What is a food system?
The food system is a complex web of activities involving the production, processing, transport, and consumption of food (1). Issues concerning the food system include the governance and economics of food production, its sustainability, the degree to which we waste food, how food production affects the natural environment and the impact of food on individual and population health.
What is a community food system?
Defined in several ways, a community food system is most generally defined as a system in which sustainable food production, processing, distribution, and consumption are integrated to enhance the environmental, economic, and social and nutritional health of a particular place (2).
Community food systems have a large appeal because they allow for farmers to receive a larger portion of the food dollar, connect customers with the supply chain, and strengthen communities economically and socially (2). Geographically, community food systems are designated by the residents of the community. In Indiana that could be a county, group of counties, region of the state, or even a region that crosses state borders- the important aspect is that the residents consider themselves a community and identify with it.
What is racial equity and why is it important?
Racial equity is both a process and an outcome. As a process, racial equity is when those most impacted by structural inequities are meaningfully involved in development and -implementation of policies and practices that impact their lives. As an outcome, racial equity is achieved when race no longer plays a role in an individual’s socioeconomic outcome (3).
Racial equity, in both forms, is important for the continuous improvement of the lives of non-white Hoosiers. Racial equity within all systems in Indiana lead to better economic, social, and health outcomes, among others. All Hoosiers should have the ability to live thriving, healthy lives that are absent of discrimination, racism, and inequitable opportunities based on historical and recent policy decisions and social norms.
What is an equitable food system?
According to Policy Link, an equitable food system can be defined as “a system that creates a new paradigm in which all- including those most vulnerable and those living in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color- can fully participate, prosper, and benefit. It is a system that, from farm to table, from processing to disposal, ensure economic opportunity; high quality jobs with living wages; safe working conditions; access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food; and environmental sustainability” (4).
An overview of the implications of historical policies and programs cannot be fully representative or encompassed in this section, but we hope to provide some historical context and resources on the topic of institutionalized racism in the United States and its impact on today’s food system. Below we explore 5 topics connected to the food system and the racism that exists within it.