Our Best Food Justice Stories of 2019

From the farm fields to the kitchen and beyond, food justice is at the heart of our reporting. Here are some of our best stories this year.

Rev. Floyd D. Harris Jr. harvests cabbage from Freedom School Fresno’s demonstration farm. (Photo © Joan Cusick)

Food justice is at the heart of our ongoing reporting at Civil Eats, and 2019 was no exception. This year, our writers told dozens of stories about the people most impacted by inequities in the food system—from the millions of food chain workers in this country to those struggling to get enough healthy food in their diets—and the admirable individuals who are devoted to fight for equity, land access, and good food for all. Here are some of our best food justice stories this year.

SAAFON Works to Restore Land Justice for Black Farmers in the South
The Georgia-based farm group supports hundreds of Black farmers to become economic powerhouses in their communities.

New Research Explores the Ongoing Impact of Racism on the U.S. Farming Landscape
Despite some progress in diversity and racial justice in the U.S. as a whole, a professor argues that farming remains deeply segregated.

Fresno’s Freedom School is Changing the Narrative on Farming for Black Youth
The year-round vegetable farm and job-skills program is an investment in the city’s African-American youth.

For This Queer Latina, the Kitchen is the Best Place to Fight For Justice
Phoenix Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza says food is political and that it’s in her DNA to stand up for immigrant and LGBTQ rights.

Meet the Woman Helping Change the Way Brooklyn Eats
Reverend Melony Samuels, the founder of the largest food pantry in the borough, is fighting poverty and changing her neighborhood’s relationship to healthy food.

Is Detroit Finally Getting a Black-Owned Grocery Store?
Raphael Wright is in the midst of a two-year journey to build a new grocery store in Motor City.

(Photo courtesy of UFW)

The Farmworkers Who Pick Your Halo Mandarins Just Organized a Massive Labor Strike
Nearly 1,800 fruit pickers—many undocumented—spontaneously walked out of The Wonderful Company’s citrus orchards earlier this year to oppose a pay cut and third-party labor contracts.

Does Your Food Label Guarantee Fair Farmworkers’ Rights? This One Does.
Most labels address how food is grown. The Agricultural Justice Project also focuses on how the people behind the food are treated.

What Reparations Could Mean for Black Farmers
Some 2020 presidential candidates are talking about reparations. Can the conversation turn the tide on systemic racism in U.S. agriculture?

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Soil Generation is Saving Community Gardens in Philadelphia
The coalition of Black and brown urban farmers and gardeners is a voice for social justice in ‘America’s Garden Capital.’

A New Crop of Food Justice Fellowships Seed Future Leaders
Castanea and Seeding Power fellows are addressing racial inequities within the food system.

clean drinking water coming from the tap300 California Communities Can’t Drink From the Tap. Will More Money Make a Difference?
A new fund created to direct cap-and-trade dollars to communities could bring clean drinking water to the state’s agricultural communities.

Environmental Defenders—Often Fighting Agribusiness—Are Being Violently Silenced Around the World
A new report details how agribusiness—especially soy, sugar, palm oil, and beef production—was the second deadliest sector for people standing up for the environment and their lands.

Irmamedellin_IsabelArrollo_ElquintoSolMeet the Women Building Political Power for Farmworkers in the Central Valley
In Farm Country, the mother-daughter team behind El Quinto Sol de America have spent the last 15 years helping its poorest residents advocate for the health and safety of their communities.

Bringing Fresh Produce to LA’s Corner Stores Alone Won’t Solve Food Inequality. But it’s a Start.
Corner store conversion projects not only aim to combat food insecurity, but also recognize the tremendous influence these stores have on neighborhoods.

The Woman Leading the Way for Urban Farming in the Nation’s Capital
Gail Taylor, ‘The People’s Farmer,’ feeds her community with Three Part Harmony Farm and helped pass legislation to benefit urban farmers in D.C.

The Farmworkers Who Pick Your Food Don’t Get Paid Overtime
Washington could be the third state to require overtime pay, leveling the playing field nationwide for ‘second-class workers.’

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Natalie Talahongva

Fighting Food Colonialism in the Hopi Nation
Hopi leaders are restoring food sovereignty for the tribe’s 2,500-square-mile reservation—which has only two grocery stores.

400 Years After the Slave Trade Began, Tracing the Roots of Jambalaya to Jollof
Ghana’s ‘Year of Return’ marked an ancestral journey on the route to self-discovery and culinary connections.

Pittsburgh Grows Urban Gardens in the Fight Against Gentrification
Urban ag groups and organizers are fighting food apartheid and building economic self-sufficiency and resilience in their communities.

The Civil Eats Editors

Since 2009, the Civil Eats editorial team has published award-winning and groundbreaking news and commentary about the American food system, and worked to make complicated, underreported stories—on climate change, the environment, social justice, animal welfare, policy, health, nutrition, and the farm bill— more accessible to a mainstream audience. Read more >

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