B. Enter Food Justice: A Community Movement for Change
The food justice movement, which includes a wide variety of communities, organizations, and scholars, has emerged as a response to inequality in the food system. Described as the movement to address food oppression, the food justice analysis embraces the concept that every person has a right to healthy and safe food, and that any risks or benefits related to food should be distributed fairly.
Central to food justice is adequate access to food, an issue advocated by the “community food security movement,” and an understanding of food systems and environments. Achieving food justice requires “grow[[ing], sell[ing] and eat[ing] healthy food.” Healthy food is generally defined as food that is “fresh, nutritious, affordable, culturally-appropriate and grown locally with care for the well-being of the land, workers and animals.”
Employing a working definition of food justice helps focus us on our society's inherent “hierarchies of power” which, 1) create the structural inequalities inherent in environmental and food injustice; and 2) provide the circumstances within which advocates must direct potential policy or legal solutions. Significantly, even when lack of access to healthy food is identified as a major social problem in a particular area, policy is generally not implemented to address it, and when discussions do occur, the proposed solution is often within the private sector.
The scope of food justice includes an analysis of how food is produced, how far it travels, and how it is distributed. This analysis addresses the impact of the food system on farm workers, farmers, people of color, and people living in poverty. By exposing the reality of communities of color and low-income communities (and the ecosystems, environments, and public health of these groups), the food justice movement illuminates the ways in which power and privilege impact our relationship to food. By interweaving discourses of food security, health, social justice, and an equitable environment, food justice organizations “explicitly rais[e] awareness about the complex interconnectivity of the uneven distribution of resources. . .the health of. . .citizens, and their ability to produce and access food.”