- Release year: 2018
- Director: Caroline Suh
- Synopsis: “Chef and food writer Samin Nosrat travels the world to explore four basic keys to wonderful cooking, serving up feasts and helpful tips along the way.”
- Where to watch: Netflix
“Salt Fat Acid Heat” is a four-part Netflix docuseries that explores how the titular elements are used in different local cuisines as the heart of the dishes.
The show is inspired by American chef Samin Nosrat’s 2017 cookbook of the same name. Nosrat hosts this docuseries as it investigates the essence of cooking by distilling food down to these four basic elements.
She travels to Italy, Japan, the Yucatán region of Mexico, and her hometown of Berkeley, California, to meet with restaurant chefs, home cooks, and artisans to develop a greater understanding of their unique kitchen fundamentals.
This works to celebrate each cuisine’s country of origin while also unifying their respective food cultures.
The series is a less academic, more accessible introduction to food culture and history due to its presentation as an instructional cooking and travel show. Its anchoring in food culture still makes it highly educational, relevant, and enjoyable to watch.
Related Reading: Check out this article about chef Andy Baraghani’s take on how food can reflect our social and cultural identities.
- Release year: 2012
- Director: Kristi Jacobson
- Synopsis: “1 in 4 kids don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Hunger is a growing epidemic in the U.S., and we can fix it.”
- Where to watch: Amazon Prime
“A Place at the Table” is a documentary that highlights the social and economic implications of hunger in the United States — where more than 50 million people suffer from food insecurity.
The film examines the issue through the stories of a single mother, a second-grader whose health issues are exacerbated by her diet, and a fifth-grader who depends on the generosity of friends and neighbors to eat.
The film suggests that hunger in America doesn’t stem from a true lack of food. Rather, it’s a complex situation fueled by social and governmental apathy.
Among other problems, the documentary cites:
- the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s farm subsidy program rewarding big agribusinesses over family farms
- the higher cost of nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables compared with highly processed foods
- the food stamp system that disqualifies many low-income households from government assistance
While some of the evidence is outdated,“A Place at the Table” is an excellent documentary to watch if you want to better understand how structural inequities lead to disproportionately unequal health outcomes for low-income communities.
Related Reading: Check out this article about America’s “food deserts” — and why some food justice scholars say that’s not the most accurate term.
Best featured products of September 2022.
- Release year: 2021
- Director: Ludo and Otto Brockway
- Synopsis: “Starring globally renowned figures and the world’s leading scientists, changing the way people look at their food or the food industry.”
- Where to watch: Amazon Prime
“Eating Our Way To Extinction” is a documentary that explores our food system, its negative effects on the planet, and the possible repercussions it could have on our future.
The film features various locations worldwide to share testimonials from the Indigenous people most affected by the environmental crisis. They highlight the relationship between the food we eat and our current ecological crisis.
The film argues that the animal agriculture and fishing industries are key factors leading to increases in the rearing of livestock, unsustainable feed production, antibiotic overuse, and deforestation.
Thus, it asks viewers to consider a plant-based diet to counter the effects of environmental destruction.
This documentary has received some criticism for overlooking the influence and culpability of wealth-driven economies, putting the responsibility on individual consumers instead of demanding accountability from corporations and governments.
However, it is a good introduction to the relationship between food culture and climate change — particularly for those looking for more insight into how our personal dietary habits may affect the global population.
Related Reading: Check out this article offering nine tips for reducing your carbon footprint in the kitchen.
- Release year: 2020
- Director: Sanjay Rawal
- Synopsis: “Native Americans on the front lines of a growing movement reconnect with spiritual and cultural identities that were devastated by genocide.”
- Where to watch: Netflix, Amazon Prime
“Gather” documents the growing movement of Native Americans seeking to reclaim their spiritual, political, and cultural identities through food sovereignty while battling the trauma of centuries of genocide.
