Tag Archives: human rights

on liberty : food and freedom

On May 25, 2013, as we marched through the streets of Vancouver protesting Monsanto, we chanted:

“Our food, OUR choice”.

Seems simple, right? We should have the freedom to choose what we put in our bodies. And yet . . .

In Canada and the USA, we do not have the right to know what is in our food. That, apparently, would be too much trouble for the marketers. They might not make as much money. They might actually have to ensure that their products are safe.

Should food be a human right?

You wouldn’t know it from the current state of affairs, but food and health are protected under national and international human rights conventions.

Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides us with the right to freedom of conscience and the right to life, liberty and security. Article 25 (1) of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides everyone with “the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food ” [. . .] (emphasis mine)

Before I became a full-time mum and farmer, I worked in a government human rights agency. All sorts of wild and wonderful things are covered and defended by government under the umbrella of “human rights”. Some are incredibly important and worth fighting for, some well,  not so much. I saw everything imaginable in my career there, and some things you most certainly couldn’t imagine.

Looking back, it bothers me to know that I was required to administer complaints that were frankly completely flippant, self-absorbed and absolute wastes of tax-payers dollars, while something as important as the right to food has been deemed not worthy of the same protection.

Freedom of conscience, freedom of association, freedom of religion, freedom from discrimination – what do these mean if you’re hungry?

Our current fetish with political correctness merely distracts us from a real and devastating attack on our most basic rights and freedoms.

The fact of the matter is we do not have a democracy; we have had a corporate coupe d’etat.

It has been this way for some time. When a corporation’s right to poison us and profit from it, and do it with the full protection of the law, comes before the people’s right to safe, clean food . . . well then. Our governments don’t work for us anymore. They work for the lobbyists, the corporations, the marketing boards, the elite and the powerful.

They do all these evils under the guise that A rising tide lifts all boats.

Look around you. We aren’t rising. We’re drowning.

In North America, not only do we NOT have the right to a clean, safe food supply, we don’t even have the right to know that our food isn’t safe. We don’t have the right to choose because we are actively denied the information required to do so.

Corporations control the seed industry to such and extent that one of our Canadian seed companies has been blocked from shipping seeds to the USA. His beautiful, organic, heirloom (actually EDIBLE) soybeans were confiscated by customs, claiming that his seeds threatened the US soybean crop.

Over 90% of that crop is GMO, owned by Monsanto. This is the same crop that makes it nearly impossible for farmers to grow soy organically with traditional seeds, because of contamination from GMO fields and fear that Monsanto will then sue the owners of the contaminated fields for patent infringement.

Read that again.

Now think about what that means, what that says about the state of our food system, the state of our freedom, and the role government is playing in it’s complete and utter erosion.

For a culture that holds the Free Market System as the new religion, the Laws of Supply and Demand beyond reproach and above all else – that seems odd, doesn’t it? There is demand, and there is supply. And yet, the very same corporations who cry bloody murder when they are asked to be held accountable to anything but the almighty Free Market, aren’t so keen for those very same principles to be applied against them, no matter how small the scale.

These companies and the government change the rules of the game whenever they see fit, to suit their own greed and power-lust, not the common good.

Our culture provides us with an illusion of freedom and choice; we can vote for our favourite Idol, express our most mundane thoughts to the world a million times a day via social media . . . but this is nothing more than a palaver, a stand in, a replica of real freedom. It is hollow and meaningless, a mere distraction.

If we cannot even choose what to feed our children, what to put in our own bodies, how can we claim to be free?

if boobs are ok for billboards, they’re more than ok for babies!!! a breastfeeding rant

English: Breastfeeding the baby.

I have some pretty strong feelings about this one. What can I say. . .

Here’s my open letter to a town councillor from Alberta, Canada – who made public comments about her disapproval of a fellow council woman breastfeeding her new baby in meetings.

Any culture that views nourishing a child as gross, inappropriate for public or shameful has some serious issues.

Why is it ok for anyone to challenge such a basic human right as breastfeeding your child??

And to folks who have a problem with women breastfeeding in public I have three words for you.


Dear Ms. Monteith,

I am writing to express my concern regarding your recent comments about your fellow councillor breastfeeding her baby during work meetings.

I am particularly disappointed to see that it is another woman making these disparaging, closed-minded remarks.

I am a young breastfeeding mother and former human rights worker. I would like to take this time to remind you that breastfeeding is protected under human rights law in Canada.

Breastfeeding is natural, normal and healthy for both mothers and babies.

Rather than viewing breastfeeding mothers as an inappropriate distraction, it is time we shift our view and recognize that breastfeeding mothers can and should be included as a normal part of every aspect of public life. Government and public service should be a place where we are proactive about improving the role of all women in society – that includes lactating women.

After the similar controversy that occurred recently in the House of Commons, it was uplifting to see the images of women with babies at work in governments in other parts of the world. There is no reason why new mothers should be excluded from participating in our democracy and serving their community. It is possible.

In regards to your comment about tax payers covering her child-care – We SHOULD have universal childcare. Your comment is mean-spirited and anti-family. Parents – women AND men, need all the support they can get, especially in this fragile economy. I applaud Ms. Westerlund for being back at work so soon after her birth.

It is time we do away with the misogynistic stigma and taboo associated with breastfeeding. If boobs are ok for billboards, they’re more than ok for babies.

I hope you reassess your opinions and apologize to Ms. Westerlund and her family.


Stacey Langford