Nexus: Food Has the Power to Heal the Community and the Planet

<<<>>>NEXUS <<<>>>

The intersection of human rights, the environment, social justice and the economy

Tamara McFarland

Food has the potential to nurture, heal, connect and empower us – not only at the individual level but also as a community and as a species. At a time when eco-grief, climate anxiety, and racialized violence weigh heavily on our hearts and in our bodies, food offers an opportunity for repair and regeneration.

At Cooperation Humboldt, our conviction that nutritious and culturally appropriate food is a fundamental human right informs every aspect of our work. We understand that food access sets a necessary foundation for all aspects of personal and communal wellness. As we pursue our tangible work of planting fruit trees and gardens and installing Little Free Pantries, not only are we feeding folks’ physical bodies – we’re also helping them to connect more deeply with their neighbors, and to re-establish a relationship with the natural world rooted in balance and reciprocity. We’re also constantly working to leverage our projects to promote racial justice.

We must begin with the acknowledgement that resources we currently enjoy as a nation have been built on the genocide of Native people and the enslavement of Black people, and that the negative impacts of this history continue to this day in many damaging forms:

  • Disproportionate access to capital and land for people of color;
  • Disproportionate access to healthy grocery options for people of color;
  • Less access to insurance coverage for people of color;
  • Higher rates of preventable disease and premature death for people of color;
  • D-valuing of farm labor traditionally performed by people of color. 

In stark contrast to this history, we also have the power to create something completely different. Our food systems hold great potential to combat environmental racism and create a more equitable future. We can create systems that honor Indigenous rights and work to repair the harm that has been done to black and brown bodies for centuries in the United States. Exactly what this looks like will vary depending on context, but we have many examples already available to highlight in our own community.

  • Our temperate climate and emerging local food ecosystem provides many opportunities to choose local over corporate food sources, which is one of the most powerful tools we have in the movement for climate justice.;
  • Indigenous leaders including Meagen Baldy of the Hupa Tribe and Two Feathers Native American Family Services are working to restore traditional foodways to tribal communities in the region.
  • Traditional Yurok fishermen Sam and Peter Gensaw are combating food insecurity on the Lower Klamath Reservation by providing fresh vegetables for families and elders and fighting for dam removals to ensure that future generations have the ability to harvest salmon. 
  • Humboldt State University recently received a $250,000 USDA grant to establish La Comida Nos Une (“Food Unites Us”), a program that examines the scientific, political, socioeconomic, and social justice aspects of sustainable food systems.

These are just a few examples of some of the exciting work being done for social justice and re-localization of our food system here in Humboldt County.

Cooperation Humboldt has recently agreed to take over production of the Local Food Guide from Locally Delicious. We’re calling it the Community Food Guide (CFG), and we’re working to reimagine how this annual print publication can best be leveraged to actively promote access, equity, education, and empowerment in our local food system. 




Our priorities for the CFG include the following:

  • Presenting useful and empowering information about growing and consuming locally produced food in a format that is fun and easy to understand
  • Proactively soliciting input from under-served and under-resourced populations and working to make the CFG more useful to them;
  • Centering the cultural knowledge, lived experiences, and wisdom of the original inhabitants of this land with respect to our relationship with food and the natural world;
  • Using the CFG to specifically support BIPOC-, Women-, and Queer-owned food businesses;
  • Leveraging the CFG to strengthen and grow our local food system and promote food sovereignty, localization, and non-corporatization of our food supply.

We’re excited to take on this work, grateful to Locally Delicious for paving the way, and inspired by the input we’ve received so far from our community. We can’t wait to share the latest edition of the Community Food Guide with you all next Spring.

To learn more about Cooperation Humboldt’s work, please visit