Written by Nicole Shimizu, Communications and Outreach Coordinator

According to Foodprint, food justice is “a holistic and structural view of the food system that sees healthy food as a human right and addresses structural barriers to that right.” Food justice aims to make healthy foods accessible and to end the structural inequalities that lead to unequal health outcomes. Food justice might be familiar if you are familiar with environmental justice. The food justice movement draws from the environmental justice movement and there are many intersections between the two as they both strive to address inequalities and create a fair living environment for all.

Statistics highlight the disproportionate impact the current food system has upon minority populations. In the US, “the rate of food insecurity for African-American households is more than double that of white households, while one in five Latinos are food insecure compared with one in ten whites and one in eight Americans overall” (Foodprint). In addition, diabetes and obesity are both chronic conditions that are linked to lack of access to healthy foods. This is link results in the following statistics: “Native Americans are 60 percent more likely to be obese than US whites, and the rate of diagnosed diabetes is 77 percent higher among African-Americans, 66 percent higher among Hispanics, and 18 percent higher among Asians than among whites” (Foodprint). In order to address these disproportionate impacts upon minority populations, actions to support food justice and an equitable food system for all is critical. 

When discussing food justice, the term food sovereignty often comes up. Food sovereignty is defined as the “right of people to healthy and culturally-appropriate food produced through ecologically-sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems” (National Family Farm Coalition). The difference between the two lies in the fact that food sovereignty is all about rights to food and production systems while food justice is focused on addressing the injustices that impact people based on race and class. Ideally, the food justice and food sovereignty movements could work together and build each other up. Food justice could “[spur] short-term action and rights in domestic contexts, while food sovereignty movements support longer-term national, regional and international networks and political action” (Clendenning et al., 2016). 

Our food system is entrenched in historic and racist underpinnings that must be addressed in order to create positive change. If you’re interested in learning more about the historical policies that contributed to the food system of today, Foodprint has many informative and educational resources to explore. By learning about and acknowledging the historical events and policies that have shaped the food system today, we can address current problems and work for a more equitable and healthy food system. 


Clendenning, Jessica. “Food justice or food sovereignty? Understanding the rise of urban food movements in the USA.” Agriculture and Human Values, vol 33, 2016, pp. 165-177, https://link-springer-com.proxy.library.ucsb.edu:9443/article/10.1007/s10460-015-9625-8#Abs1

“Food Sovereignty.” National Family Farm Coalition, 12 Sept. 2019, nffc.net/what-we-do/food-sovereignty/.

“What Is Food Justice and Why Is It Necessary?” FoodPrint, 18 Sept. 2019, foodprint.org/issues/food-justice/.


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