To promote awareness of food justice, students at the Claremont Colleges organized the Claremont Food Justice Series during the week of April 10. The week was comprised of workshops and speakers that advocated for the reform of the current food system by increasing awareness and organizing first-hand experiences with a variety of foods from various sources.
The Food Justice Series included events about the history and origins of food and suggestions for how to reform the food system so that it is healthy, cost-effective, and ensures that no individual is left hungry.
Alex Kleinman PO ’20, who organized the Future Meat Panel, said that he is most interested in animal agriculture and its relationship with environment, food access, food transparency, animal welfare, and public health, as well as exploring alternatives to meat, such as lab-grown or plant-based substitutes.
The definition and breadth of food justice varies. Anne Shalamoff SC ’20 attended the Chai Decolonized event, where attendees were able to taste chai, which was altered when the British decided to add milk and sugar to it, in its most natural form.
“Food justice is reclaiming the culture and knowledge associated with growing and making your own food,” Shalamoff said. “It's about making fresh, healthy food accessible to more people while making sure workers get fair treatment and the environment isn't neglected.”
Teague Scanlon PO ’19, the student organizer of the Fermentation Workshop, shared the reasons behind his belief for the need to reform the current food system in an email to TSL.
“Our food system right now is built on the foundations of deception, racial injustice, corporate monopoly, and the separation of people from the source of their nourishment,” Scanlon wrote.
Scanlon wrote that his passion for food justice is inspired by growing ignorance about the origin of our meals.
“There is a value to seeing meals from the seed to the decorated plate, because we are able to see just how incredible the earth is,” Scanlon added. “[The earth] is literally pushing out incredibly healthy and nourishing food to whoever wants to claim it, but when most Americans have never picked a vegetable or planted a seed, it’s easy to become removed from that process and not have an incredible amount of admiration for the natural world.”
“I think governmental policy needs to be changed to pass power down from big food corporations to sustainable, personally-managed farms and businesses,” said Olivia Whitener PO ’17, an event organizer. “The politics surrounding food is very messy, with some very big players profiting while other consumers and producers have to deal with the consequences.”
During another event in the Food Justice Series, journalist, writer, and activist Raj Patel spoke about how the existence of the food system has impacted the world socially, politically, and economically. Patel defined food justice as the dedication to “an end to poverty, and an end to inequality.”
“We should work toward a world where no one goes hungry,” Patel wrote in an interview with TSL. “Food justice is an invitation to dream much bigger than we normally do, and you are more powerful than you have been told. Dream the world that you really want to live in.”