Reform or Transformation? The Pivotal Role of Food Justice in the US Food Movement

Eric Holt-Giménez and Yi Wang | 10.01.2011

In Race/Ethnicity, Vol. 5, No. 1 (2012)

The global food crisis has pushed the U.S. food movement to a political juncture. A sixth of the world’s population is now hungry—just as a sixth of the U.S. population is “food insecure.” These severe levels of hunger and insecurity share root causes, located in the political economy of a global, corporate food regime. Because of its political location between reformist calls for food security and radical calls for food sovereignty, food justice is pivotally placed to influence the direction of food-systems change. This placement subjects the concept of food justice to multiple claims, definitions, and practices that tend either to affirm a structural focus on resource redistribution, or to dilute its political meaning by focusing on food access. How issues of race and class are resolved will influence the political direction of the food justice movement’s organizational alliances: toward reform or toward transformation. How the food justice movement “pivots” may determine the degree to which it is able to bring about substantive changes to the U.S. food system.

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