Thursday, September 12, 2013

Meet the Board Nominees! Part 1

Greetings Friends and fellow Co-op Member/Owners!

I am thrilled to be nominated for a position on the Board of the Richmond Food Co-op. There are many reasons for my keen investment in working toward the growth and prosperity of our co-op, all of which merge my intellectual and personal commitments. I grew up in Canada with a mother who was a political activist and who fought diligently against the unsustainable practices of the Manitoba hog industry. Through her work, I learned at a very early age that contemporary factory farming is at every turn unethical: Its treatment of animals is abhorrent; its environmental practices wholly unsustainable; and its stressful working conditions produce extraordinarily high rates of family abuse and suicide.  My father was an allergist who specialized in food allergies. From him I learned about the sensitivities that each of us face in relation to the sustenance of our own bodies, and the poisonous effects of mono-cultural production that affect us all today in the wake of globalization. My early childhood, then, was one seeped in food politics. 

My doctoral work in Comparative Literature built from this early interest in food to investigate how global writers use food in their literary works to illuminate myriad forms of oppression: State-sanctioned poverty, domestic abuse, animal welfare, and institutional forms of racism. I have published diverse articles on how literature employs food and eating to upset many of our most deeply held beliefs, including how Western rational thought has enabled our species to act in wholly self-serving ways at the expense of other species and the environment. At the University of Richmond, my course “Food for Thought” brings together literary, environmental, historical, anthropological, and philosophical discourses on food and eating to rethink the very basis our eating practices. If we agree that “you are what you eat,” then we also must consider that in eating we are always in a state of becoming something different. Eating, then, paves the way for new possibilities in the future and new forms of being human. 

For my family, which includes my partner Nathan Snaza and our 16-month old daughter Isadora Singh, having a thriving Co-op is vital to our investment in Gandhian thought and practice. Like Gandhi, we believe that a society that thrives on the subjugation of many for the betterment of some is a sick society. Food is the best way to gauge the health of any community: Only when all community members are well-fed can we begin to build abiding alliances between individuals and families regardless of race, class, sex, or religion. “Well-fed” of course does not mean “full.” It’s not enough to provide cheap fast-food meals for families; we must provide sustainable, healthy, and ecologically responsible food for everyone. My vision for our Co-op is one where we will come together as a diverse collective, learning from our differences but united in our mutual desire to nourish ourselves alongside of—rather than in spite of—others who may be less fortunate.

-Julietta Singh, Co-op Member/Owner and Board Nominee

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