We Cannot Have a Just Food System without Justice for All

June 5, 2020

This week has been filled with grave conversation and reflection at CUESA, and we imagine it has been the same for you. We are all clear that this moment requires us to be vocal in our opposition to state-sanctioned racism and violence against Black lives. We owe it to our community to bear witness, to listen, to speak up, and to stand in solidarity. Black lives matter.

The movement toward a just and sustainable food system is interconnected to every other movement for liberation and equality.  While our minds are rightfully focused on dismantling deadly power structures in policing, these systems are also at play in the way we grow, harvest, and eat food.

To quote activist, farmer, and author Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm: “Racism is built into the DNA of the US food system. Beginning with the genocidal land theft from Indigenous people, continuing with the kidnapping of our ancestors from the shores of West Africa for forced agricultural labor, morphing into convict leasing, expanding to the migrant guestworker program, and maturing into its current state where farm management is among the whitest professions, farm labor is predominantly Brown and exploited, and people of color disproportionately live in food apartheid neighborhoods and suffer from diet-related illness, this system is built on stolen land and stolen labor, and needs a redesign.”

As we reflect on the undertaking of this redesign, we commit to undoing our own white supremacist practices. Expect to hear from us in future e-letters about the specific actions we are taking to dismantle the power structures that uphold white supremacy within ourselves, our organization, and our food system.  

Here are a few resources we have been reading and engaging with recently. We realize everyone is on different points in their journeys, and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color are deeply familiar with racism through lived experiences. If you are just beginning your education  or looking to deepen your learning, one place to start is the 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge. Showing up for and putting your dollars into supporting Black-led organizations advancing justice is also critical.

Donate and Take Action

Week of Action in Defense of Black Lives

Movement for Black Lives

Black Visions Collective

Critical Resistance

Want to See Food and Land Justice for Black Americans? Support These Groups. (Civil Eats)

These Food Justice Organizations Are Helping to Feed the Protests in Oakland (Luke Tsai, Eater)

Dismantling Racism in Food

4 Not-So-Easy Ways to Dismantle Racism in the Food System (Leah Penniman, YES!)

The Bay Area Restaurant System Was Always Broken. How Do We Fix It? (Ruth Gebreyesus, KQED)

A Reparations Map for Farmers of Color May Help Right Historical Wrongs (Andrea King Collier, Civil  Eats)

Black Communities Have Always Used Food as Protest (Amethyst Ganaway, Food&Wine)

How Fostering Empathy for the People Who Feed Us Could Change Our Food System (Simran Sethi, Civil Eats)

Black-owned restaurants, pop-ups and caterers in the Bay Area (San Francisco Chronicle)

Eating at Black-Owned Restaurants Isn’t Going to Save Us (Ruth Gebreyesus, KQED)

Farmers Markets and Whiteness (Earth Eats Podcast)


White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism (Robin J. DiAngelo)

How to Be an Antiracist (Ibram X. Kendi)

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Be a Good Ancestor (Layla F. Saad)

Seeing White (Podcast)

Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Bay Area

Resources and Tool Kits

Soul Fire Farm Resources and Farming While Black (Leah Penniman)

21-Day Racial Equity Challenge (Food Solutions New England)

Young Farmers Racial Equity Tool Kit (National Young Farmers Coalition)