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Environmentalist and feminist Vandana Shiva reminds us that we are what we eat

Internationally renowned environmentalist and feminist Vandana Shiva offered her perspective on the college’s 2017–18 intellectual theme, “Who We Are,” during the 2018 Dawley Memorial Lecture, sponsored by the Alan Dawley Center for the Study of Social Justice on Thursday, April 12.

Shiva, who has a PhD in quantum physics and is a recipient of the Alternative Nobel Prize, is an advocate for food justice, biodiverse agriculture, and small farms. Her talk, “The Transnational Politics of Science, Seeds, Power, and Gender,” examined the many ways humans and communities are linked, no matter how different they seem.

“Everything is interconnected; everything is potential, in the making,” said Shiva.

Who we are is connected to how we see ourselves, and she asserts that the way we see ourselves is connected to—of all things—food.

“We are what we eat,” she said. “Food is so important. It is a gift of the sun, the soil, the earth; it is a co-creation of all these things.” She stressed the importance of showing respect for what we eat, as we, too, are part of nature.

Shiva offered some advice on creating a daily routine that is respectful of the earth. “Eating is the most basic act we do every day,” she said. “Think about where your food comes from.” She encouraged listeners to try to eat organically as often as possible. “There is no separation between the health of the planet and our health.”

Shiva is the founder of of Navdanya, an Indian-based organization that protects biodiversity and promotes organic farming. Most traditional small farmers in rural India are women, making it all the more important to work to against the patriarchal narrative still so prominent in many aspects of modern society.


Catherine Bialkowski ’18

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