Our Best Food Justice Stories of 2023 | Civil Eats

Our Best Food Justice Stories of 2023

This year, we brought you more stories about the people working toward food justice in their communities. 

The Black farmers at Big Dream Farm stand in the field. (Photo credit: Jared Davis)

The farmers working at Big Dream Farm, a grantee of the Black Farmer Fund. (Photo credit: Jared Davis)

Food justice reporting has been a cornerstone of Civil Eats’ coverage since we launched 15 years ago. The food system bears a disproportionate impact on communities of color, ranging from the farmworkers struggling to feed themselves even as they harvest the nation’s produce to the BIPOC farmers who are often shut out from crucial financing and other resources.

This year, we further explored how people are working toward food justice in their communities. We told the compelling story of the Fee-Fo-Lay Café in Wallace, Louisiana, which galvanized local residents to defend the small town from industrial development. We detailed how a Minneapolis neighborhood is working to turn a former Superfund site into a community-owned indoor urban farm and hub. And we brought you the story of the Ujamaa Farmer Collective, which is helping historically underserved farmers in California gain land access through cooperative ownership.

We believe it is critical to highlight stories like these and the intersectionality of food through the prism of social and economic justice. We are committed to elevating the voices of people who produce our food, as well as those who are affected by its production. Here is our best food justice reporting this year.

Johanna Willingham (left), who manages Georgia FarmLink on behalf of ALT, and Jean Young (right), the first incubator farmer at ALT’s Williams Farm Incubator Program, walk the greenhouse at Williams Farm. (Photo credit: Oisakhose Aghomo)

Photo credit: Oisakhose Aghomo

Forging Pathways to Land Access for BIPOC Farmers in Georgia
Emerging tools are helping young and beginning BIPOC farmers find farmland and navigate the confusing legal process needed to acquire and manage it.

How the Long Shadow of Racism at USDA Impacts Black Farmers in Arkansas—and Beyond
Cotton Belt farmers have been waiting on long-overdue debt relief to right historic wrongs. But some see court battles, legislation, and red tape as a continued sign of systemic discrimination.

How a Louisiana Café Became Home Base for Environmental Justice
Sister-run Fee-Fo-Lay Café in Wallace serves t-cakes and helps organize Black residents to fight against industrial pollution and preserve their cultural heritage.

Can Sean Sherman’s BIPOC Foodways Alliance Dismantle White Supremacy Over Dinner?
Chef Sean Sherman and food writer Mecca Bos have launched a new nonprofit to bring together people of color and their white allies to share meals, recipes, and stories of resistance.

Black Farmers working in the fields at Big Dream Farm. (Photo credit: Jared Davis)

Photo credit: Jared Davis

This Fund Is Investing $20 Million to Help Black Farmers Thrive
Farmer-activists Karen Washington and Olivia Watkins created the Black Farmer Fund to boost Black farmers, agricultural businesses, and food entrepreneurs in the Northeast with tools, training, and cash.

This Community Garden Helps Farmworkers Feed Themselves. Now It’s Facing Eviction.
The members of Tierras Milperas in Watsonville, Calif. are struggling to maintain access to their garden. Similar stories are unfolding across the country.

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A group of Black women lead a cooking class; a banner above the chalkboard reads, "Cease to be a drudge, Seek to be an artist," credited to Mary McLeod Bethune. (Photo courtesy of The Jemima Code and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University)

Photo courtesy of The Jemima Code and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University

Op-ed: Black Women, Architects of the American Kitchen, Deserve a Rightful Place in the Sun
A chef and food writer takes a hard look at the Mammy stereotype, the rare outliers who have achieved recognition for their cooking, and the inequity that still prevents most Black women from owning restaurants.

‘Rhythms of the Land’ Preserves the Untold Stories of Black Farmers
Filmmaker and cultural anthropologist Gail Myers discusses the making of her documentary, the oppressive history of sharecropping, and power of seed saving for Black farmers.

An Indigenous-Led Team Is Transforming a Minneapolis Superfund Site into a New Urban Farm
Cassandra Holmes is working to bring fresh, local food to the Little Earth of United Tribes community in East Phillips. Now, the city has brokered a deal that could rehabilitate the former Superfund site and engage young residents.

Members of the Raporo Ainu Nation observe asir cep nomi, an Ainu ceremony that marks the fish’s annual migration back to the island’s major rivers and tributaries. (Photo credit: Centre for Environmental and Minority Policy Studies)

Photo credit: Centre for Environmental and Minority Policy Studies

A Fight for Salmon Fishing Rights Connects Indigenous Peoples Across the Pacific Ocean
For Japan’s Indigenous Ainu people, salmon is king. With inspiration from Indigenous groups in Washington state, the Ainu are reclaiming their historical fishing rights.

The Organic Urban Farm Growing Healthy Food for One of Chicago’s Most Underserved Neighborhoods
For two decades, the 1.5-acre Growing Home farm grew fresh produce for restaurants and surrounding communities. Now it’s focused on feeding its neighbors with support from across the city.

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California Will Help BIPOC Collective Cultivate Land Access for Underserved Farmers
With a recent grant from the state of California, Ujamaa Farmer Collective hopes to provide farmers of color with land to start or grow farming businesses.

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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