The neighborhood I live in will never be the same, and it shouldn’t be.
This is the beginning of what I hope will become known to my grandchildren as a revolution. One that is necessary, and that requires the participation of those in the natural products industry. For so many years we’ve been advocates for a just and fair food system that includes sustainable agriculture practices, organic and non-GMO pursuits. But that mission simply isn’t big enough.
It’s time to rethink, reengage and reinvest in mission, vision and values with J.E.D.I. work as the core. It’s time for us as a community to have difficult conversations and be leaders in our food system, in addition to reprioritizing fair trade, B Corp, Climate Collaborative and all the other initiatives we engage in.
My amazing, diverse, Minneapolis neighborhood started the fires that are stoking this revolution. I have struggled to find the words to describe the emotions at times. Anger, fear, loss, grief, strength, compassion and wonderment rotate through my system each day. A week ago, the third prescient of the Minneapolis Police Department stood across the street from Gandhi Mahal, one of the most innovative minority-owned restaurants in the city.
Today those buildings are being demolished; I can hear the work as I write this article.
And yet everywhere I biked this morning there were signs of rebuilding. Rebuilding diverse businesses, fundraising, community dialogue, civil patrols and at almost every other block a food distribution site, because what was once a vibrant food corridor is now pretty much a food desert. If that doesn’t put the problem right in front of our faces, directly following the blows from COVID-19 to our food system, I am not sure what will.
We must look at our businesses as holistically as we view our health and that of consumers. We must think about our purpose, passion and partnerships in a way that raises all voices and quickly manifests change.
Through examining food waste, climate impact, economic disparity and equitable access to real food we can make a difference, but we must do so together. Now is the time to support all internal and external revolutions, the time to take our energy away from criticizing which of our NGOs has the right consumer-facing message.
Criticism only helps to a small degree, and then it dead ends. We need to continue to adopt and fight for rigorous standards by engaging in the process. Show up to the NOSB meetings, make comments during comment periods, protect and expect The Non-GMO Project Verified standards.
Fight for the right for all people to have access to certified organic food. Look for ways to make our global supply chain more efficient and nimbler so we can easily adapt when a given channel has to shut down. Create partnerships with your competitors so that we are all better prepared for the next crisis, because there will a next crisis.
The unrest we have been feeling as a society blew up in my Minneapolis neighborhood and is rapidly spreading around the world. While there is much rebuilding to be done, the most important next step is making sure all voices are heard and that we hold our systems accountable to embody justice and equity.
I have never been prouder of my community than I am today. 2020 has not been what any of us budgeted or planned for, a global pandemic that has sent our businesses into a tailspin, and now the civil unrest that is justifiably sweeping our nation. We all have a responsibility to come to the table and participate in a reset, the likes of which we have not experienced before.
The J.E.D.I Collaborative was created to help the natural products industry to foster greater justice, equity, diversity and inclusion within the industry and attract the best people, ideas and practices that will build a more just and prosperous future for all. You can learn more and get involved at www.jedicollaborative.com.