It follows members of four different Indigenous nations as they work with community leaders to reclaim and preserve their cultural traditions. Some of these stories include:
- the opening of a restaurant that uses Apache-grown produce to combat food insecurity
- the reintroduction of ancient medicinal and food practices
- a teenager’s academic research into the benefits of a traditional buffalo-based diet compared with a modern beef-based one
The film’s story is anchored in the healing of generational trauma through community collaboration in the fight for food sovereignty. Personal narratives and archival footage contextualize the continued violence that Indigenous people experience.
The documentary argues for restorative revolution and highlights how Native Americans of all ages are using their skills in research, cooking, and foraging in the fight for food justice.
Related Reading: Check out this article about the effort to preserve Indigenous cultures by honoring traditional foods.
- Release year: 2014
- Director: Sanjay Rawal
- Synopsis: “To protest their working conditions and poor wages, farmworkers in Immokalee, Florida, start a hunger strike outside the headquarters of Publix supermarkets.”
- Where to watch: Amazon Prime
“Food Chains” is a documentary that explores agricultural labor in the U.S. and the culpability of the multibillion-dollar supermarket and fast food industries in the abuse of farmworkers.
Also directed by Sanjay Rawal of “Gather,” the film documents the experiences of migrant farmworkers who pick fruits and vegetables sold to large U.S. food wholesalers. It explores the work of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and their hunger strike for better wages.
The workers shown, mainly from Latin America, share their poor working conditions and their experiences with both wage theft and — in some cases — modern-day slavery.
This documentary argues that America’s food system will never be sustainable if it’s based on the abuse of low-income workers. It also highlights how food justice and human rights are inextricably linked.
“Food Chains” sheds light on how farmworkers are abused and enslaved to this day within the borders of the U.S. It focuses on the human cost of our food supply industry, the battle for food equity, and the fight against corporate greed.
Related Reading: Check out this article that dives deep into the challenges associated with our food supply chain — and how you can help fix them.
The bottom line
In order to achieve a sustainable food system, understanding the food justice movement is imperative.
While there’s a growing body of academic work highlighting the movement to empower historically sidelined communities, there are also many accessible documentaries and docuseries working to influence change, too.
Film, after all, is a very powerful visual aid when it comes to increasing awareness of social inequalities, and it can offer a gentle introduction into complex topics.
Watching the films and series mentioned above can certainly provide you with a solid foundation for learning about food justice and culture.
Zuva Seven is a freelance writer and editor-in-chief of the online digital magazine An Injustice!. She’s committed to educating people on general health, wellness and mental health in particular, though she also dabbles in politics and pop culture. Her work has appeared in various publications, including Refinery29, Business Insider, Stylist Magazine, Greatist and many more. When she’s not writing, you can find Zuva strength training in the gym or working towards completing her Bachelor of Arts degree in film, media and gender studies from the University of Cape Town. Follow her on Twitter.
6 Black-Owned Farms and CSAs Doing Revolutionary Work
By Alicia A. Wallace
For Black farmers, there are clear links between sustenance, land ownership, and liberation.
Food producers are a vital but often overlooked part of a community. They employ, train, and empower people while producing and increasing access to culturally relevant food.
Farms are direct producers of food and may sell their goods in local stores or farmers’ markets. They may also participate in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.
These are systems that connect consumers to fruits, vegetables, and other items (like eggs) that are grown or produced within their communities. CSAs often work through delivery services, though some allow you to pick up your weekly or monthly bundle at a farm or local distribution center.
Especially important are farms and CSAs that are Black-owned.
The community work they do — from introducing children to gardening to equipping formerly incarcerated people with the skills to grow food and transform it into livelihood — is critical.
One of the main goals of these organizations is to reduce the number of food deserts, which are neighborhoods with limited or no access to fresh foods, due to a lack of grocery stores or major distances to the nearest ones. Food deserts exist disproportionately in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods.
Fast food chains and convenience stores often dominate food deserts, offering poor nutrition and failing to cater to cultural and dietary needs. This gives residents little choice but to eat processed foods, and it contributes to the deteriorating health of vulnerable communities.
