Food Tank recently had the opportunity to speak with Jose Oliva, Associate Director of the Food Chain Workers Alliance, who was one of the speakers at the 2015 Food Tank Summit in partnership with The George Washington University.
Food Tank (FT): What will your message be at the Food Tank Summit?
Jose Oliva (JO): The message we would like to get across is the inextricable interconnectivity of health, environment, agriculture and labor in our food system. We cannot be good to ourselves by JUST eating healthy or JUST getting environmentally sustainable products or JUST supporting businesses that have good labor practices. It is about transforming our entire food culture so that we see that these things are interdependent, and therefore must be done together.
FT: How are you contributing to building a better food system?
JO: The Food Chain Workers Alliance (along with Union of Concerned Scientists, Movement Strategy Center and the Real Food Challenge) are convening a multi-sector, multi-stakeholder coalition to transform our food system from one that puts profits before people and the planet, to one that puts our health, environment, agriculture, and labor first, to avoid the collapse of our planetary ecosystems.
FT: What are the biggest obstacles or challenges you face in achieving your organization’s goals?
JO: The government that was intended to serve the interests and needs of the people has been increasingly less responsive to those needs as corporations have grown their power and influence. It is now imperative, if we are to survive as a species, to retake that government from moneyed interests. Our food system currently is the biggest employer with the lowest wages (20 million workers, with over 50 percent living below the federal poverty line); biggest polluter (over 12.5 billion metric tons of carbon emissions); and one of the largest donors to both Democrats and Republicans.
(FT): Who is your food hero and why?
(JO): My sons.
(FT): In 140 characters or fewer, what is the most important thing we can all do to help change the food system?
(JO): Become the government that transforms our food system to one that puts our health, environment, agriculture and labor first.