My research this summer addresses the ways in which food insecurity in Black communities relates to environmental justice and how cooperative economic models, like co-op grocery stores, help to reduce job insecurity and food insecurity in Black communities while promoting mutual aid. While I have some background knowledge on these topics, I started my research with some preliminary readings and historical research. First, I wanted to learn about the history of African American cooperative economic thought from a technical and theoretical perspective. I also wanted to read texts on food insecurity and community organization in and outside the US.
In June I read Collective Courage by Jessica Gordon Nembhard, More Than Just Food by Garret M. Broad, and Oneness vs the 1% by Vandana Shiva. Collective Courage provides a descriptive and thorough history of African American cooperative economic thought and practice, starting in 1780. More Than Just Food also speaks to the history of community organizing in the US, but specifically focuses on the work of food justice groups in marginalized communities. While my research mainly focuses on the African American experience in the US, it’s important to understand how the politicization of land and food insecurity emerges globally. Oneness vs the 1% explains how the 1% destroys the planet with no accountability through their manipulation of political systems and markets around the globe. For most of June I was in South Africa, taking an intensive travel course called “Art in the Anthropocene”. This course in conversation with the preliminary readings, allowed me to establish a historical foundation for my research this summer while making global connections. As I continue my research, I will learn about the benefits and limitations of co-op grocery stores and the history behind the political economy around food in New York City today.