A common response to this issue is “grow your own food.” But for most people, that’s basically impossible.
Black farmers giving the gift of food
Enter the six Black farmers and CSA programs below.
They’re not just filling the gaps for their communities by growing culturally relevant produce and making it available to consumers. They’re also working to restore food sovereignty, connect communities with healthy options, and increase access to and skills for growing food.
Black Farmers Collective Black Farmers Collective in Seattle started 5 years ago in the Yesler neighborhood.
“Yesler is connected to a historic Black neighborhood and used to be an affordable housing project, maybe for about 50 years,” says Hannah Wilson, volunteer farm manager of the Yes Farm urban farm project, an urban farm and partner of Black Farmers Collective.
“We’re now seeing the development of downtown, units being knocked down, and new units going up and being sold at market rate, so we are witnessing gentrification,” says Wilson. “It’s becoming coveted property and Black people are being pushed to the south end.”
The Black Lives Matter movement has raised the profile of organizations, like Black Farmers Collective, that advocate for reconnection to our food source. They also call attention to the ethics of food, including farm worker conditions, pay, and the distribution chain.
“Food deserts are a reality for Black people and people of color. People have to leave their neighborhoods for fresh, organic produce, and this is the result of environmental racism, redlining, and unsustainable development,” Wilson says. “It then leads to disparities in health.”
Black Farmers Collective is focused on intentional engagement with the community. When starting community gardens, its founders noticed that many Black people weren’t able to use them, due to barriers like location, transportation, and time.
Wilson emphasizes the need for more farms, noting that funding would help the collective acquire the space and skills needed to run successful projects.
“Yes Farm is a baby of the collective, and we hope to do more. We’re now focused on building community and running education programs for schools,” Wilson says. “A class can grow in a row or a bed, take food home, and learn to cook with it. These are skills they will have for life.”
Kale, collard greens, mustard greens, peas, beans, squash, radishes, turnips, and chamomile are among the crops on the 2-acre farm. In the near future, when funding allows, CSA boxes will be available on a sliding price scale, if not free of charge.
Swanson Family Farm
Wayne Swanson, also known as Farmer Wayne, runs Swanson Family Farm in Hampton, Georgia. He, his wife, and his son raise cows, sheep, goats, and pigs on their farm. They also run a buyers club that connects directly with consumers.
“I was always outdoorsy,” Swanson says. “I love the woods, and I spent summers with my grandparents on their farm. My farm has been a hobby for 14 years and a business for 5 to 6 years.”
The farm has a wide consumer base, with people who come from all over Georgia and even out of state to get their meat.
Farmer Wayne has always been determined to run a sustainable farm. He credits his ability to remain strong during the COVID-19 pandemic to his farm having better conditions than the big businesses where workers are in small spaces and more susceptible to contracting the virus.
As those businesses shut down, people turned to local farmers.
“The animals are my staff. I started with chickens, then cows, then sheep and pigs. The system we have here mimics how the animals want to live. They want to move, graze, access ponds, and access clean water,” says Swanson. “The neighbors must have thought it was ridiculous, but I would stand in the field with cows, watching them to see what they want.”
Swanson Family Farm’s best seller is ground beef. But along with livestock, they also raise bees for honey. The success of this small business is in its simplicity and attention to the natural ecosystem.
“Really, we’re grass farmers, and animals help with that, and the byproduct is honey,” he says. “It’s about the ecosystem, being very sensitive and in tune to that.”
The Swansons plan to open another farm in New Jersey at the end of the summer in 2020.
Farms to Grow, Inc.
Promote, document, and improve: These are the stated goals of Farms to Grow, Inc., a farm in Oakland, California, that was co-founded by Dr. Gail P. Myers and Gordon Reed in 2004.
Its focus is on preserving the local environment while helping Black and underserved farmers create and maintain their own farms to grow food for their communities.
Projects include the Freedom Farmers Market, hands-on in-school programs, after-school cooking classes, and connecting people to farmers within their communities. Its CSA program also encourages farmers to donate 10 percent of crops for meals for unhoused people.
