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4 ways to support sustainable food practices

AFSC's Roots for Peace program in Los Angeles. Photo: Lorena Alvarez

Prepared by Sayrah Namaste and Patrick Jaramillo 

1. Support your local food system. 

Buy produce at your local farmers’ market. This gives you an opportunity to get the freshest food and meet the person growing your food. It also means the farmer directly receives the funds without a “middleman” taking a cut. 

Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). CSAs are a locally-based economic model of agriculture and food distribution. CSA members pay at the start of the growing season to help fund the farmers’ costs and then once harvesting begins, members get a share of the produce grown. 

Avoid buying food that is under boycott due to exploitation of workers or the environment.    

2. Protect your watershed.

New Mexico is a desert, where water is our most precious resource. We have kept traditions around our belief that water is life for hundreds of years and have been inspired by the water protectors at Standing Rock and around the world. We are used to turning on the water in our homes and knowing it will be there when we want it.

Where does your water originate? Are there community groups that monitor the water and care for the watershed? How can you support that work to protect water? 

3. Understand colonization’s impact.

 AFSC's farming program in New Mexico. Photo: Sayrah Namaste/AFSC

Most of us are settlers on Native land. Research the history of the land you live on. Which Native peoples lived on the land you occupy? Where are those peoples now? Use this map as a starting point, and read this informative article on understanding the ideas of decolonization. Challenge yourself to avoid “settler moves to innocence” (page 9). 

4. Advocate for policies that support small, sustainable farms and healthy food. 

The American food system is heavily subsidized. According to a 2006 Oxfam study, 99% of all farm subsidies go to white farmers, which is not representative of the racial makeup of farmers. Many of the largest USDA subsidies go to wealthy agribusinesses, while small sustainable farms get a very small share of the subsidies.  

Advocate for policies at the federal and state level that support small scale sustainable agriculture. 

For example, AFSC New Mexico was able to work with the state legislature to direct funds to local schools to purchase vegetables and fruits from local farmers at a fair price point. This meant small family farms had a strong market they could sell to and the children received nutritious, healthy and often organic food in their school lunches.  

We have also worked on sections of the Farm Bill to direct funds to family farms, farmers of color, and sustainable agriculture. 

Download this guide as a PDF.


These tips were created by Sayrah Namaste and Patrick Jaramillo for their workshop, "Reclaiming Resilience: Lifting Up Traditional Practices and Growing Sustainable Communities in the Face of Climate Disruption," at AFSC's 2017 Centennial summit. See this list and others from the summit online at 

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