I arrived in Jackson, MS, on Tuesday from New York City, to join Live Real’s Food and Freedom Ride. I was headed to Shelby, a small town in the Delta about three hours northwest of Jackson, where the group was going to be running a workshop on the Food and Farm Bill at the community center, organized by WhyHunger partners MEGA and Delta Fresh Foods Initiative.
I asked a woman at the airport about Shelby. She was from Jackson but had never heard of it. I told her where it was, and she asked, truly curious,
“What are you doing THERE?!”
“I”m going to meet with farmers and gardeners,” I said.
In an even more astonished voice, she asked, “WHAT do you DO?!”
“I work with people who are bringing healthy, fresh food to their communities,” I told her.
She was emphatic again, but supportive this time: “Oh, well, I sure wish there was more of that down here!”
I wish I could talk to that woman again now, a couple of days later. I’d tell her about the workshop in Shelby, where an engaged group of youth, adults, and civil rights elders talked about the problems in our food system and big picture solutions. I’d tell her about the Real Food Fellows on the ride, each one of whom is working for food justice in their community — including several in the South. I’d tell her about the community garden that the riders helped one of the Fellows break ground on in Eupora, MS, the day before I arrived.
The fields upon fields of corn and soybeans we’re driving through now as we head north through Illinois remind us how much work there is to do, but the Food and Freedom Ride is also pointing to all the seeds of food justice being sown even in unexpected places.