigenous and peasant activist groups in the streets of Cancún as well as inside the convention center where the 2003 WTO ministerial was held, protesting the inclusion of agriculture within WTO trade rules—and we rejoiced when the talks collapsed utterly.

The Institute has also continued to highlight alternatives. Since the collapse of the Soviet bloc, a blockaded Cuba has effected the most large-scale conversion to organic and sustainable agriculture ever attempted. As part of its Alternative Food Systems program, Food First has led numerous sustainable agriculture delegations to Cuba, and has sponsored training, exchange, and outreach programs to increase awareness of the Cuban work and to help extend Cuban expertise in sustainable agriculture to the rest of the world.

Without land, there is no food, and real, democratic land reform is desperately needed in many countries to redress vast inequities and help ensure all people’s right to feed themselves. In partnership with organizations in Thailand, Brazil, and South Africa, Food First convened the Land Research Action Network (LRAN) to link activist researchers with each other and with grassroots movements in their efforts to democratize access to land. A monumental book on the recent history and current state of global land reform efforts grew from this collaboration, and Food First Books published Promised Land: Competing Visions of Agrarian Reform in 2006. Food First also published the story of one of the most successful grassroots land movements in the world, Brazil’s MST, in Angus Wright and Wendy Wolford’s superlative 2003 book, To Inherit the Earth: The Landless Movement and the Struggle for a New Brazil. Campesino a Campesino: Voices from Latin America’s Farmer to Farmer Movement for Sustainable Agriculture was published in 2006.

Food First continues to be at the forefront of the growing realization that genetic engineering of food crops and the corporate appropriation of seeds present a grave threat to poor people’s economic future and the future of human health and of the earth’s ecosystems. Food First champions alternatives to corporate control of agriculture, including the seeds that humans have used and developed for millennia: organic farming; agroecological principles and practices; and local, farmer-led control of food policies, production, and distribution.

Food First Publications: … (full long text).

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