July 18, 2012
I have been analyzing FEP for my dissertation work, which focuses on critical food geographies and pro-vegan organizations. FEP is a superb example of solidarity, collaboration, and compassion. Food Empowerment Project’s goals are ‘race-conscious’, ‘class-conscious’, non-human animal compassionate, and green. FEP reveals how USA product marketing tends to conceal the social, economic, and geopolitical relations that undergird even food commodities. For example, they are working hard to expose which chocolate companies are sourcing from countries that use child slavery in the cocoa plantation. FEP fights to create a food commodity chain without (1) perpetuating racism, sexism, or poverty and (2) abusing and exploiting animals or the environment’s resources. FEP represents a vegan space that seeks solidarity with all oppressed and exploited beings and resources. FEP’s political and economic activism for exploited Latin-American laborers who harvest produce for vegans under cruel conditions. This challenges the assumption, promoted by PETA Cruelty Free Vegan Shopping Guide, that produce is vegan, therefore is ‘cruelty-free’. I have learned through FEP that ethical consumption amongst the USA status quo, obscure how race and ongoing legacies of colonialism have greatly affected the landscape of food production and who has access to purchase foods that have been labeled as "ethical," "moral," or "vegan." I also learned through FEP that organic produce, a tenet of ethical consumption philosophy, is not necessarily ethical when it comes to its reliance on the exploited Latin-American laborers. These laborers are collectively paid wages so low in the USA, they cannot even afford to buy the very organic "ethical" foods they harvest and process for ethical consumption movement dominated by socio-economically privileged American consumers . As a pro-vegan scholar and activist, FEP has also taught me that individual consumption of vegan commodities is simply not enough to create an ethical and just food system, healthy planet, or ‘cruelty-free’ commodity chain. Instead, FEP seeks to understand the limits of vegan ethics if it is within the confines of neoliberal capitalist global economy.
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MY ROLE:Professional with expertise in this field & PhD Candidate and Food Justice Activist.