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Food Justice

Food Justice

Robert Gottlieb
Anupama Joshi
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Food Justice
    Book Description:

    In today's food system, farm workers face difficult and hazardous conditions, low-income neighborhoods lack supermarkets but abound in fast-food restaurants and liquor stores, food products emphasize convenience rather than wholesomeness, and the international reach of American fast-food franchises has been a major contributor to an epidemic of "globesity." To combat these inequities and excesses, a movement for food justice has emerged in recent years seeking to transform the food system from seed to table. In Food Justice, Robert Gottlieb and Anupama Joshi tell the story of this emerging movement. A food justice framework ensures that the benefits and risks of how food is grown and processed, transported, distributed, and consumed are shared equitably. Gottlieb and Joshi recount the history of food injustices and describe current efforts to change the system, including community gardens and farmer training in Holyoke, Massachusetts, youth empowerment through the Rethinkers in New Orleans, farm-to-school programs across the country, and the Los Angeles school system's elimination of sugary soft drinks from its cafeterias. And they tell how food activism has succeeded at the highest level: advocates waged a grassroots campaign that convinced the Obama White House to plant a vegetable garden. The first comprehensive inquiry into this emerging movement, Food Justice addresses the increasing disconnect between food and culture that has resulted from our highly industrialized food system.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-28944-3
    Subjects: Environmental Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Series Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)

    I am pleased to present the fifth book in the Food, Health, and the Environment series. This series explores the global and local dimensions of food systems and examines issues of access, justice, and environmental and community well-being. It includes books that focus on the way food is grown, processed, manufactured, distributed, sold, and consumed. Among the matters addressed are what foods are available to communities and individuals, how those foods are obtained, and what health and environmental factors are embedded in food-system choices and outcomes. The series focuses not only on food security and well-being but also on regional,...

  4. Introduction: Taking Root
    (pp. 1-10)

    A year had passed since Hurricane Katrina. Most schools in New Orleans had been destroyed or damaged and had only begun to reopen in 2006. As the rebuilding efforts got under way, education emerged as a critical issue, since the schools had been in such poor shape even before the hurricane. New Orleans residents talked of turning the tragedy into an opportunity to start anew, especially with the school system. But among the voices talking about what needed to be done there was one glaring omission, the voices of the students themselves.

    That omission led to the birth of one...

  5. I An Unjust Food System

    • 1 Growing and Producing Food
      (pp. 13-38)

      On Thanksgiving Day, 1960, Edward R. Murrow introduced hisCBS Reportsprogram with these famous words:

      This scene is not taking place in the Congo. It has nothing to do with Johannesburg or Cape Town. It is not Nyasaland or Nigeria. This is Florida. These are citizens of the United States, 1960. This is a shape-up for migrant workers. The hawkers are chanting the going piece rate at the various fields. This is the way the humans who harvest the food for the best-fed people in the world get hired. One farmer looked at this and said, “We used to...

    • 2 Accessing Food
      (pp. 39-58)

      When Peter Ueberroth, the businessman who helped facilitate the 1984 Olympics Games in Los Angeles, strode to the stage along with executives of four leading supermarket chains, there was much anticipation regarding the promises they were about to make concerning food access in inner-city Los Angeles. The 1992 civil disorders in the city had visibly shaken Mayor Tom Bradley and other policymakers, surprised Ueberroth and other business leaders, and caught the press unaware. It had also forced the political and business elites to confront the enormous economic and social problems of South, Central, and East Los Angeles, where much of...

    • 3 Consuming Food
      (pp. 59-74)

      The mood was festive in Millau, France, as the townspeople gathered in support of the farmers who had decided to target the construction site for a new McDonald’s. Situated in the heart of Roquefort country, Millau had deep culinary and cultural associations for the region as well as for the country. It was 1999, almost twenty-seven years after McDonald’s had first entered the French market. The fast food chain had increased its presence slowly at first, but by the mid-1990s it had begun to grow more rapidly. Targeting a French clientele was a bold gamble, as French writers and politicians...