Soul Fire Farm
The driving force of Soul Fire Farm — a Black-owned farm in Petersburg, New York — is to uproot racism in the food system through justice, ecology, and healing. They see the environmental impact of unsustainable practices that disproportionately affect Black people, as well as the potential for reconnecting with the land to heal communities.
One of the ways they hope to do that in 2020 is by building at least six urban gardens for the Capital District, which is the metropolitan region surrounding Albany, New York. They also aim to train at least 130 new farmer-activists through 1-week programs.
Mother’s Finest Family Farm
Samantha Foxx owns 2.5 acres in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is leasing more land to expand production of Mother’s Finest Family Farm. She started the farm after deciding to be what she never saw as a child: a Black farmer wearing lipstick.
Foxx includes her crops in 14-week CSA boxes, along with products such as honey, shea honey butter, healing salves, and elderberry syrup. The farm includes bees, mushrooms, worms, and a variety of produce.
Foxx is a beekeeper and has a certification from 4-H, a program originally started by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to teach kids life skills like farming and animal care. Mother’s Finest also offers beekeeping classes for those interested in it as a business or hobby.
Foxx often teaches classes herself. And she’s involved all of her children in the business, including her 6-year-old son, who goes along with Foxx when she checks on her beehives.
Through her work, Foxx is reclaiming the land and encouraging other Black people to renew connections to the earth, transforming the narrative from one of slavery to one of community building.
Gangstas to Growers
In Atlanta, Georgia, community organizer Abiodun Henderson has been running an agribusiness training program for at-risk and formerly incarcerated youth for 4 years. It’s called Gangstas to Growers.
In a 3-month program, trainees participate in yoga classes, attend seminars, and work on a cooperative farm. The program integrates life skills with sessions ranging from financial literacy to cooking.
Participants earn wages and gain skills in production and business management. They not only grow and harvest peppers themselves, but transform them into a retail product. Sweet Sol hot sauce, named by program participants in a marketing class, is sold to help the project become self-sufficient.
Upon completion of the program, participants find job opportunities in the food business with Henderson’s assistance. The goal is to reach and assist 500 young people by 2025, giving them an alternative to the limited prospects often facing Black youth.
Supporting Black-owned agriculture
You can support Black-owned farms and CSAs by subscribing to their product boxes, encouraging your favorite restaurants to source food from them, and donating to their programs.
For Hannah Wilson from Black Farmers Collective, there are clear links between sustenance, land ownership, and liberation for Black people who farm.
“For the Black community to find liberation, we need to access more land and control growth of our own food — not rely on the same system that has oppressed us. We need to figure out what food sovereignty means, grow culturally relevant food, and cut the supply chain shorter and shorter,” she says. “It’s important for community to have places to gather and build trust. I have personally found healing working with the land, and I want this to be available to the entire community.”
Supporting Black-owned farms and CSAs shifts power and attends to the needs of their communities, one veggie at a time.
Alicia A. Wallace is a queer Black feminist, women’s human rights defender, and writer. She is passionate about social justice and community building. She enjoys cooking, baking, gardening, traveling, and talking to everyone and no one at the same time on Twitter.
8 Empowered Ecofeminists Fighting for Justice
By Alicia A. Wallace
Climate change is a pressing issue worldwide and disproportionately affects the most vulnerable people among us.
Extreme weather conditions and superstorms are some of the effects we see, but droughts, food insecurity, economic instability, and displacement are what vulnerable populations experience on a consistent basis.
We’ve long been warned about the consequences of fossil fuel extraction, but climate change affects not just the environment but also the lives of People of Color, young people, residents of small island nations, women, LGBTQIA+ people, and people experiencing poverty.
Many climate activists are taking an intersectional approach to their work, considering the identities of the people whose lives are disrupted by climate disaster.
In particular, ecofeminists are dedicated not only to raising awareness and demanding action on the climate crisis but also to ensuring that the response is equitable, centering the most vulnerable.
