Recent Articles About Food Justice

Depending on your perspective, the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit against three agriculture-heavy Iowa counties to hold them accountable for harmful nitrate contamination in the Raccoon River water supply can be a few things: a battle between farmers upstream and urban water users downstream, a common sense plan to get polluters to pay, or a costly intrusion into private land use.

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Wendy Estrada-Perez hadn’t tried kale until she received some in a bag of free fruits and vegetables offered at her daughter’s school. “I had always heard about kale,” she says, “but we’re a Mexican family and we eat what we’ve been taught.” Now Estrada-Perez says the leafy green is a regular part of her family’s diet. Kiwi was another new food she was sure her daughter would reject. But when it arrived through a nonprofit called Brighter Bites, her daughter loved it. And she’s not alone. Read more

Like many of you, we watched in horror as events unfolded across the country last week, and the hell and heartache has left us reeling. We’ve long reported on food justice and last year wrote about why food belongs in our discussions of race. But we know we have a lot more work to do. In that spirit, we reached out to leaders of color in the food justice community for their thoughts about how they think the “food movement” might come together on the issues of race, equity, and access. We encourage others to speak up, add your voices to this space, and to continue the conversation. Read more

Cather Woods, 74, rises early to start the day before the Texas heat has a chance to wake up. She smiles as she steps onto the soil she’s nurtured for years. Inhaling the fresh air, she looks at the young pines under the rising sun, and, finally, she greets the cows excited by her arrival. Read more

Consumers recognize Dave’s Killer Bread (DKB) for its sliced bread innovations: rare ingredients like amaranth and sorghum flour, extra protein, and a USDA-organic certification.

But the decade-old, Oregon-based company does something else differently that’s not as obvious on its products’ labels. One in three of its more than 300 employees has a criminal background, and they’re now gainfully employed thanks to co-founder Dave Dahl, who spent more than 15 years in and out of prison before launching the company. Read more

Elsie Herring stays indoors on the days the industrial hog farm next door sprays manure from a lagoon-like holding pit across the field that ends eight feet from her kitchen window. Because a filthy mist coats her property if the wind is blowing from the west, Herring has learned to avoid activities like sitting on her porch, grilling outside, hanging laundry on the line, opening windows, and drinking water from the well.

Herring lives in Duplin County, North Carolina, on a plot of land her family has owned for more than a century. Located in the eastern part of the state, Duplin contains more than 18.5 million confined animals, including 2.3 million hogs. In Herring’s part of the state, pigs outnumber people almost 40 to one. Read more


School is letting out, and the back parking lot of Laurel Elementary School in East Oakland bustles with activity. As children stream out of the building, many join their parents and caregivers in line at the bi-monthly mobile food pantry run by the Alameda County Community Food Bank. Together, the children and adults select apples, oranges, and onions from the produce-only pantry.

Sherrie Lowe, who has two children and a grandchild at Laurel, has been using mobile pantries at the school for three or four years now. For her, the mobile pantry is all about convenience. “You pick up your kids, you pick up your fruit, you pick up your vegetables all at one stop,” she says amidst the lively activity of the pantry line. Read more

In the late 1990s, Brahm Ahmadi worked on environmental justice campaigns to shut down polluting factories in Oakland’s low-income communities. He lived in West Oakland, a predominately African-American neighborhood, where his work sometimes kept him in his own backyard. As a young organizer, a big part of his job was community engagement. Amidst the ongoing dialogue, Ahmadi repeatedly encountered complaints about the lack of access to a decent grocery store. What he was hearing—from one resident after another—was that they were tired of having to travel to stock up on basic foods.

For awhile, we’d just say, ‘thanks you for input,’ then we’d park it,” says Ahmadi. “But it kept coming up. After awhile I realized it wasn’t just a tangent.” Read more

There are two options for buying groceries near Cathy’s home in West Oakland, California: a tiny and sometimes expensive co-op and a 99 cent store. Although she loves the co-op, they’re only open until 8 p.m. during the week and 4 p.m. on weekends. The 99 cent store is open until 9 p.m., but its produce and dairy offerings are limited and often teeter on the edge of their expiration dates. Read more

Dennis Lane has owned a 7-Eleven franchise in Quincy, Massachusetts for 42 years. He says many of his customers use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps) benefits to buy staple foods.

“I sell 150 gallons of milk a day in my neighborhood,” he said. “A lot of those folks use SNAP.”

Soon, Lane’s store’s SNAP eligibility could be in question due to a recently proposed rule by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that would require retailers to stock an expanded list of foods to remain eligible for participation in the food assistance program. The rule would also eliminate from the SNAP program retailers with 15 percent or more of their store sales from hot, prepared food. Read more