There’s a part of our food system that’s not being talked about: racial inequality. The division of land, government subsidies, and financial resources that are available favor white farmers. Meanwhile, many of our sustainable farming practices actually stem from African and indigenous roots. Since 1920 African-American farmers have lost over 14 million acres of land. Combine this with the fact that Black communities are also at a higher risk of illnesses due to a lack of access to fresh, nutritious food. It’s food apartheid.
This week on The Doctor’s Farmacy I was joined by Leah Penniman to dig into the racial injustice that continues to smolder in our current food system. Leah Penniman is a Black Kreyol educator, farmer, author, and food justice activist from Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, NY. She co-founded Soul Fire Farm in 2010 with the mission to end racism in the food system and reclaim our ancestral connection to land. As Co-Executive Director, Leah is part of a team that facilitates powerful food sovereignty programs—including farmer training for Black and Brown people, a subsidized farm food distribution program for communities living under food apartheid, and domestic and international organizing toward equity in the food system. Her book, Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm's Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land is a love song for the land and her people.
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Here are more of the details from the interview:
-How Leah got into farming (5:53)
-Why the term “food apartheid” is more accurate than “food desert” (11:44)
-Soul Fire Farm and how it is working to create a new food and farm system (19:43)
-Overcoming the obstacles that keep people of color from becoming farmers (27:35)
-The potential benefits of regenerative agriculture (29:55)
-Leah’s work getting community-supported agriculture paid for with funds from The Farm Bill (34:34)
-The Fairness for Farm Workers Act and why labor protection laws historically excluded farmers (36:22)
-Costa Rica’s ecosystem services model (42:13)
-Internalized racism and the food system (45:20)
-The role of the land in the civil rights movement (53:13)
Learn more about and order Leah’s book, Farming While Black, at https://www.farmingwhileblack.org/. Follow on Facebook @farmingwhileblack, on Instagram @farmingw