    • 4 Food Politics
      (pp. 75-98)

      When Barack Obama strode to the podium to announce that former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack was his choice for the thirtieth secretary of agriculture, the selection was greeted with unhappiness by several food justice and alternative food groups. Up until the December 17, 2008, announcement, many of those advocates had sought to weigh in on who would best represent a new type of approach to food and agriculture. Such a change seemed imperative, given the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s history concerning such key issues as food export and global food policy, subsidies for commodity crops, and support for genetically modified...

    • 5 The Food System Goes Global
      (pp. 99-120)

      More than 108,000 people crowded into California’s Central Valley town of Gilroy, “the Garlic Capital of the World,” to celebrate the Thirty-first Annual Garlic Festival. The event, as always, was a colorful affair, with the Garlic Idol singing contest (which once offered a prize of 1,000 gallons of gasoline), the Garlic Festival Cook-Off (the 2009 winning entry was the Spicy Garlic Butter Cookie), or the meet-and-greet Miss Gilroy Garlic. First conceived in the late 1970s to highlight Gilroy’s prominent role in garlic production, the festival had become Gilroy’s claim to fame. Its organizers hoped to seize the Garlic Capital appellation...

  6. II Food Justice Action and Strategies

    • 6 Growing Justice
      (pp. 123-150)

      Nestled in the Connecticut River Valley in western Massachusetts is the city of Holyoke. The poorest city in the state, with more than a quarter of the population living below the poverty line, Holyoke is also home to one of the most dynamic, hands-on, visionary food justice organizations in the country—Nuestras Raíces. For more than a decade, this group has been playing a transformative role in a community where half the residents are Puerto Rican, 60 percent qualify for food stamps, and 70 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.

      Holyoke was once known as...

    • 7 Forging New Food Routes
      (pp. 151-176)

      For the press that had gathered to hear plans about a multi-million-dollar redevelopment of the northern Philadelphia–based Progress Plaza, the nation’s oldest African American–owned shopping center, “the political wattage was blinding,” as aPhiladelphia Inquirerstory characterized the event. The governor was there, as were the mayor of Philadelphia, a state senator, two state representatives, and a city council member, all to announce their support for a new supermarket to be established at the site. The interest was not unexpected: Progress Plaza had been an inspiring but then disappointing Philadelphia story. In 1968, members of the Zion Baptist...

    • 8 Transforming the Food Experience
      (pp. 177-196)

      When Carlo Petrini, the grand ideologue and inspirer of the slow food movement, arrived in Caracas in February 1989 for a meeting of like-minded slow food advocates, he wasn’t prepared for the scene he experienced when his plane touched down. Venezuela was in the midst of a social upheaval. The country had fallen into a severe economic depression, with hundreds of thousands of people out of work and going hungry. The country’s president, Carlos Andrés Pérez Rodríguez, had been forced to implement harsh austerity measures imposed on the country as the condition for receiving a loan from the International Monetary...

    • 9 A New Food Politics
      (pp. 197-220)

      The weather was dreary, yet the room buzzed with excitement. Only five months earlier, on April 4, 1996, the Farm Bill had been signed into law, with a mandate for supporting community food projects (CFPs). The relevant part of the bill—a small item in the overall legislation—provided annual funding for projects that could “meet the needs of low-income people, increase the self-reliance of communities in providing for their own food needs; and promote comprehensive responses to local food, farm, and nutrition issues.” For the groups selected for funding, contracts had to be signed and the money sent out...

    • 10 An Emerging Movement
      (pp. 221-238)

      It started as an idea, not a campaign. Longtime food activist and Maine resident and gardener Roger Doiron, most recently the founder of a group called Kitchen Gardeners International (KGI), felt that proposing a garden at the White House might have some traction. KGI, with its 5,000 members in the United States and a handful of other countries, served as a kind of empowerment, technical assistance, and idea-generating group to promote sustainable food systems through what it called kitchen gardening—people growing their own food in whatever location was possible. Doiron was aware that Michael Pollan had proposed the idea...

  7. Notes
    (pp. 239-280)
  8. Index
    (pp. 281-290)
  9. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)