June 1, 2020

The food justice movement ‘Bites Back’: New book challenges corporate control of the food system

Bite Back book cover, published by University of California Press

Over the last several decades, a handful of transnational corporations have dramatically transformed our food system – from what we eat to how it’s produced. Big Food has driven the expansion of industrial farms that pollute our soil, air and water, manufactured a demand for junk foods through child-centered marketing, and interfered with policies meant to protect public health and improve nutrition for all people. There’s no question that the damaging impact these changes have had on our health and the planet is expansive.

We know that a more sustainable and equitable food system is both necessary and possible. That’s why we are excited to be a part of the interconnected movement of organizations that are confronting the core injustices of the system and biting back.

The University of California Press recently published a collection of essays by seasoned food experts and community organizers called “Bite Back: People Taking on Corporate Food and Winning.” We were thrilled to contribute a chapter to the book, in collaboration with our partners at Real Food Media.

Edited by Kathryn De Master and Saru Jayaraman, the book covers topics like the structural work inequities in the U.S. food system, corporate control of the seed industry, and the devastating impact of fracking on our farms. These essays offer insights from organizers on our food campaign and our allies, as well as leaders from Food Chain Workers Alliance, One Fair Wage, Food & Water Watch, and more organizations fighting for food justice. You can read the introduction here.

Our chapter, authored by Corporate Accountability President Emeritus Kelle Louaillier and Real Food Media’s Founder and Strategic Adviser Anna Lappé, provides a history and case study of our food campaign. Entitled “Moving a McMountain: How a Campaign Challenging McDonald’s Health Abuses is Transforming the Food Industry” – it shares the story of how with our allies, we have exposed McDonald’s predatory marketing tactics and healthwashing schemes, and built a movement among teachers, parents, and health professionals to reject its presence in schools and hospitals around the U.S.

It begins with the recounting of 9-year-old Hannah Robertson’s confrontation with McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson at the corporation’s shareholders’ meeting in 2013 and chronicles the campaign’s evolution over the course of a decade. It goes on to tell the story of how people, working together, making a plan, and building grassroots power can shift the practices of a transnational corporations – like McDonald’s.

We are proud of all of the insight, strategic thinking, and research in “Bite Back,” and know that the collection will serve as a critical guide to all people organizing for a just food system. It’s inspiring to see organizations and leaders come together to imagine and build the world we know is possible and necessary. We are grateful to be a part of that.

We also know that the story is far from over. We are continuing to build on these victories, and specifically challenging Big Food and Soda for their interference in public policy and propagation of junk science. More information on our current campaign actions can be found here.

We will also continue to build power in collaboration with organizations that are shaping the food system for the better – through the HEAL Food Alliance and other coalitions.

Together, we will continue to stand up to the Food and Beverage industry, and create a food system that prioritizes people and the planet over profit.

Learn more about “Bite Back” and purchase your copy today!

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