Food Voices: Stories of the Food Sovereignty Movement

This installment of the “Food Voices” series aims to demonstrate how it is possible for every country to feed itself.

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. 


Marge Townsend: Everyone Can Feed Themselves

On June 17th, I started traveling from New York to Wisconsin, speaking with farmers along the way. My first stop was in Windsor, Ohio, where I met Marge Townsend. Marge and her husband bought their farm in 1970 and started raising feeder pigs and growing oats and corn. Her daughter, Mardi, now raises grass-fed, organic cattle on their 220 acres.


The country side has changed considerably since Marge left Cleveland. Until the mid ’90s, she sold her feeder pigs at local auctions, called sale barns. At that time there were several sale barns that operated three days a week where she could sell her pigs for someone else to fatten up. Now there is only one that operates on Mondays. When she first moved out to her farm there were over 200 dairy farms; now there are only 50. Marge remains optimistic:


“My feeling is that every country can feed themselves. Maybe not every product, maybe not every place can grow oranges, but everyone can feed themselves adequately. And that is what should be happening. I don’t think we should be depending on exports for our livelihood. And I don’t think that somebody else should be exporting to us. They export what we want and then they don’t have access to the food that would nourish them. Maybe there are times when there is famine or hunger when we can help, but the best thing to do is to help people grow their own food. And not buy it away from them because we have more money. I see us going the wrong way on counting on trade for everybody’s well-being. I wouldn’t ever outlaw selling a banana, but I don’t think we have to have bananas to live. In this country the whole movement for local food is a good thing. And then we begin to educate people about what is wrong with importing so much or exporting so much.”