As a blogger at Ultimate Paleo Guide and nutritionist for Ultimate Meal Plans, I have spent the last three years talking about food and nutrition on the internet. This has been a dream job ever since I had a life-changing experience due to the paleo diet nearly seven years ago.
But now, our society is in the midst of an uprising – racial justice, police brutality, white supremacy, and the oppression of marginalized communities are at the forefront of the conversations nowadays. This is a critical moment in our history.
Acknowledging this crucial fact, I cannot, in good conscience, continue to crank out content around food and diets without addressing the issues that underlie our food system.
As a blonde-haired, blue-eyed white woman, I have spent my life benefitting from a multitude of privileges from which I did nothing to earn other than being born to parents who gave me these traits. I can’t claim to know anything about experiencing oppression and its detrimental effects.
This period of heightened civil unrest has forced me to take a good look at all of this. Truth be told, this is something I should have been engaging with a long time ago. But privilege is not having to confront these things because it doesn’t directly affect me. I see it now – and I refuse to look away. So that means I’m in the process of examining all the systems in which I function – including food.
A cornerstone piece of the paleo diet is to eat whole foods – organically and sustainably grown. As a nutritionist, I have been encouraging clients to choose this option whenever possible.
But the simple fact is that this is not feasible or available to everyone. We don’t live in this fairytale world where everyone has the same opportunities and privileges.
It’s time the food blogopshere starts talking openly and honestly about food justice.
What is food justice?
The food justice movement is rooted in the fact that the way our food system was built and currently functions is inequitable. This can be seen when looking at statistics for food insecurity across races.
Food insecurity is defined as a lack of consistent access to food to support a healthy life. While this issue affects people across the board, the rate of food insecurity for non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic, American Indian, and Native Alaskan households is nearly twice the rate for white households. Time and time again, research shows that food insecurity affects Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) at a higher rate than white people.
There are so many factors that play into this including institutionalized racism and economic barriers to food access. Low income and communities of color are often prevented from growing their own food and live in areas defined as food deserts or food apartheid. These areas do not have access to nutritious food – whether geographically or economically. Again, this is not to say that white people aren’t affected by this issue – but it’s important to understand that BIPOC are affected disproportionately.
The food justice movement is a grassroots movement that’s attempting to address and remedy this situation. This is a movement that goes beyond just food.
It looks at vehicles of systemic oppression – income, race, and colonial impacts. It looks at land and environmental justice. It addresses migrant farmer’s rights. It addresses climate change. The aim of the food justice movement is to move populations and communities towards food sovereignty.
Food sovereignty is defined in the Declaration of Nyéléni as “the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.” This can be achieved when those people who are directly marginalized by the previously mentioned systems of oppression move towards control of their own food systems. As Cheyenne Sundance explained on the Ageless podcast, this happens when they can control the land, control the seed, control the hunting ground, and take care of their community.
Food justice should be something we all care about. If you want to be a white ally in this fight for equality, I’ve listed some ways you can support this movement to create a more nutritious, sustainable, and culturally appropriate world for everyone.
Support local farmers and food systems in your area
When we support local farmers, we’re taking control away from big corporations and putting that power back in the hands of farmers that are doing things the right way.
You can find local farms in your area by using this map tool from Local Harvest. This is a great way to support your community, your neighbors, and work towards a more equitable food system for all.
Support organizations doing the work
There are SO MANY amazing organizations that are actively working towards food justice. Many of these are BIPOC-owned and led. Consider following them on their website or social media accounts, sharing their resources, educating yourself, and PAYING them for their work.
An education resource center that presents radical research and analysis for food justice & food sovereignty movements.
Soul Fire Farm is a BIPOC*-centered community farm committed to ending racism and injustice in the food system.
Youth and Femme-led Toronto-based farm rooted in food justice and a resistance to an oppressive food system.
Building a cooperative food economy, powered by the visionary leadership of young people of color! We partner with food and land co-ops across the US and Canada to embody cooperative values + economics.
A collective of ✊🏿 farmers, educators, scientists, agrarians, seed keepers, organizers, and researchers guiding a political education process.
Black Urban Growers (BUGS) is an organization committed to building networks and community support for growers in both urban and rural settings. Through education and advocacy around food and farm issues, we nurture collective Black leadership to ensure we have a seat at the table.
The Land Loss Prevention Project (LLPP) was founded in 1982 by the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers to curtail epidemic losses of Black owned land in North Carolina.
Planting Justice is a grassroots organization with a mission to empower people impacted by mass incarceration and other social inequities with the skills and resources to cultivate food sovereignty, economic justice, and community healing.
Consult this list from Chowhound for more amazing organizations who are directly in the fight.
Support urban farms and community gardens in your area
Urban farming and community gardens are ways that we can put food systems back into the hands of communities. Research if there are efforts going on in your city and directly support those. Google “community garden” + “city” to find those in your area. If you’re a white person with land that’s not being used, contact local organizations and see if they could use the space. If you want to learn more about urban agriculture and food justice, check out this article.
We have a responsibility
It’s time that we start talking about – and fighting for – food justice for everyone. Food bloggers and influencers have a responsibility to lift and support the voices and people who are leading the way. I’ll continue educating myself, sharing what I’ve learned, and taking actionable steps towards food justice. I hope you’ll join me.