Food Voices: Raising Awareness and Changing the System

We take a look at Mendocino Organics in the “Food Voices” series.

WhyHunger is pleased to be partnering with Andrianna Natsoulas, longtime food sovereignty activist and author of the forthcoming book Food Voices: Stories of the Food Sovereignty Movement. In 2010, Andrianna began a journey across the Americas to capture the stories of people working towards and living a just and sustainable food system. As she continues her journey, spanning from Nova Scotia to Ecuador to Brazil and beyond, we will feature highlights of the stories she gathers. 


Adam Gaska and Paula Manalo run Mendocino Organics in Redwood Valley, CA. They are young farmers who currently lease three plots of land throughout the Valley to run their business. They provide vegetables, fruits, grains, chickens, turkeys, lamb, and beef to Community Supported Agriculture and Restaurant Supported Agriculture programs. They practice biodynamic farming, but policy barriers as well as a lack of necessary policies make it difficult for them. 


“I feel that our implementing biodynamics on the farm extends from just the purely physical farming aspect to the economic and soulful aspects of our farm. We market a lot of our products through community supported agriculture, in which the socio-economics is really based in biodynamic agriculture. That is just another layer to the “biodynamic” part of our farm. For us, we farm not just because we want to eat good food and feel good about ourselves, but because we hope we are making some sort of social change.  Through the CSAs, we see how much more conscious people are of what they eat and what it means to farm and grow food. Where their food comes from. Being aware of what they are putting in their bodies. Being aware of how they interact with their farmers and their community of eaters.”


“Policies need to shift to give people more rights or a better opportunity to make a living and actually have ownership or else we will all work at Wal-Mart or we will all work for the massive vineyard and winery operations. On a small scale, I think the policies are changing. But it is not happening fast enough. It’s not looking so good. There are lots of policies that are preventing us from doing what we want to. There are policies and lack of policies.  Politicians are so afraid of losing their jobs that they don’t want to piss anybody off. I think part of it is the fact that people are depending on the government to do it (change policies). They are not going to do it. This system, I think, has gotten to be too inflexible. The system has become so big it has become totally self serving. People identify with the government and with the institutions to the extent that they are acting out of interest to save the system instead of themselves.  It is going to get to where we aren’t going to be able to work hard enough to keep up the institutions we have now. It just is not working right now in the interest of most people. It is working in the extreme interest of a very few people.” 

Despite the hurdles, Adam and Paula’s future plans are “a hundred thousand pounds of food. That’s the goal.”