Despite the most cynical pronouncements on human, nature, from "homo economicus" to "the tragedy of the commons," research continues to show that the vast majority of people are not only capable, but eager to support basic justices in their communities. And what could be more fundamental than food justice: ensuring consistent, equitable access to food for all members of society, at all times?
Why are almost a billion people food insecure when enough food is produced in the world? Why are 12% of Americans not able to acquire sufficient, healthy food every day of the year? 3400 calories per person per day are available in the U.S., and yet one in seven Americans are making use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The Barriers to the necessary food action are not lack of will nor need: it is a lack of transparency and a lack of opportunities for everyday citizens to participate in the design of our food and agriculture system. What we call "food deserts" are in reality places where residents do not have adequate voice in their food system. Their own local efforts at food action are too often marginalized or ignored. What seems to be about a lack of affordable food is, as Frances Moore Lappé has pointed out, actually more of a lack of democracy.
Even though we generally, as a people, support food justice, we don't have the food sovereignty and transparency we need. While we make choices in the grocery store, thousands of choices about what kind of food is raised and how it is produced have already been made for us in corporate boardrooms and by government policies that ignore the voices of everyday farmers and eaters alike.
Food sovereignty's goal is to turn this on its head: to give everyday citizens the freedom and power to decide what their community's food system looks like, and in turn, the responsibility of those in the community to participate. Without both this freedom and responsibility, we cannot create resilient and transparent food systems. Putting this power back in the hands of the people will be nothing less than a Good Food Revolution. The good news is -- from food policy councils to participatory budgeting to citizens' juries and more -- there are many proven methods of effective food action. More and more of us are realizing: the time has come for a Good Food Revolution, and we have only to work together to achieve it.