Here are 8 ecofeminists doing radical work to bring about equity and environmental justice.
1. Irene Vázquez
Irene Vázquez is a Black Mexican American poet, journalist, and editor from Houston, Texas, who writes about Black feminist ecopoetics, placemaking, and futures. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in:
- the Texas Observer
- Sargasso: A Journal of Caribbean Literature and Culture
Through her reporting, Vázquez amplifies the stories of climate justice organizers and hopes to inspire people to act for change.
“Poetry helps me break down overwhelming topics like climate change or carcinogenic pollution and deal with them on an intimate, person-to-person level,” she says.
“My writing also helps me imagine new ways of being in right relation with the natural world outside of ways that have been forced upon us by colonization and white supremacy.”
Vázquez sees climate change as a result of industrialization and colonization that’s connected to the dehumanization of Black people and continued settler occupation of Indigenous land.
“When colonizers don’t treat Black people as human, Black communities are displaced after climate disaster. When Indigenous land is occupied by settler governments, the natural world is commodified and exploited, and communities’ health is intentionally neglected,” she says.
Vázquez adds, “Anyone working or writing about climate change should center the needs of these communities as they seek to build a more just future, lest the world we seek to build continue to perpetuate the problems of this one.”
2. Jhannel Tomlinson
Jhannel Tomlinson is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography and Geology at University of the West Indies, Jamaica, whose research interweaves community-based adaptation to climate change, environmental justice, and vulnerable groups.
Her accomplishments and awards include:
- co-founder of GirlsCARE (Climate Action for Resilience and Empowerment)
- co-founder of Young People for Action on Climate Change (YPACC) Jamaica
- Caribbean Advisor for the Next Generation Climate Board
- recipient of the Prime Minister’s Youth Award for Environmental Protection in Jamaica (2019)
- named of one of 50Next’s Trailblazing Activists
A scholar and activist, she believes that academia should prompt exploration and understanding of experiences and that scholars’ findings should empower and educate communities.
“Grassroots movements are championing action toward climate justice, and academics should use their platforms and networks to foster communication, collaboration, and cohesion,” she says.
Tomlinson notes that funding for climate change initiatives in developing nations has been and remains a challenge, even in the face of emerging entities such as the Green Climate Fund and Global Environmental Facility.
“While countries in the Global South are the ones contributing the least to climate change, we are among the most vulnerable, and access to the resources to facilitate local adaptation isn’t easily accessible,” she says.
She identifies the red tape involved in gaining access to funding from international donors as a justice issue.
“Countries have to jump through hoops to be considered, and then — even when this is done — it takes some time for approval to be granted,” Tomlinson notes.
“These countries need to be given some consideration based on their existing socioeconomic challenges. Efforts need to be made to allow for easier access to these funds.”
3. Bernard Ferguson
Bernard Ferguson is a Bahamian poet, essayist, and educator. Although they say that it’s by great luck that they’re the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, their work makes it clear that these achievements are by merit.
Ferguson’s awards include:
- the 2019 Hurston/Wright College Writers Award
- the 2019 92Y Discovery Contest
In addition, their writing has been featured, published, or is forthcoming in:
- the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas
- The New York Times Magazine
- The New Yorker
- The Paris Review
Among Ferguson’s work is the article they wrote about Hurricane Dorian’s effects on the Bahamas, declaring that the devastation was — and continues to be — an issue of climate injustice.
For Cave Canem and Lambda Literary, Ferguson wrote “why make promises at all,” a poem they have also shared on their Instagram account. It begins:
why make promises at all if, when the erosion
erodes, there will be nothing left of the roots?
“I think our promises don’t matter unless we’re held accountable for them,” Ferguson says.
They claim that Western capitalist societies are more interested in exploitation than accountability — in opposition to traditional belief systems that emphasize responsibility for one’s community and environment.
“A long time ago, deep down in the truest parts of us, our oldest and wisest selves made a promise to take care of one another, to take care of this planet and the kaleidoscope of life,” they say.
