Wenonah Hauter is author of 'Foodopoly (The Battle over the Future of Food and Farming in America)'. Wenonah is the executive director of Food & Water Watch and a keynote speaker at the GIY Gathering 2013 (September 14 and 15, Co Waterford). Tickets from €20 at www.giyinternational.org
Where do you GIY?
When I was 11, my father bought a hardscrabble farm in the Bull Run Mountains of Virginia. It was then that I developed an appreciation for what it really means to grow food. I did everything from picking potato bugs, to plucking chickens and chopping kindling.
Did the farm stay in the family?
Yes. Today that same farm is a family farm, run by my husband. The farm belongs to a Community Supported Agriculture Project (CSA), which is part of the growing local food movement in the US.
What do you grow there?
We grow corn, tomatoes, broccoli, greens, squash and eggplant (aubergine), herbs, potatoes, onions and we have chickens for eggs. My husband does all the work on the farm now. This year I've been travelling a lot but when possible, I do like to plant and tend to flowers.
Tell us about Food & Water Watch.
My passion is working to educate, organise and mobilise people to bring the social and political change necessary to take back our democracy. This is why I founded Food & Water Watch.
I feel so lucky to work with our dedicated staff and the thousands of supporters and activists who are organising for the political changes necessary to create a better world.
In 'Foodopoly', you write that you don't think the local food movement is enough to solve America's food crisis and the public health debacle it has created. Why not?
I am a huge proponent of the local food movement, but I think the real culprit for these problems is the control of food production by a handful of large corporations-backed by political clout that prevents farmers from raising healthy crops and limits the choices that people can make in the grocery store.
If personal choice can't fix these problems, what can?
Solving this crisis will require a complete structural shift – a change that is about politics, not just personal choice. Agricultural policy has been hijacked by lobbyists, driving out independent farmers and food processors in favour of big business.
Are you positive or negative about the future of the food chain?
I am really excited and inspired by the people I'm meeting as I travel around the world talking about 'Foodopoly'.
People are mad and they want to fight for the kind of world we want. Their energy and spirit really keeps me going.