Our goal is to make Food Justice Certification FREE for smaller independent family or community farms and local, independent, small grocers or food co-ops that purchase from such farms. This is the Kick-off fundraiser for this program change! We are reserving at least 25% of this social justice fund specifically for these farms which are BIPOC-led, including immigrant farmworker-led farms.
The COVID-19 pandemic has both intensified and laid bare existing injustices in our food system. Working and living conditions for the workers growing, picking, processing, and marketing our food have put them at risk of infection and gives them few or no safe alternatives. A long history of poverty wages and unfair policies, such as those that strip farmworkers and guest workers throughout the food chain of the right to organize for themselves, mean that food system workers are more likely to be food insecure.
That’s right, the people who feed us are more likely to be unable to afford food for themselves than the general population, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Our existing food system has declared their work, but not their lives, to be essential. Food donations and food banks only provide emergency relief of hunger and DO NOT address the root causes of food insecurity, including poverty and disempowerment.
“Food Security is not enough, people need a sense of control over their own food system...They need to have access to land, they need to feel respected and empowered. Food banks are essential, but just giving people food doesn’t give them a sense of ownership...” - Jeannie Economos, the Farmworker Association of Florida.
In this time of crisis and opportunity, we can consent to this status quo by taking no action, or we can work to create a food system that reflects our real values.
“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.” -Arundhati Roy
Where workers have the power to demand better, they can and do negotiate conditions of greater dignity and safety for themselves, and when prices reflect the real cost of dignified and sustainable livelihoods for those feeding us, everyone in the supply chain, the farmworkers, farmers, food chain workers, vibrant local food economies, eaters, and communities, win.
A better food system is possible. We have the power to build it together.
The Agricultural Justice Project supports and recognizes farmworkers, farmers, and food system stakeholders who are making the vision of justice in the food system a reality. AJP’s Food Justice Certification program is directed and governed by farmworkers, farmers, and food system workers. They decided what a fair farm or fair business is. This is empowerment. This is sovereignty and the rules for being Food Justice Certified enable workers on these farms and at these businesses to have the POWER to negotiate and the SECURITY that living wages, right to organize and protection from retaliation as well as transparency of terms and training in their legal rights bring. Food Justice Certified farms and businesses invest time and resources to uphold the standards on top of the certification that verifies their adherence to the standards, because they believe in justice and our mutually interdependent wellbeing and they know that fair washing claims and meaningless internal corporate responsibility programs are all too common.
"Pie Ranch’s core value of justice means that how we value people is central to our work. The long history of exploitative labor practices in this country is inextricably linked to climate change and racial and economic injustice. It is our collective responsibility to not just care for the environment through healthful farming practices but to also build up empathy, equity, and fair compensation for those who bring us our food. The Agricultural Justice Project’s Food Justice Certification program is critical to our organization’s mission of cultivating health and justice in the food system and it is our hope that this collective awakening we’re finally seeing around the country right now includes the demand for fair food. We are grateful for our ongoing partnership with the AJP, the opportunity they provide us to keep building equity into our labor practices, the ability to use our Food Justice Certification in our farmstand sales, and as a way to teach about the importance of valuing all people in the food system." - Farmer Nancy Vail, Pie Ranch
Farmers in this country are also squeezed by big money influence. Empowerment of farmworkers goes hand in hand with empowerment of independent family and community farmers. The same system that keeps farmworkers impoverished keeps family farmers fighting for survival. Yep, there are farmers in this country that are on food assistance too.
Enough is enough. No more band-aids. We can change this system. A collective of farmworkers, worker advocacy groups, and farmers have done all the work to create and adopt the Food Justice Certification model to demonstrate that we can feed people in this country in a way that honors and empowers the human beings who work to bring us food, while prioritizing access to this good food that is produced the right way for everyone, regardless of income.
Your contribution to this fundraiser will support the certification process for these existing and new farms and food businesses who are putting their values into action to build a better food system that values people above profits and allows consumers to know what kind of food system they are supporting when they make purchases. This is particularly important given that lack of transparency is one of the ways that our unjust food system continues to hurt so many workers, farmers, and eaters, many of whom are people of color.
We know, now more than ever, as the Covid-19 crisis has underscored the existing and long standing disparities in our food, political, and economic system, that we need a different system and that big money squeezes the life out of workers, farmers, and local food entrepreneurs, even when they are often the ones stepping up to fill the life-threatening gaps that have widened during this crisis.
It is time we give back to them and support their efforts to empower all who labor to bring food to our tables and at the same time support making accessible this revolutionary model of food production that centers farmworkers, farmers and food system workers.
Your donation to AJP will help build a food system that values not just the work, but also the wellbeing and dignity of all the people who make it possible for all of us to eat by making fair pay and practices on farms (and verification of those practices) more accessible to all farmers. Any amount is gratefully appreciated.
Thank you for supporting farms like Pie Ranch, Soul Fire Farm, Swanton Berry Farm, The Family Garden, and Higher Level Organics, as well as food co-ops like Green Star Food Co+op. Many of them have been Food Justice Certified for years and for even longer many have had active programs to address injustice in our food system. Look for stories about their work on our page.