What You Need To Know About The Food Justice Movement

You probably know that it’s important to eat healthy foods for your health and wellness. Eating healthy foods decreases your risk for heart disease, some types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and many other maladies. The general idea of the food justice movement is to create access to healthy foods for everyone. Rather than blaming people for eating unhealthy foods, the food justice movement looks to change the overall structural problems that create food deserts and food insecurity among other problems.

The term food desert is the generalized term for a few phenomena including food swamps, food mirages, and food apartheid. Each of these is a slightly different variation on the same problem— lack of access to healthy foods. Traditionally, a food desert is a place where there are no supermarkets or grocery stores in an area which means that residents have to go further away to purchase healthy food options. A food swamp is an area with a high density of places to buy highly processed food. A food mirage is when an area has healthy food but it is too expensive for residents to buy. Lastly, food apartheid is a newer term that argues that food deserts are not just overlooked areas, but rather, areas that have been deemed not good enough to deserve grocery stores and supermarkets.

Grocery Shopping Photo by Mehrad Vosoughi from Unsplash

Food insecurity means that someone does not have steady access to enough food. Tragically this affects 1 in 8 Americans. There are ranges of food insecurity that go from high food security, which is having no problems with accessing nutritional food, to very low food security, which is having disrupted access to nutritional foods throughout the year.

woman wearing mask grocery shopping Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

An important consequence to note is that the populations most adversely affected by food injustice are communities of color. The rate of food insecurity for African American households is around double what it is for white households. One reason for this is that communities of color are disproportionately affected by poverty. Another is informal segregation, exacerbated by white flight that started in the 1950s and continues (in differing forms) today. For these reasons and more, the food justice movement is intrinsically linked to the civil rights movement.

In a developed nation, access to nutritious foods should be a right. The food justice movement seeks equity for everyone when it comes to nutritious foods. We can and should work to make equal access to healthy food a reality.