Ferguson wants to see us return to our better selves, take responsibility for our actions, and recognize our interdependence with each other and the earth. These qualities are necessary if we are to survive the climate crisis, and they require mutual care.
“How can we make promises at all if that most basic promise, that most human duty, doesn’t seem to matter any more?” Ferguson asks.
Ferguson calls on people in developed countries to hold their governments accountable for the global climate crisis.
4. Erica Cirino
Erica Cirino, who splits her time between the shores of Long Island and Connecticut, is a science writer and artist who explores the intersection of the human and nonhuman worlds.
Her photojournalistic work is widely published, depicting connections between people and nature. Cirino’s recent book, “Thicker Than Water,” explains the plastic crisis through primarily Black, brown, Indigenous, and rural communities, along with scientists and activists.
“It presents readers with stories revealing the troubling history and vast range of consequences of plastic production, use, and disposal,” she says.
Cirino focuses on Communities of Color because they’re disproportionately affected by environmental injustice. “Ultimately, I hope readers complete the book considering what they need to live and what they can live without — on personal and societal levels,” she says.
These days, Cirino is working on an exciting new project to bring climate solutions and frontline communities — which face the biggest challenges and are making the most radical changes — to a wider audience in a way most media platforms have not yet done.
She explains, “We hope that creating a space for such stories will help amplify and expand the amazing efforts to combat the climate crisis that are now underway.”
5. Dominique Palmer
Dominique Palmer is a climate justice activist and organizer with Fridays for Future International and Climate Live. She participates in various international actions and campaigns using music and other creative means to reach and mobilize people.
She has been featured in:
- Forbes 100 U.K. Leading Environmentalists (2020)
- the Guardian
Palmer is a public speaker on environmental and social justice, as well as a student of political science and international relations at the University of Birmingham.
For her, fighting for climate justice that benefits people and the planet is crucial, and she campaigns for bold action from global leaders. For example, she’s an organizer of the ongoing climate strike (which is now primarily in the digital space).
“We have the solutions, the finances, and pathways laid out by the…  IPCC report,” she says, referring to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “What is missing is political will, a desire to prioritize the well-being of the planet over profit, and serious urgency.”
She calls on governments to halt fossil fuel extraction, address social inequalities regarding clean air, and provide climate education and climate reparations.
She also makes the connection between climate justice and racial justice, noting that People of Color are disproportionately affected by — and leading the discussion on — climate change.
“They — particularly Women of Color — are agents of change in both mitigation and adaptation,” says Palmer. “They must be heard, [including] in decision spaces.”
Palmer is one of many young people to recognize that they’ll inherit the climate emergency and shouldn’t have to juggle urgent activism with their studies.
“So many of us feel betrayed and face eco-anxiety,” she says. “We don’t want to hear that we are so inspiring… or that this is ‘up to us.’ No — you made the mess and you’re going to clean it up with us. We must collectively take care of our earth.”
6. Ayesha Constable
Ayesha Constable is the founder of two umbrella organizations for youth-led climate groups: YPACC Jamaica and GirlsCARE.
She currently serves as an advisor for FRIDA (Flexibility Resources Inclusivity Diversity Action) — the Young Feminist Fund — and has been a member of several regional and global youth networks, including:
- Caribbean Youth Environment Network
- Commonwealth Youth Climate Network
- Sustainable Development Solutions Youth Network
- Global Power Shift of 350.org
Constable has researched and published on gender and climate change as part of her doctoral studies. Her recent academic research has examined the role of young women and girls in climate action in the Caribbean.
She says, “Young people have a high level of awareness of the risks posed by the climate crisis and have taken responsibility for finding and implementing solutions.”
“They have formed strong cross-regional alliances that help to amplify voices and provide the benefit of collective strategizing.”
She notes that in the Caribbean, young women — with strong support from the LGBTQIA+ community — are the face of climate action.
“They’re educating the public, shaping public policy, and ensuring the Caribbean voice is included in the global dialogue on climate change,” she says.
