Hoping to broaden the focus of HWS Food Week 2014, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Joel Helfrich has organized a discussion titled, “Ecofeminism and Veganism: Feminist Intersections with Other Animals and the Earth.” The event, which is open to the public, brings social ecofeminist educators and activists pattrice jones and Lori Gruen to campus to lead a discussion on Friday, Oct. 17 from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Geneva Room.
“All too often discussions surrounding food studies are narrowly focused on only local food or only sustainable food, or only on food justice,” Helfrich says. “What we’re hoping to do is not only expand the discussion, but hopefully complicate the discussion so that if we’re talking about food justice, we’re also incorporating issues like animal rights, and if we’re talking about locally grown food, we’re also talking about what kinds of food and what types of animals we’re raising for consumption.”
HWS Food Week is a week-long celebration leading up to Food Day, a national movement for healthy, affordable and sustainable food that will be observed on campuses across the country on Friday, Oct. 24. The celebrations at HWS, which run from Oct. 17 to Oct. 24, will focus on this year’s Food Day theme of food access and justice.
Gruen and jones will kick-off the week with a discussion that highlights the various ways in which to create a more complete definition of ecofeminism by linking ecofeminism to veganism, animal liberation and other social justice issues.
Helfrich says the discussion is another attempt to “get students to think about the links between the food on their plates and environmental degradation.”
Issues like the “animal question” of why non-human animals deserve human rights, and a focus on plant-based diets will be addressed by Gruen and jones before opening the discussion to questions and participation from the audience. Gruen and jones will also be speaking at the Seneca Falls Dialogues Conference, which runs from Oct. 17 to 19 in Seneca Falls.
Gruen is a professor of philosophy, feminist, gender, and sexuality studies and environmental studies at Wesleyan University where she also coordinates Wesleyan’s animal studies program. She is the author of several books, including “The Ethics of Captivity;” “Ethics and Animals: An Introduction;” and most recently, “Ecofeminism: Feminist Intersections with Other Animals and the Earth.” She has also authored several articles, been quoted in the New York Times, and has given interviews to national radio outlets and programs such as NPR and “Philosophy Talk.”
jones is the co-founder of VINE Sanctuary, an LGBTQ-run farm and animal sanctuary that works within the extended ecofeminism understanding of the ecofeminist oppressions. Currently, jones lives in Minneapolis, where she teaches psychology and women’s studies at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, as well as gender studies at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul. She has written for a variety of print and online alternative publications and is also the author of “Aftershock: Confronting Trauma in a Violent World: A Guide for Activists and Their Allies.” She has contributed to several other books, including: “Sistah Vegan,” “Igniting a Revolution: Voices in Defense of the Earth,” and “Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?: Reflections of the Liberation of Animals.” She also serves on the editorial boards of the Journal for Critical Animal Studies and the Peace Studies Journal.
“This is really a great opportunity for HWS to let students know what’s out there and what’s available to them regarding food justice,” Helfrich says. “There’s a number of students on campus who are vegan, vegetarian, or who volunteer with local animal shelters. The goal is to get students thinking about all of the connected issues that go with those experiences, whether they’re work experiences or lived experiences.”