Black Lives Matter in the Food System | Civil Eats

Black Lives Matter in the Food System

In acknowledgment of today’s #StrikeForBlackLives, we share some of our recent reporting on Black lives and the food system.

A man dances on a massive “Black Lives Matter” mural covering a city street in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

During the first half of 2020, the disproportionate spread of COVID-19 in communities of color and the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police have drawn into sharp focus the systemic racism present in the United States—including in our food system.

While Civil Eats has long reported on the issue of food justice, we have focused especially this year on topics related to racial justice in food and agriculture, and how the coronavirus pandemic has compounded the issues that communities and individuals of color have faced for many years.

From how historically redlined and segregated neighborhoods affect residents’ diets, health, and well-being today to the ways that Black communities are building on their generations of self-reliance and mutual aid to meet even greater needs today, 2020 has brought an entirely new level of challenges for people of color to face.

In the past few months, we’ve reported on the role food apartheid has played in the spread of coronavirus in Black communities, farm country’s reaction to the racial reckoning following Floyd’s death, and the evolution of the Black food sovereignty movement over the years, among many other issues.

In acknowledgment of today’s Strike for Black Lives (#StrikeForBlackLives)during which tens of thousands of workers are expected to walk off the job in at least 25 cities to protest systemic racism, white supremacy, and police brutality against Black peoplewe are sharing some of our recent reporting on Black lives and the food system.

For more of our in-depth reporting, you can visit our archives of coverage of food justice and the coronavirus.

black woman wearing a mask during the coronavirus pandemicPeople of Color are at Greater Risk of COVID-19. Systemic Racism in the Food System Plays a Role.

Food apartheid and economic inequality are among the factors leading to high rates of infections and deaths of Black and brown Americans.


Participants in the A Growing Culture Juneteenth event, clockwise from top left: Amber Tamm, Queen Quet, Jamila Norman, Gathegu Gatungo, Malik Yakini, Karen Washington. (Photos courtesy of A Growing Culture)

Black Leaders Discuss How the Food Sovereignty Conversation Has Shifted

Nearly two dozen Black farmers, chefs, and advocates took part in an online Juneteenth event to share stories of resistance, resilience, and the fight for land access.


A Black farmer loading produce into a pickup truckOp-ed: The Farm Bureau Says it Wants to Fight Racism. Here’s Where to Start.

Addressing systemic racism in U.S. agriculture has to begin with the USDA.

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A Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis. Photo CC-licensed by Andy Witchger

Reckoning with Racial Justice in Farm Country

Rural communities and agriculture groups are divided over George Floyd’s death and the resulting protests. As some stay silent, others express solidarity or hold rallies in support.


Protestors march in Philadelphia on June 1, in the aftermath of widespread unrest following the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others.

Want to See Food and Land Justice for Black Americans? Support These Groups.

Food justice is racial justice. As the nation rises up to protest atrocities against Black people, here are some organizations working to advance Black food sovereignty.


Karen Washington in her urban farm. Photo courtesy of Bioneers.Op-ed: How Urban Agriculture Can Fight Racism in the Food System

Growing food in cities offers a powerful way to reclaim communities and change the dynamics so that people of color have wealth and power.

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Harlem Grown's Tony Hillery. (Photo courtesy of Harlem Grown)

How Black Communities Are Bridging the Food Access Gap

Amid the pandemic and racial-justice uprisings, Black organizers nationwide are getting fresh, healthy food and groceries to those who need it most.


Marlo and Anthony Paul at Eden Land Farm in Alabama's Black BeltThe Doctor-Botanist Couple Healing a Community in the Rural South

In Alabama’s Black Belt, where COVID rates are high and hospitals are understaffed, Dr. Marlo Paul and her plant biologist husband, Anthony, are making house calls and providing free herbal remedies from their own farm.

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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