Constable points to the shared challenges across geographic regions, such as inadequate funding and a lack of inclusion, and the varied ways that these issues present in different places.
“Lack of inclusivity in one region may mean lack of inclusion of rural folk, while in another it is exclusion of LGBTQIA+ people,” she says.
She raises the issue of burnout among activists and the danger of prioritizing their cause over personal well-being. “Replenishing ourselves is in itself a form of activism in response to systems that would rather us be too drained to effectively challenge them,” she says.
7. Kayly Ober
Kayly Ober, senior advocate and program manager for the Climate Displacement Program at Refugees International, has more than a decade of experience in climate, migration, and displacement issues. This includes her work as:
- a policy specialist for the Asian Development Bank
- a consultant at the World Bank, where she authored the flagship report “Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration”
- a research associate with TransRe, an organization based at the University of Bonn, for which she explored migration as an adaptation strategy in rural Thailand
Ober notes that climate change is one of the driving factors behind migration. “Climate change supercharges natural hazards and exacerbates existing inequalities in ways that impact those on the edge [who] may need to make the difficult choice to migrate,” she says.
She notes that the effects of climate change are also connected to socioeconomic issues.
“If you are a farmer dependent on rainfall to grow your crops and earn a living, shifting rainfall patterns, recurring floods, or droughts can drastically affect your ability to earn a living,” she says.
“Depending on your ability to adapt, and even of your country to help you weather them, you may decide to migrate or not.”
Ober is calling for varied and nuanced policies to address the complex issue of climate change and migration. She participated in the development of a Refugees International report on climate change and migration released in July 2021.
She emphasizes that policies need to both allow people to stay where they’re from — which requires disaster risk reduction or climate change adaptation — and acknowledge that people may want or need to safely migrate and will need help doing so.
She also points to new guidance from the United Nations that suggests the definition of “refugee” in the 1951 Refugee Convention may apply in the context of climate change and that it’s up to individual countries to make assessments.
She says, “That’s why policies that seek to protect the rights of people moving are equally important, and perhaps even more novel, than policies of prevention [of climate-related disaster].”
8. Adriana Laurent
Adriana Laurent is a queer, mixed-race immigrant from Honduras who is passionate about the intersections of climate change, race, gender, and migration and has been organizing on these issues for 6 years at an institutional and grassroots level.
She lives in Vancouver, Canada (the lands of Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh nations), and is a digital campaigner with the activist group Leadnow. She has also been:
- a co-founder and staff member at the Climate Hub at the University of British Columbia
- a consultant for the City of Vancouver on its Climate Justice Charter
- an organizer for international mutual aid projects and grassroots youth climate organizing
“I’ve experienced the devastating impacts of climate change on my communities firsthand,” she says. “My community in Honduras has experienced powerful hurricanes that left thousands displaced, and in Vancouver I’ve also lived through a deadly heat wave.”
Laurent notes that these experiences are reminders that climate change worsens existing forms of oppression.
“Addressing the climate crisis also requires addressing deeply rooted systems of oppression,” she adds. “I’m working toward a more just and equitable world for all that sustains the dignity of all people and planet alike.”
She notes that climate change needs to be connected to communities and issues people care about.
“We need many people across the world with different expertise and experiences working on this issue. We can’t exclusively think about greenhouse gases; we must organize to tangibly improve the lives of people impacted by the climate crisis,” she says.
“This work is ultimately about caring for your community and our collective future.”
The bottom line
Climate justice requires gender equality, LGBTQIA+ rights, and the eradication of poverty.
It is not the responsibility of young people alone, as it requires an intergenerational approach that includes honoring traditions, learning new ways of living and being, and regarding today’s actions as determinants of the future.
Art and scholarship are equally important advocacy tools because they appeal to emotion and intellect. The goal of the movement isn’t to compel decision makers to make more promises but to build accountability and require it from individuals, corporations, and states.
Our human responsibility for each other must play a central role, serving as a beacon for the climate justice movement. In a community, there’s place for everyone as long as they follow through on their commitments to keep one another safe.
