Food justice and food education are often overlooked in the fast paced lives of Americans today. But, let’s take a minute to explore what these important topics mean, and how they are impacting your family and your community.
Some of you may ask, “what is food justice”? Food justice is the response to food insecurity and the economic reasons that prevent access to healthy, and nutritious food. One of the great, often unspoken, forms of oppression that low and moderate income communities suffer through, is the lack of access to healthy food. The most commonly described barrier between people and healthy food is cost. Hyper-processed foods are well-known to be cheaper than their nutritious organic alternative. By the over-commodification of our global supply, approximately one-sixth of the developed world is malnourished. Ending hunger is more than feeding the starving, it is also feeding the malnourished, the undernourished, those who do not have access to the food their body needs to thrive.
The JK Community farm believes that no-one should live without enough food because of economic constraints or social inequalities. We believe that healthy food is a human right, and everyone has an inherent right to access healthy, fresh food. As a society it is easy to agree that we want our families to be healthy, we want our neighbors to be fed, but how do we ensure equal access to healthy food?
At this point in time, the majority of food donated to food pantries, and shelters is hyper-processed. Fresh fruits and vegetables are nearly impossible to get if you happen to be homeless or impoverished. The limited supply of fruits and vegetables that do reach food pantries and shelters have begun to rot. Many food pantry volunteers and workers search through bags of rotten produce for the one decent piece. We can not disregard the fact that at this point, the rotten or near rotten produce has lost almost all of its nutritional value. Hyper-processed food should not be the only option.
Consumption of a healthy diet is a priority for reducing chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. This is where food education comes into fruition. The unfortunate reality is that in today’s globalized food system, many people know very little about the journey of what they are eating, especially with pre-packaged foods. Food education is about promoting the education of nutrition in schools to promote healthy eating and the greater understanding of the food system among children.
When you sit down to eat dinner, how often are you thinking about how the food on your plate arrived at the grocery store, or the restaurant? As a society, we often lack the knowledge or interest of the natural and human conditions under which our food is produced. We also overlook who controls the steps of how we acquire the most basic and cherished resources for human survival.
The JK Community Farm is working toward a social change by promoting food education and providing local food pantries and shelters with locally grown, organic food. With the help of Loudoun Hunger Relief and other local food pantries, we have been able to distribute over 20,000 lbs of healthy, nutritious food from our farm so far this season. As the JK Community Farm continues to grow we will be able to impact the lives of a broader community, as well as advance self-reliance by providing the tools and the opportunity to learn how to address the disparities within our food system, and our society.