Purslane at the Free Farm Stand

Eating our roots

[Image: A basket of purslane, with a sign reading “Hecka local produce picked from nearby gardens or trees & the Free Farm.”]

I’ve been thinking lately about how terrible our food system is in this country. I’m not just talking about fast food and I’m not just talking about animal agriculture. I’m talking about the price of fresh fruits and vegetables being so expensive that they are seen by many as luxuries, while we simultaneously throw away enormous amounts of unsold produce.

When I did volunteer work in food justice, I saw firsthand how much abundance comes from the Earth. At Alemany Farm in San Francisco, one of my jobs was to harvest purslane (pictured at the top of this post). This hardy, nutritious plant grows everywhere, even in the cracks of sidewalks. It’s considered a “beneficial weed.”

We gave away purslane at the Free Farm Stand, along with lots of unsold produce from farmers markets that would have otherwise gone to waste. Boxes and boxes of perfectly good food.

Eggplants at the Free Farm Stand[Image: A box of purple eggplants.]

While more year-round variety of produce is available here in San Francisco than in many places, the fact is that there is enough abundance to feed everyone directly from the Earth. We can create a society that provides affordable whole foods to everyone if we’re willing to make radical changes.

The word “radical,” by the way, means “going to the root.” I’ve been eating  lots of literal roots myself lately, in the form of sweet potatoes. I’m rediscovering the taste of whole foods, unaltered by sugar, oil, or salt (SOS). I tried going SOS-free for about a month last year for VeganMoFo, and it worked well, so I’m giving it another go, but focusing primarily on fresh fruit and tubers rather than beans and grains.

In order for everyone to have the opportunity to eat healthy foods, we need to create economic and social changes that will replace food deserts with community gardens. This morning, Sistah Vegan Project posted this great video by vegan hip-hop artist DJ CaveM:

This is wonderful. Community gardens are for everyone. Farmers markets shouldn’t be seen as destinations for privileged people. Healthy eating is in our roots.

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