Food Tank recently had the opportunity to speak with Jeremiah Lowery, a political appointee to the D.C. Food Policy Council.
Food Tank (FT): What inspired you to get involved in food and agriculture?
Jeremiah Lowery (JL): Growing up in Washington, D.C., in a poverty stricken community with a mother who was homeless, meals were few and far between. After reading about the systemic causes of food and inequality in my local food system, and working on an urban farm that served low-income residents, I decided to dedicate the rest of my life to making the D.C. food system more equitable for everyone.
FT: What do you see as the biggest opportunity to fix the food system?
JL: I think the biggest opportunity lies in understanding the intersectionalities within our food system. Now is a good opportunity to understand how class, race, and gender are tied to our food system, and when we begin to look at solutions through a class, racial, or gender lens, then we can begin to dig away at the systemic problems.
FT: What innovations in agriculture and the food system are you most excited about?
JL: I like the new environmental innovations that make urban farming easier for cities. From new citywide composting systems to new ways to make local greenhouses more sustainable, I am really excited about ways we can make people and the environment healthy in our cities.
FT: Can you share a story about a food hero that inspired you?
JL: When I was working on an inner-city urban garden, I met residents who inspired me on a daily basis. From the homeless who wanted a community garden to escape to for food and peace to the seniors who visited the garden to learn how to grow for the first time, those community members are my food heroes.
FT: What drives you every day to fight for the bettering of our food system?
JL: I think creating a food system that is sustainable for the people and the environment is key to bringing about some sense of peace on our earth because food is connected to everything. Lack of food and stability in the food system is connected to events like the bread revolutions in Africa and the Middle East and pressing environmental issues like climate change.
FT: What’s the biggest problem within the food system our parents and grandparents didn’t have to deal with?
JL: I think environmental issues are worse now than they were in the past. Climate change is rapidly becoming a danger to our food system, and our vegetables are consistently being sprayed with new and powerful chemicals.
FT: What’s the first, most pressing issue you’d like to see solved within the food system?
JL: I would like to see the United States deal with its lack of young farmers. I think we need to grow a new generation of rural farmers, as well as inner-city youth who are interested in developing new local sources of food.
FT: What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?
JL: Organize community and neighborhood potlucks or dinners—spaces that let community members or friends come together and talk about the food system and how it’s affecting their community and the world.
FT: What’s one issue within the food system you’d like to see completely solved for the next generation?
JL: I think we need policies that make food workers’ lives more sustainable, from the farm to those serving the table. I think anyone who works in the restaurant industry or becomes a migrant farmer should be able to feed their own family.
FT: What agricultural issue would you like for the next president of the United States to immediately address?
JL: Lack of agricultural education classes in public school. I think every grade level from kindergarten through 12 should take a food and agriculture systems class. It should be common, like math or government classes.
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