Our food systems form a complex web of corporate actions, government regulations, and human needs. Addressing the barriers discussed in this Comment, requires “a fundamental commitment to social justice,” without which “the estimated 1-2 percent of Americans who eat organic food will be indistinguishable from the 1-2 percent who control almost all of this country's wealth and power.” Our nation's history of discriminatory zoning and other racist government policies has created segregation, inequality in food access, and urban decay. Intentional zoning practices, local community investment, as well as federal, state, and local governments are all key pieces of the food access puzzle. In order to be effective, comprehensive change must include a combination of community-based solutions and elimination of racism from the structural levels of our food system. Addressing institutionalized racism in our food system is imperative, and will require changes to the structures that hold food inequalities in place.
Importantly, there is a distinction between fulfilling one's need for food and fulfilling one's human right to food. When people do not have the opportunity to “influence what and how they are fed. . .their right to adequate food is not being met, even if they get all the nutrients their bodies need.” The right to food reflects President Franklin Roosevelt's declaration that ‘freedom from want’ is one of four fundamental freedoms in our nation's original understanding of universal human rights. When it comes to universal human rights, all people, “must have some institutionalized remedies available to them” that they can access when they feel that they are being treated unjustly.
Food justice has the capacity to reorient the food movement towards addressing inequities while seeking to transform the food system as a whole. Additionally, “[f]ood justice is integrated into other social justice movements, such as those concerned with community economic development, the environment, housing, or transportation.” If this integration does not take place within the context of a clear understanding of historical and present-day institutionalized racism, we will be unable to build an inclusive, successful coalition that makes the changes needed to achieve equality on all levels. Hopefully, however, as we come to understand the following sentiment, stated by Justo Gonzalez, we will continue implementing community-supported solutions and institutional changes:
The first thing we must do is realize that, more often than not, hunger is a political problem. ‘Politics,’ in the strictest sense, is the manner in which humans divide and distribute power and resources. People are not hungry in this country and elsewhere because they don't know how to raise food or are lazy . . . . They are hungry because they have no access to power, and therefore no access to food.
. The author wishes to recognize the immutable impact that White privilege has on her viewpoints and analysis of any issue, and the reality that the imbalanced power dynamics between people of color activists and White anti-racists often reinforces the operation of White supremacy even within the movement to eradicate racism. She would also like to acknowledge the generations of racial justice activists whose brave work paves the way for this discussion about food justice. Analysis of systemic racism, such as appears in this comment, was forged by people of color who have been engaged in the struggle for liberation for centuries.