Yifan Luo via Crowdrise
November 29, 2012
BENEFITING: Food Empowerment Project
EVENT DATE: Dec 02, 2012
Mileage Tracker: 496
The Short Summary :)
I am running my first (maybe only!) marathon, an event I have always admired and been intimidated by, and using it to raise awareness and funds for a cause I care deeply about.
Over the past year and a half, I have found a new appreciation and love for running and triathlons. Endurance sports have made my body and mind stronger, while teaching me patience and the importance of interconnectivity when aiming for success; indeed, performing well isn't just about the miles you put in, but also the fuel you run on, the rest you give to your body, the relationships you foster on your journey, and your own adaptability. The concept of interconnectivity is very much in line with my own personal philosophies on life, and I believe that our everyday choices can make a huge impact on our surroundings. One thing we are all faced with every single day is making food choices. Many people do not realize the full power of this routine choice, which has a profound effect on on both a personal level (our health and that of our loved ones) and a global one (the health of our environment, worker conditions, social reprecussions, availbility of resources, and much more).
I was thrilled when I learned about the Food Empowerment Project and the work they do to "create a more just and sustainable world by recognizing the power of one's food choices." The group sheds light on many issues that many people (myself included) are unaware about in regards to food, such as environmental racism and modern slavery in the chocolate industry. They seek to empower underpriviledged communities by letting them speak for their own needs and wants, as opposed to imposing well-intentioned though often unsuccessful "reform" onto them, as many non-profits tend to do. They advocate for simple solutions to global issues related to the food industries, and do so out of pure compassion and concern for animals and humans alike (they are an all-volunteer group). Sadly, the group is deeply underfunded, limiting the scope of their work and means for community outreach.
In order to help raise funds for the Food Empowerment Project, I decided to sign up for a milestone goal that I can honestly say I never expected myself to be capable of accomplishing even a few months ago: completing my first marathon. Despite having done triathlons of various lengths, including a 70.3 Half-Ironman, training to successfully complete 26.2 miles of running made me weary. Could I do it injury free? Did I have the mental toughness to run that much over a period of several months? How would I stay motivated? A friend once told me, "Slippers are for wimps; kick them off and get uncomfortable." I've made the commitment to go out of my comfort zone and "get uncomfortable," and the Food Empowerment Project has given me the inspiration to see this goal through. I hope that you will join me in expanding your food choice knowledge and supporting this great organization!
The 30th annual California International Marathon is happening on December 2, 2012, in Sacramento, CA.
Did You Know??
Here are just some of the issues the the Food Empowerment Projects addresses:
- Farm Worker Conditions: Workers in produce farms, factory farms, and slaughterhouses all face extremely hazardous conditions, and few effective regulations exist to protect them. Agricultural workers work an average of 42 hours a week, yet 36% of families have a combined income below the natinal poverty level. They experience increased rates of respiratory diseases, noise-induced hearing loss, skin disorders, certain cancers, exposure to toxic chemicals and heat related illnesses.
- Child Labor is still prevalent in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) identifies agriculture as the most dangerous industry for youth, but current U.S. law allows children as young as 12 to work in the fields. These children are four times more likely to be injured on the job than youth in any other industry.
- Food Deserts--geographic areas where residents’ access to affordable, healthy food options (especially fresh fruits and vegetables) is restricted or nonexistent due to the absence of grocery stores within convenient travelling distance--are most commonly found in communities of color and low-income areas. The US government’s North American Industry Classification System (NAICS is the standard used by the federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments) skews this issue by statisctically lumping small corner stores and liquor stores with with supermarkets, such as Safeway, Whole Foods Market, etc. This makes it increasingly harder to enact policy change and provide whole food access to those who need it most.
- Animal Consumption: Nearly all animals raised for food, no matter how "humane," "free-range," or "organic," are separated from their mother shortly after birth, travel long distances to the slaughterhouses in extreme confinement, and are slaughtered at a very young age by methods designed for efficiency. The current system and its view of animals as consumer products is inarguably inhumane and needs to be re-examined or rejected.
- Slavery in the Chocolate Industry: In recent years, a handful of organizations and journalists have exposed the widespread use of child labor, and in some cases slavery, on West African cocoa farms. Slavery is abundant in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, which supply 75% of the world's cocoa market.
- Labeling: There are many different labels on food products today. For chocolate specifically, a common lable is Fair Trade Certified. However, no single label can guarantee that the chocolate was made without the use of exploitive labor. In 2010, the founders of the Fair Trade Certification process had to suspend several of their West African suppliers due to evidence that they were using child labor.
