This project started with a question. Whose Voice is Missing?
Really, this question is at the core of everything the Agricultural Justice Project does to work towards a fair food system. The framework this question provides is why AJP is stakeholder-led and governed. The actions that result from putting this question of ‘Whose Voice is Missing?’ in the forefront, contributes to shifting the skewed power dynamic (one of the root causes of injustice) that is made possible by valuing certain groups of people more than others, based on race, gender, immigration status, profession, etc. To transform the food system (and society at large) into one that is fair, we need more people, and especially those people who are not systematically and routinely silenced, to start asking this question, all the time and in every context."
This public education project began by asking this seemingly simple question leading up to the Florida Organic Food and Farming Summit in 2018. We organized a side event to this summit, a Food Justice Dialogue, that was open to the public, without registration fees. Turns out a lot of voices were missing and many of them came to the dialogue event. Attendees included small scale farmers (both white and farmers of color both urban and rurual), farmworkers and farm apprentices (African American and white), Latinx and African American farmworker advocates, a farmer's market manager in an underserved African American neighborhood, farmer advocates, authors, United Nations sustainability consultants, food policy advocates, and individuals who are connected with formerly incarcerated populations, the faith community, public health community engagement, senior citizen care, food banks, seed saving, court interpretation for Spanish-speaking immigrants, migrant education, and more, approximately 40, most of whom did not plan to go to the summit, but who did care to talk about food justice issues in organic and conventional agriculture and the food system.
One the question asked by attendees was how to make people care about the disparities and injustice from field to farm to processing to distribution to retail to eaters and communities that are food insecure. This project aims to highlight the ways in which the experience of one food system stakeholder group is related to the experiences of other stakeholder groups, to highlight common ground in the struggle for justice. It aims to break down the lines of division that play a role in perpetuating injustice. It aims to contribute to more people caring about changing the system for everyone.
From the group of attendees of the Food Justice Dialogue, we found the 23 (and counting) stakeholders that we have interviewed for the Hungry for Justice: Whose Voice is Missing? project. The Agricultural Justice Project, Little Bean Productions and Orange is Media hit the road to visit the communities and see firsthand the work they are engaged in to address these disparities in the food system.
Recognizing that narratives that dehumanize people and groups is part of what divides us and makes caring about other groups more difficult, these two frameworks have been instrumental in shaping the content: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The Danger of the Single Story” and Lisa Russell’s “Shifting the Story.” Rooted in this framework, we also amplified the hopes, aspirations, solutions and memories of those we interviewed.
The content of this project started with 33 posts focused on the impact on farmworkers of our dependence on chemicals in agriculture and the food system’s need for a pool of cheap, exploitable labor. We then moved on to cover the impacts of how our food system operates, and the disparities that result, for all food system stakeholders and their families and communities, from field to table. We weave in a commentary on the negative consequences of this system that affect us all. We also highlight the grassroots solutions to the disparities that are implemented by the stakeholders that shoulder the majority of the burden and how they are linked to the root causes of injustice: a skewed power dynamic, a culture of divisiveness (including racism), lack of transparency, and prioritizing profit over people, animals, and the planet."