2nd Annual Food Justice Summit Celebrates Food, Culture and Sustainability with Community Partners

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Tompkins Weekly – August 13, 2012

by Alison Fromme

Farm fields and foodies flourish in the Finger Lakes, but the abundance of our region is not available to all. “Although Tompkins County is revered as an agriculturally rich region, unemployment and underemployment combined with rising food and other basic living costs is causing our community to slip into food insecurity,” says Liz Karabinakis, co-founder and coordinator of GreenStar Community Projects (GSCP), the tax-exempt affiliate of GreenStar Cooperative Market. “Culturally acceptable and dignified access to growing and consuming good food is a human right being taken away from the majority. The global profit-driven food industry is contributing to peak oil and peak soil and is failing our people and planet. The purpose of the Food Justice Summit, organized by GSCP in collaboration with community and campus partners, is to bring people together to take back their food by building a sustainable local food system that is socially just, ecologically responsible and economically viable.”

The Food Justice Summit begins with a walkathon that will start at 10:30 am on Saturday, September 22, outside of Neighborhood Pride (210 Hancock Street), Ithaca NY). The five-mile loop will include educational stops with opportunities to learn about food justice projects underway and chances for individuals and teams to win great prizes. The walkathon will culminate at a Street Fair featuring a local organic BBQ with carnivore, vegetarian and vegan fare, live music, craft vendors, youth activities, performances and more. Middle schoolers paired with local chefs will wield spatulas and frying pans to cook their way to greatness in the Junior Iron Chef competition organized by Gardens4Humanity. Funds raised from the Food Justice Summit will help build regional food sustainability by supporting projects that promote health, equity, and community control of essential resources, including Congo Square Market, a thriving multicultural gathering on Friday evenings at Southside Community Center.

Karabinakis adds, “Events are wonderful opportunities to foster community building, celebrate cultural diversity, cross-pollinate ideas and experience the place we live in and people we live by in a life-enriching way through sharing food, music, dance and more. We’re truly excited to be collaborating with two other events the same weekend that promote similar values: the Latin Roots Festival and Earthdance.”

On the Commons, the Latin Civic Association’ Latin Roots Festival will celebrate Latino Heritage month on Saturday, September 22. “The Latin Roots Festival is all about unity and undoing racism,” says organizer Micah Martorell. “We are hoping to share unity, understanding and our culture with each other as Latinos and with our community as neighbors.”

Latin Roots festival-goers will be able to explore a wide range of Latin American cultures through food, arts and crafts merchants, children’s activities, family friendly live performances, and even a “Latino Kids Got Talent” show. Mayor Svante Myrick will kick off the event with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11am and the fun will continue until 7pm.

Meanwhile, Earthdance, a festival of music and dance for world peace, justice and sustainability, will be well underway at the 4-H Acres at Route 13 and Lower Creek Road throughout the weekend. It’s a global celebration with locations around the world, and here in Ithaca, the festivities include drum circles, meditation, sing-alongs, family art, knitting, a happiness parade, music on two stages, and more. Proceeds will benefit the Dorothy Cotton Institute, an internationally renowned education and resource center, providing leadership training for a global human rights movement; and aims to open new pathways to peace, justice and healing.

All three events are intended to inspire positive action. “We are connected by values underlying our missions,” says Patricia Haines, of Level Green and Earthdance organizer. “We are committed to promoting peace and justice as the heart of building a sustainable community-based future.”

For more information about the Food Justice Summit, to register or make a pledge for the walkathon, become a sponsor or volunteer:
www.FoodJusticeSummit.org; Food Justice Summit on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FoodJusticeSummit; Earthdance on Facebook: facebook.com/EarthdanceIthaca; Latin Roots 2012! on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/449407501747775/

Alison Fromme is the founder of the local food news website www.IthacasFoodWeb.com. Ithaca’s Food Web is a partner of the Food Justice Summit.

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