We all have been bombarded by the terrifying descriptions of the urban food deserts, and we may have even had a meal there. Thus it is getting harder for food justice activists to demand more sympathies from the spectators who have known our rhetorics too well. Hence when I began developing my first post on international aspect of food justice, the basic, disturbing but inevitable question of “why should audiences care” emerged again, and it needs to be addressed.
Food justice for the United States is majorly a concern of equal access to healthy, fresh and nutritious food. However, for over 800 millions people worldwide, it is the struggle for access to adequate calories, and worse, their mere lives. Every year, hunger kills more people than AIDS and malaria & tuberculosis combined in developing countries and if you form a country with malnourished Indian citizens, the country will be the world’s fifth populated. In the villages surrounding my hometown in Shanxi, China, there are still millions who dine on mere carbohydrates all year round: even protein or fat are scarce. In fact, the diet cultures of many heavily populated Asian regions are shaped by the haunting memory, or stark reality for many, of hunger.
Apart from striving to change the dire reality of global malnutrition and even starvations, global food justice campaigns directly or indirectly address sensitive social/political issues worldwide, with an approachable and pleasant air that is characteristic of food activism. For instance, providing marginalized Indian women with opportunities to engage in agricultural work subtly and effectively facilitated feminist movement in the highly sexist society. And the works of community-based Slow Food Movement in Shanghai offers democracy-bereft Chinese some basic experiences of working collectively in civil societies. Efforts to address regional food injustice help building a global network of social justice, where universal values hold regardless of a society’s socio-economical status.
Finally and personally, food justice activism benefits those involved in it. According to Sherry Linkon, a veteran activist: “Food justice may focus on food, but it connects with issues like economic development, race and class inequities, education, vacant properties, and of course, environmental sustainability. In the process, we build our own capacity to pursue significant projects, and we work with other groups to develop, together, the networks, knowledge, skills, and experience to organize effectively on behalf of both the local community and broader regional and national issues”.