Food justice activists fight to dismantle structural inequalities which perpetuate monopolized control over our food system, and unequal access to and control over healthy and culturally appropriate food. Check out our food justice glossary for outlines and resources related to food justice topics, our local action page to get involved in Austin, and our anti-racist resources and more resources pages.
Food Justice Background
Because the majority of work cultivating, harvesting, and processing food is done by people of color in the United States, food justice work is led by and for Black, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian American communities. Food justice work fights to dismantle socio-economic structures which are not led by diverse voices and which continue to disproportionately dump environmental externalities onto communities of color.
“The majority of work within the food system is done by people of color, both the planting and cultivating and harvesting of food and the processing of food in plants is done by people of color, and those most impacted by food insecurity are people of color. So we can’t address the issue of food justice unless we look at it through a racial justice lens. It’s impossible. The other aspect of it, I just wanna raise up is, in order to have a food justice movement which really addresses racial justice, the food justice movement has to be led by those who are most impacted by food insecurity and the other injustices within the food system.”-Malik Yahini (source: https://whyhunger.org/category/blog/food-justice-ferguson-means-for-the-food-justice-movement-issue-1/)
- The fight for fair pay, safe workplaces, and healthy environments for farmworkers, delivery and processing plant personnel, and grocery and restaurant workers. Achieving this will require breaking up agribusiness monopolies who underpay and exploit the health and wellness of their predominantly immigrant workforces and empowering community-driven food networks in their place (for recent examples of agribusiness exploitation, see the horrifying ways that Tyson’s chicken and Smithfield pork jeopardized workers lives during COVID-19, for examples of community-driven food networks see Detroit Peoples’ Food Coop and the Black Farmers Network)
- The fight for reparations to give land back to Black Americans, acknowledging the ongoing impact of racially discriminatory USDA loan practices (see episode 5 of the podcast “1619”, Black land loss graphics here, or for a whole dang book Land Justice edited by Justine M. Williams and Eric Holt Giménez)
- The movement for food sovereignty, or equitable control over how food is produced, distributed, and consumed with a focus on dismantling structural racism and establishing community-driven networks (also see agroecology, and La Via Campesina)
- Acknowledgement that human and ecological environments are not separate but intertwined. Efforts to support and revitalize healthy agrarian ecosystems must be tethered to the fight to dismantle structural racism and protect all people’s right to clean water and a healthy environment
- The fight for affordable housing reform, a fair living wage, and anti-displacement in response to gentrification (see AJC and Texas Housers locally, Bernie Sanders’s campaign for his take on the national context). When folks can’t afford where they’re living, food is the first sacrifice. Because of this, dismantling racist housing and economic policies is an important component of “food justice”
While this list is not comprehensive, it provides a jumping off point for understanding the diversity of socioeconomic factors implicated in “food justice”. Check out our “Glossary” section for background and resources on more topics.