- Water Usage: Today, at least 1.1 billion people (about one-sixth of the entire human population) do not have adequate access to clean drinking water, and 2.6 billion people lack proper sanitation—causing nearly 250 million cases of disease and 5 to 10 million deaths worldwide every year. Agriculture uses far more freshwater worldwide—60 percent of the global total—than any other human activity.
- Water Privatization: About 90 percent of the world's freshwater stocks currently remain under public control, but privatization is becoming more common as revenue-strapped governments increasingly cannot afford to maintain and repair crumbling municipal water purification and delivery systems often built decades ago. Companies like Nestlé and Bechtel are leasing and owning spring sites, engaging in unlawful water extraction, pirce-gouging, and pollution, and more.
- Water, Air, and Chemical Pollution from Factory Farms: Animal excrement from factory farms is not processed as sewage—making it about 500 times more concentrated than treated human waste while leaving pathogens (like Salmonella and E. coli) and volatile chemicals intact. The ammonia from waste slurry lagoons also breeds bacteria, which creates acid that evaporates and combines with nitrous oxide from fertilizers and industrial pollution to form nitric acid rain—which leaches nutrients from the soil, despoils forest habitats, and kills fish by releasing toxic minerals from the earth that flow into aquatic ecosystems. (Only some facts out of many...there is much more on this on the FEP website!)
- Environmental Racism is the result of industrial polluters such as landfills, trash incinerators, coal plants, factory farms, and toxic waste dumps disproportionately affecting the well-being of residents of color and low-income communities. The placement of these facilities is not always an intentional process on the part of industry leaders. Instead, because of the distinct connections between ethnicity and class in the United States, poor rural areas tend to house communities of color and the land in these areas is cheaper. Most hard hit are children, the elderly, and individuals with pre-existing respiratory diseases.
- Dietary Diseases: There is a substantial body of scientific evidence supporting the ADA’s endorsement of eating plant-based as healthy and disease-fighting. For example, a lead surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, started a study in 1985 that ultimately proved that a low-fat, plant-based diet could significantly lower patients’ blood cholesterol levels—by an average of over 100 mg/dL—and open clogged arteries. Changing what you eat can be difficult because it can be tied to your moods, your health, or your economic and social circumstances. However, what you eat can empower you to prevent, reduce, and even reverse many of the country's leading causes of death.
Any donation amount is deeply appreciated, but here are some pre-set levels you can choose from:
$13 - Half Marathon Cheering Squad
$26 - Marathon Support Crew *
$50 - Ultra A-Team **
$75 - Distance Trailblazer ***
$100 - Fitness Elite ****
$150+ - Endurance God *****
* Automatically entererd to win ethical chocolate prize pack
** Automatically entered to win customized caricature or chocolate prize pack
*** Automatically entered to win Whole Foods gift card, customized caricature, or chocolate prize pack
**** Automatically entered to win customized medium-sized painting, Whole Foods gift card, customized caricature, or chocolate prize pack
***** Automatically entered to win customized large painting, Whole Foods gift card, customized caricature, or chocolate prize pack
Everyone will be entered to win one of two sweet Food Empowerment Project t-shirts!
What Will My Money Be Used For?
- Paying people to translate the FEP website into Spanish and other languages
- Organizing focus groups with low-income areas, areas affected by food pollution, farm farmers, and more
- Outreach to encourage transparency in major companies (Clif Bar, Trader Joes, Vosges, etc.) and petition for boycott of resources from areas that utilize slavery for providing said resources
- Printing of Food Chain: http://www.foodispower.org/food_chain.php
- Funding, printing, and distributing reports on FEP's access work: http://www.foodispower.org/scc_study.php.
- Helping fund access work in further communities, including an early 2013 project in Vallejo, CA
- Printing educational literature, including new ethical chocolate leaflet
- Developing apps
- Funding speaking engagements in various communities (the group's founder is often asked to speak throughout the contry, but due to lack of funds, has to decline a number of requests)
- Funding healthy cooking classes in low-income areas
- Printing kid-friendly resources and buying prizes for FEP's "guess the produce" game
- Developing new programs
...and much more!
More about Food Empowerment Project
By making informed choices, we can prevent injustices against animals, people, and the environment. The Food Empowerment Project also work to discourage negligent corporations from pushing unhealthy foods into low-income areas and empower people to make healthier choices by growing their own fruits and vegetables. In all of its work, the Food Empowerment Project seeks specifically to empower those with the fewest resources.
The Food Empowerment Project (F.E.P.) seeks to create a more just and sustainable world by recognizing the power of one's food choices. We encourage healthy food choices that reflect a more compassionate society by spotlighting the abuse of animals on farms, the depletion of natural resources, unfair working conditions for produce workers, and the unavailability of healthy foods in low-income areas.
The Food Empowerment Project was founded in 2006 by lauren Ornelas. To learn more about the organization's leadership team, please visit www.foodispower.org