Written By, Jamie Toris
Here we are. In a world that’s been paused. We’re living in unprecedented times. Many remain in quarantine due to the present dangers of the Covid-19 pandemic and now there are daily demonstrations honoring some of the many Black victims of cops while calling for police reform. So, businesses are in a very unique position- both brick and mortar establishments and especially those with an online presence: how are these companies running given the current climate (if at all)? What are they doing to voice their support and commit to actionable change? Where does Earth Matterz stand on all of this?
One of our core beliefs is that having equitable access to healthy, organic food is a big step in creating a more peaceful, healthy planet, so we feel it is our responsibility to act as a bridge in providing access to healthful food to the community we love. This is where ‘intersectional environmentalism’ comes into play. Intersectional environmentalism was brought to our attention from fellow blogger, Leah Thomas (@GreenGirlLeah)- a contributing writer at The Good Trade whose passions include wellness, inclusion, and the environment. She discusses environmental justice- “the crossover between social justice and environmentalism, where the inequity in environmental degradation is also considered.” Intersectional environmentalism is an “inclusive version of environmentalism that advocates for both the protection of people and the planet. It identifies the ways in which injustices happening to marginalized communities and the earth are interconnected. It brings injustices done to the most vulnerable communities, and the earth, to the forefront and does not minimize or silence social inequality. Intersectional environmentalism advocates for justice for people + the planet. (TheGoodTrade/EnvironmentalJustice.org)” It is with this in mind that we feel beholden to the community we serve to continue our work supporting those who buy from us, those we donate to, and the small farmers we give voice to.
But, the reality is that there’s a lot more that goes into a company continuing to run than saying, “Yeah, we’re still delivering” or “Yes, we’re still open.” It takes humans. It takes dedicated, empathetic, and tireless individuals who believe to their core that a nourished world begets a more peaceful and patient world; that there is indeed a crossover between advocating for a well-fed Earth and the attainability of that for systematically marginalized and oppressed groups.
At this point for Earth Matterz last weekend, CEO and Founder Kali Star was stuck weighing the cost of continuing to deliver or halting services. That’s when she brought the team on for an hour-long call. “When it came time to ask ourselves as a company whether or not we should deliver this week, drivers were like,”
“we’re doing this.”
Who they are as people, they’re inspired to work for a company with integrity. During this call last weekend, we decided that if we start packing at 4am (a highly unusual break from our norm) and power through, deliver, and finish by 1pm, “it would allow drivers to get off the streets before protests or police blockades and curfews could disrupt their work,” says Kali. There’s a dual responsibility between seeing that her workers are never at risk but also to be unwavering in the commitment to nourishing the world during hard times by providing consistency.
“To own a business like this, I really have to think about them; I have to think about all these things. We’ve never missed a delivery before and we’ve never had to. We’ve had so many challenges over the years whether it’s the weather or a farm missing some of the harvest, etc….and we get through it.” says Kali.
We know we need to take good care of ourselves so we can take care of other people.
“When we’re fed well, and taking good care of ourselves, we can feed other people well.”
The need for these services and subsequent risk, though, extends even beyond
the workers and the drivers. The farmers we love and partner with must also share our dedication to remaining consistent to the community, and accountable for providing relief and support to a changing world.
So, while a 4am start time isn’t everyday life for our team of packers and drivers, it is for Farmer Gene Etheridge of Etheridge Farms who says he’s used to waking up at 4am.
“I wake up and once a week, I end up having a 36 hour work day that includes the farmers market.”
It’s important for us to partner with these farms because for one thing, conventional farming has created dead soil, so the farmers growing organically (and those that can’t afford certification) are enriching the soil more effectively than big agriculture farms. Another way of serving our community is ensuring these smaller farmers, continue to have an outlet for spreading their produce, especially now that some farmers markets are closed due to Covid-19 restrictions and the protests. This is how we protect the voices of smaller but extremely important farms.
“The more small organic farms we have, the better it is for the Earth and people.” Kali says
Another partner in our endeavors is Matias Barang of Hasi Bread. Matias had let Earth Matterz know that there would be no Hasi bread in the latest round of deliveries, and for a reason Earth Matterz can fully get behind. In a recent Instagram post, he concisely and passionately clarified his decision of solidarity in the BLM movement.
“We support his choice to not bake bread this week. We’re so grateful to not only have the best bread available to us, and appreciate the incredible baker behind it and what he stands for. ” ~Kali
“…it’s difficult to find the words. Social media is a start. Educating ourselves on the roots of systemic and institutionalized racism. Donating to organizations that can bring actionable change. Protest. There is no “right way to do it. The “right way” would contradict the foundation of change. I stand with disruption. Hasi bread will hold space for voices that need to be heard this week so we’re off social media. We’re also not taking online orders. This is how we’re choosing to disrupt. Bread can wait.”
We’re proud to be a company that has a history of actively giving back to the community by supporting the people and the call for change. During the 99% protest, we continued to get food to people who both ordered from us and we were able to donate to organizations that distributed food to people in tents. Kali asks of her own company, “What’s the most ‘peaceful warrior’ way of handling things? Spreading good food. There are people in tents that need food and we want to be able to give donations to people, also.”
One such organization we currently donate to is ‘New Earth,’ a group that “provides mentor-based arts, educational, and vocational programs that empower juvenile justice and system-involved youth ages 13-25 to transform their lives, move toward positive, healthier life choices, and realize their full potential as contributing members of our community. (newearthlife.org).”
Maybe in these chaotic times, we can take these instances as lessons in empathy on what our individual daily experiences are like- whether we’re a small farmer, a delivery driver, whoever- and work to translate that onto a larger plane- one that takes into account our differences and similarities, shows value for these qualities, and upholds their freedom to be as they are and do what they do.
Earth Matterz values peace and wellness through nourishment and we can’t pretend to hold these values without acknowledging the systemic threat to the Black members of our community. Earth Matterz is proud to stand with Black Lives Matter and all who support it in an effort to continually fight the institutionalized racism inherit in our country and specifically in our police force. We’ve committed ourselves to upholding human rights in the past by protecting access to nourishment and we’re continuing to honor that same commitment in the current climate. Intersectional environmentalism has to be our absolute way of life as a company that cares about the Earth and its inhabitants.
We are donating to some extremely important organizations this weekend and we’ve provided links for all those who would like to do the same.
Until next time, The Earth Matterz Team