Today, October 16th, 2014 is World Food Day. The World Food Day theme for 2014 is Family Farming: “Feeding the world, caring for the earth”. While most Americans recognize the problem of hunger in so-called “developing countries.” Very few people comprehend the high levels of food insecurity that exists across the United States. This problem is especially acute on American Indian Reservations where a 120 years of exclusionary federal policies have pushed Tribal members off their own lands to make them available to non-tribal farmers and ranchers. This combined with high rates of poverty has created food desserts across indian country.
“Food deserts are defined as urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options. The lack of access contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.”
The map above, developed by Village Earth’s Lakota Lands Recovery Project, draws on 2012 data collected by the US Census Bureau and compiled by www.feedingamerica.org to display the county-level data along with the boundaries of South Dakota’s American Indian Reservations. The data shows that on these Reservations, food insecurity (not having enough food within the past year) is has high as 26% percent, some of the highest rates in the country. Village Earth is trying to transform this situation by supporting local, grassroots efforts to develop more sustainable, more healthy local food systems. For example, on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Village Earth is supporting efforts of the Knife Chief Buffalo Nation organization who seeks to acquire more land to expand their buffalo herds which provide both spiritual and nutritional sustenance for the Lakota people. Earth Tipi, another one of our Global Affiliates, is seeking funds to develop a demonstration “food forest” near the community of Manderson on the Pine Ridge Reservations. Food forests are a form of sustainable regenerative food systems that bring together assemblages of food bearing parennial plants that thrive in local soils and climate and require very little maintenance once established. On the Cheyenne River Reservation, another one of our Global Affiliates “Mni” is working to restore their lands and aquifers by promoting simple watershed restoration and holistic grazing managemnet practices. The goal of which is to restore their lands and wild plants after 120 years of extractive grazing practices managed by the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. All three of these Village Earth Global Affiliates are currently accepting donations through Globalgiving.org. Please consider making a donation on this World Food Day.