Food Justice = Economic Justice
“Food is the first economy of any society.”
— Malik Yakini, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network
Our food system touches every aspect of our economy — and our relationship to food is intimately connected to our economic experience. A sustainable community food system is about more that getting healthy food to the right places. If you can’t afford that food, or if your job and your home don’t allow you the time and space to prepare that food, an abundance of grocery stores won’t translate into food security for you and your family. And if that newly-built grocery store is accompanied by higher neighborhood rents, you may not be in the place to access that food for very long.
The link between food and economics means that food justice has to be linked to economic justice. That’s why workforce development and entrepreneurship are as central to our work as farmers markets and urban agriculture — successful community businesses and jobs with family-supporting wages address many of the root causes of hunger and food insecurity. Better still, when those businesses and jobs are in community-based food production, processing and distribution, they are part of making healthy food available in every neighborhood, for every resident.
Good Food Has Many Faces
A healthy, equitable food system starts with growing good food, but it doesn’t end there. Each stage between the farm and our fork, from processing to preparation to distribution and sale, is part of ensuring that our food system is just and sustainable.
Dreaming Out Loud takes an integrated approach to the food system in our programming. Our Urban Agriculture program not only includes food production, but also building supportive infrastructure to facilitate aggregation, processing and distribution of locally-grown agricultural products. Our Community Markets not only provide healthy food access for consumers, but also provide marketing and distribution opportunities for food entrepreneurs from our communities. And our Micro-Enterprise and Entrepreneurship programs give community members the knowledge, skills and confidence to create their own food-related businesses, whether in value-added processing, local food distribution and sale, or their own urban growing.
Dreaming Out Loud also engages in programs and partnerships that link local food producers, processors, distributors and consumers to one another. The result: more than just food access, we are building a strong, resilient, and productive food system that improves health and generates economic opportunities in every aspect of its operation.
Public Policy Matters
The way our food system works is not accidental — it is the result of decades of policy choices at the federal, state and local level. When public policies result in harm to our communities and families, we need to craft new policies that restore our health and wellbeing.
Dreaming Out Loud has worked collaboratively to advocate for public policy that supports greater food security, food justice, and food sovereignty. We’ve played a role in the passage of the Urban Farm and Food Security Act, advocacy and implementation of the Produce Plus Program, the Cottage Food Law, and more to come.
Our Executive Director, Christopher Bradshaw, was also appointed by Mayor Muriel Bowser to a three-year term as a member of the founding DC Food Policy Council. Chris and his colleagues will identify regulatory barriers to nurturing the development and maintenance of a sustainable, equitable, and localized food system, then make recommendations to the Council of the District of Columbia and relevant agencies.
Urban Farm and Food Security Act
Health and Human Services Committee
Healthy Affordable Food For All