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“First Food” is Real Food Justice

I’ve got a problem with the food system conversation in the U.S.  It neglects to include what I call the “first food”—breast milk—and emphasize the critical importance of breastfeeding. No conversation about equitable food systems can truly exist without including the first food and understanding how the racial and social inequities around breastfeeding adversely affect vulnerable populations.

If access to healthy food is a basic human right then doesn’t that right start at birth? Shouldn’t our smallest and most vulnerable citizens have fair and just access to the healthiest food for them?

Consider the facts: For the past 30 years, breastfeeding rates among black women, particularly those in underserved, food desert communities, have been significantly lower than all other ethnicities. In the U.S., African American infants are more than twice as likely to die before their first birthday than other infants. In some cities, the stats are even more sobering: Memphis, Tennessee ranks at the top of the list for infant deaths in American cities—where a baby dies every 43 hours. Read more