What is Food Justice?
Food justice refers to “a grassroots initiative emerging from communities in response to food insecurity and economic pressures that prevent access to healthy, nutritious, and culturally appropriate foods.”
The movement began in the mid 90s in the States and the concept has since spread worldwide. In its original form, Food Justice lacked effectiveness as the first group consisted entirely of white Americans, neglecting to acknowledge the defeats of black and brown communities who were actually facing food insecurity. It was later emphasized that food insecurity was an intersectional issue, undeniably connecting with social issues such as racism, sexism, ableism and more; and that this connection can no longer be ignored.
Many studies out of that area were also poor, simply naming communities made up of majority Black, Indigenous and other people of colour as concerningly obese due to their own doing. It was later argued that such reports neglected to take into account the social and economic barriers that prevent such groups from accessing fresh and nutritious food.
Today, as a now global phenomenon, BIPOC communities here in Toronto are taking the food justice movement back into their own hands. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, deep inequalities were revealed, especially in the realms of the Canadian food system. Advocates like Melana Roberts who is chair of Food Secure Canada have made it their mission to finally tackle those inequalities and find a permanent solution to food insecurity in racialized and underprivileged communities here in Toronto.
Almost 30 percent of Black households experience food insecurity, as well, they are 3.6 times more likely to be food insecure than white households, according to Statistics Canada data compiled by PROOF, a food insecurity policy and research group out of the University of Toronto, and Foodshare. Prior to the pandemic, only 10 percent of white households reported food insecurity, compared to 28 percent of Black households, according to the Toronto Fallout Report. These humbling statistics further outline the issues our communities are facing, and it's time to make a change.
Urban farming is the new craze and you can participate in it too. Everyone deserves access to fresh, nutritious and culturally appropriate foods, no matter one's socioeconomic status. Food is not a privilege but a right. BIPOC should no longer be subjected to food deserts but have the ability to farm their own food.
To learn more about food justice, food sovereignty and racial justice, check out FoodShare Toronto.
A bit more about FoodShare: At FoodShare, [they] aim to centre food justice in [their] work by collaborating with and taking [their] cue from those most affected by poverty and food insecurity — Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, People with Disabilities. [Their] goal is to inspire long-term solutions for a food system where everyone has access to affordable, fresh, nutritious food. [They] reach over 260,000 people each year.