These 8 ecofeminists are doing heavy lifting, and they call on you to not only listen and learn but also participate in the process. It takes people with diverse experiences and expertise to create a collective future that’s sustainable, equitable, and just.
What Are Food Deserts? All You Need to Know
By: Amber Charles Alexis
Food deserts are communities that have poor access to healthy, affordable foods (1, 2).
Also known as healthy food priority areas, food deserts are concentrated in low-income and historically marginalized areas throughout the United States (1Trusted Source, 2, 3, 4).
In food deserts, healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, peas, beans, meat, and fish are often expensive or unobtainable. The lack of access to healthy foods in these communities translates to health disparities and high rates of chronic disease (4, 5, 6).
This article examines the causes, health effects, and potential solutions for food deserts.
Causes of food deserts
The causes of food deserts are multifaceted. Public policy and economic practices that are embedded in systemic racism often play a role. Social, economic, and political conditions have been shown to reduce people’s access to healthy foods.
Contributing factors include food insecurity, social determinants of health, racial residential segregation, and poor access to transportation among low-income and historically marginalized populations (1 , 7, 8, 9).
Food apartheidApartheid is an enforced form of racial segregation.
“Food apartheid,” however, is an emerging term meant to address the root causes of poor access to healthy, nutrient-dense foods by communities of color and low-income white people.
Food activists like Karen Washington, Malik Yakini, and Dara Cooper believe that this term more accurately represents the systemic racism and health inequities of a corporate-controlled food system.
The term “food desert” is sometimes scrutinized for its misrepresentation of the core issues within these communities.
For instance, the term “desert” suggests a natural, barren landscape and proposes that increasing the number of grocery stores is a quick solution. Furthermore, this term neither resonates with nor is a part of the identities of the individuals who live within these areas.
Instead, “food apartheid” addresses the root causes of poor food environments and health disparities among predominantly low-income communities of color.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) estimates that 17.4 million American households were food insecure in 2014 (9).
Food security is the physical and economic access to sufficient nutritious foods by all people at all times. When this access is disrupted or limited, food insecurity occurs (10).
Food insecurity may be temporary — for example, if you run out of food for a day or two — or long-term, as exemplified by persistent poverty and poor access to food (10).
Food insecurity among low-income communities in food deserts is 2.5 times greater than the national average (9).
Social determinants of health
Social determinants of health are factors beyond your control, such as access to healthcare or transportation, that affect your quality of life. These factors play a major role in food deserts (11).
Barriers like income, community infrastructure, and access to supermarkets all influence the availability of healthy foods. Other social determinants of health that may contribute to food deserts include (1 , 8, 11, 12 ):
- employment and job training
- socioeconomic status and concentrated poverty
- access to healthcare
- access to local food markets and fresh produce
- access to transportation
- racial segregation
- public safety
These factors may lead to health disparities characteristic of food deserts, such as high rates of chronic diseases among historically marginalized and low-income communities (1, 2, 7, 11).
Low-income communities have a high proportion of Black and Latino populations who are disproportionately affected by poor food access (1, 7, 9).
Robust evidence shows that racial segregation places historically marginalized populations, particularly Black people, in impoverished neighborhoods (7, 9).
In 2016, compared with the national average, Black households were two times likelier to be food insecure, while Hispanic households had a greater prevalence of food insecurity (9).
Notably, 76% of neighborhoods with a high proportion of Black people were among the most impoverished (7).
Transportation and proximity to supermarkets
In food deserts, the distance you have to travel to supermarkets is further than in wealthier areas (7, 12).
Plus, predominantly Black and Hispanic communities have fewer supermarkets and local food markets — which often offer affordable and nutritious produce — than white neighborhoods (1, 6, 7, 9, 12, 13).
Thus, households in food deserts don’t have equal access to the healthy foods available to white and affluent communities (6).
Furthermore, public transit and vehicle ownership play a role in food access (8, 13).