From "Hot Cheetos and Takis" to "Grow Food"

words by Eamon Whalen

The Beats and Rhymes program is at it again. The same North Minneapolis after-school program that brought us the NSJ Crew and the Y.N Rich Kids (who then became Da Rich Kidzz), and their collection of astoundingly high quality, PG-rated viral hits –– Hot Cheetos and Takis, My Bike, Khaki Pants, My Limo, Honor Roll –– have returned with an anthem of food sovereignty. Beats and Rhymes have brought together a new group of kids in collaboration with Appetite For Change, a north-side non-profit that promotes using food as a tool for building "health, wealth and social change." "Grow Food" is the culmination of AFC's summer 2016 Youth Employment and Training Program.

Food is the first step in warding off sickness and preventing chronic illness, but through a combination of our industrialized food system and structural inequality in food production, food has -- historically and currently -- been weaponized against those both eating and growing it. This problem hits poor communities of color like North Minneapolis the hardest in the form of food scarcity, and a lack of affordable nutritionally-enriching options within their community. One of the ways residents are able to combat against this food insecurity is, to grow food.

Food justice has long been at the center of social movements. The Black Panther Party's Free Breakfast For School Children Program was among their earliest, and most successful efforts. Today, former Black Panther Party chairwoman Elaine Brown runs a non-profit community farm in West Oakland. Others like Will Allen, Ron Finley, Michael Twitty and Minnesota resident LaDonna Redmond have been promoting urban agriculture and drawing the connections between food, institutional racism, the legacy of colonialism, public health and economic justice.