Food Activism: Big And Small Things You Can Do

Sep 11, 2015

Here’s a must-have book for all food lovers. The Food Activist Handbook by Ali Berlow is not a cookbook, but it’s guaranteed to satisfy another kind of appetite: our hunger to make a difference.

Some of the ideas will be familiar: Contribute to a food pantry, plant a school garden, join a food co-op.

But there are plenty of fun and unusual suggestions, too: Have a cow parade, host a food-themed poetry slam, hold a food swap (this is already happening monthly in Charlotte at Snug Harbor in Plaza Midwood).

The author explains that the book itself is a “glean” – its materials have been gathered from activists working everywhere from grassroots to policy-making levels of change.

Credit Storey Publishing

The information is presented in an easy-to-use format, and invites readers to thumb through its pages to sample the tips, ideas, suggestions and success stories. Banners at the top of project pages proclaim cheerily “You Can Do This,” as they offer step-by-step instructions. Other sections are helpfully labeled “Advice From,” “What’s Going On,” and “Lessons Learned,” for easy navigation. Farmers, beekeepers, preachers and teachers share their wisdom.

Want to restrict food and beverage advertising in schools? The book shows you how. Shop smarter? A map of a typical grocery store will help you “eat from the edges.” Interested in learning how to “green” your city spaces? If Detroit can do it, so can you.

Most importantly, Berlow dispels the myth that we need to have special qualifications in order to make a difference. She writes: “Perhaps you never considered yourself to have enough of whatever it is that’s necessary to be a food activist. …Or maybe you think someone else, someone more qualified, is going to do it for you.”

If that’s the case, Berlow’s advice is elegantly simple: “Start cooking.”