Jim Tranquada

Two experts from Occidental College's Urban & Environmental Policy institute have written Food Justice, the first major account of the emerging social movement to transform the nation's food system from seed to table. 

Robert Gottlieb, the Henry Luce Professor of Environmental Studies and director of Occidental's Urban & Environmental Policy Institute, and Anupama Joshi, co-director of the institute's National Farm to School Network, chronicle America's food inequities and excesses, the country's deteriorating state of food production, distribution and consumption, and grassroots efforts to change the system.

"This is the first comprehensive inquiry and study of this emerging social movement,"
Gottlieb said. "Our book profiles dynamic food justice groups and organizing efforts and the new politics around food, from how it's grown to where it's sold and what we eat."

Gottlieb will speak about Food Justice (published by MIT Press) on Wednesday, Nov. 17, at 4:30 p.m. at Whittier College's Diehl Hall, Room 118. He will also give a reading and book signing on Sunday, Nov. 21, at 3 p.m. at the Progressive Jewish Alliance in Santa Monica. The events are free and open to the public. For more information, go to: http://www.foodjusticebook.org/?page_id=28.

Food Justice details how farm workers face hazardous conditions, low-income neighborhoods lack supermarkets but abound in fast-food restaurants and liquor stores, food products emphasize convenience instead of healthfulness, and the international reach of American fast food has been a major contributor to the "globesity" epidemic.

In addition, Gottlieb and Joshi describe current efforts to improve the food system, including community gardens and farmer training in Holyoke, Mass.; middle-school students in New Orleans revamping their cafeteria fare to include locally sustainable food; farm-to-school programs across the country; and the advocacy that led to the Los Angeles public school system's elimination of sugary soft drinks from its cafeterias. The authors also tell how food activism has succeeded at the highest level, with a food justice program like farm-to-school becoming a priority initiative for the Obama White House.

In its review, the American Library Association's Booklist stated that Food Justice "offers attainable examples of ways consumers, farmers, manufacturers, merchants, and legislators can correct system-wide injustices."

Carlo Petrini, founder of the nonprofit group Slow Food International, goes a step further, writing that the book "tells us that growing and eating food are political acts that challenge a system that is neither good, nor clean, nor fair."

For more information about Food Justice, go to: http://www.foodjusticebook.org.