Tuesday, September 8, 2015
What Are You Eating? Part Three
Continuing on with our food series, today I'm here to discuss one of my favorite things: justice! Specifically, I'd like to talk about justice movements surrounding food. This is a quick overview of some very important and complex topics, so if any of these interest you, I highly recommend doing some research and looking into them further!
First of all, the most obvious justice movement here is the food justice movement. The food justice movement encompasses a wide range of groups and non-profit organizations, and the general goal of the food justice movement is providing all people with access to healthy food. Though many of us take our food access for granted, according to the USDA, 23.5 million people in the U.S. live in food deserts. A food desert is defined as "urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options." This leads to many health problems for populations living in these areas, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. The food justice movement works to eradicate food deserts and the health issues and inequity they cause. Some wonderful examples of organizations working in the food justice movement are the Community Food and Justice Coalition, Oakland Food Policy Council, and Garden To Table. Their websites are great places to look to see food justice organizing in action!
Closely tied to food justice is the concern of environmental justice. Taken from its designated Wikipedia page, "Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies." When we are talking about environmental justice in terms of food, we are really talking, at least in part, about our food system. Our industrial food system, as I mentioned earlier in the series, is a bit of a mess. Thanks to the way we grow our food, many communities suffer from polluted water and land, causing many instances of sickness among residents (an excellent example of this is captured in the documentary Thirsty For Justice, a film I highly recommend!). Often those communities most affected by harms like this are communities containing high populations of people of color, a phenomenon often referred to as environmental racism. Environmental justice movements focusing on this aspect of their work attempt to help create food systems that are not harmful to any communities, and therefore environmentally just. The aforementioned food justice organizations are great examples of this being done! Community garden projects across the nation are also a wonderful, and widespread example of food and environmental justice enacted.
The last cause we will discuss today is closely related to the first two: labor justice. Labor justice initiatives concerned with the food system support farmworkers and their ability to organize and secure fair treatment and wages. Over 20 million people work in the food system in the U.S., and they are among the poorest and most exploited people in the world. Labor justice movements aim to give farmworkers the rights and status they deserve. Some great examples of this project in action include the Fair World Project (which has some great info), Center for Farmworker Families, whose executive director came and spoke at UCSC last year (she's an awesome lady, very passionate), and the work of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers union.
So, those are the justice movements associated with food, explained to the best of my knowledge. As you can see, your food choices have social justice implications! They affect people on environmental, occupational, and access levels. In part four of the series, I will discuss how to act on all the information I've given you and what you can do to promote more sustainable, just food systems. Are you excited? I am!!
Note: I will not be in town for the next 2 weeks or so, so my blog will not be fully updated until the week of the 22nd of September. I have scheduled one post though, so come back for that!
Photos: 1, 2