Skip navigation
Hardcover | Out of Print | 304 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 19 b&w photos | September 2010 | ISBN: 9780262072915
Paperback | $24.95 Trade | £19.95 | 304 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 19 b&w photos | January 2013 | ISBN: 9780262518666
eBook | $17.95 Trade | September 2010 | ISBN: 9780262289887
Mouseover for Online Attention Data

Food Justice


In today’s food system, farm workers face difficult and hazardous conditions, low-income neighborhoods lack supermarkets but abound in fast-food restaurants and liquor stores, food products emphasize convenience rather than wholesomeness, and the international reach of American fast-food franchises has been a major contributor to an epidemic of “globesity.” To combat these inequities and excesses, a movement for food justice has emerged in recent years seeking to transform the food system from seed to table. In Food Justice, Robert Gottlieb and Anupama Joshi tell the story of this emerging movement.

A food justice framework ensures that the benefits and risks of how food is grown and processed, transported, distributed, and consumed are shared equitably. Gottlieb and Joshi recount the history of food injustices and describe current efforts to change the system, including community gardens and farmer training in Holyoke, Massachusetts, youth empowerment through the Rethinkers in New Orleans, farm-to-school programs across the country, and the Los Angeles school system’s elimination of sugary soft drinks from its cafeterias. And they tell how food activism has succeeded at the highest level: advocates waged a grassroots campaign that convinced the Obama White House to plant a vegetable garden. The first comprehensive inquiry into this emerging movement, Food Justice addresses the increasing disconnect between food and culture that has resulted from our highly industrialized food system.

About the Authors

Robert Gottlieb is Emeritus Professor of Urban & Environmental Policy and founder and former Director of the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College. He is the author of Reinventing Los Angeles: Nature and Community in the Global City (MIT Press) and other books.

Anupama Joshi is the Executive Director and Cofounder of the National Farm to School Network, a project of Tides Center (formerly based at the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College).

Table of Contents

  • Food Justice
  • Food, Health, and the Environment
  • Series Editor: Robert Gottlieb, Henry R. Luce Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy. Occidental College
  • Keith Douglass Warner,
  • Agroecology in Action: Extending Alternative Agriculture through Social Networks
  • Christopher M. Bacon, V. Ernesto Méndez, Stephen R. Gliessman, David Goodman, and Jonathan A. Fox, eds.,
  • Confronting the Coffee Crisis: Fair Trade, Sustainable Livelihoods and Ecosystems in Mexico and Central America
  • Thomas A. Lyson, G. W. Stevenson, and Rick Welsh, eds.,
  • Food and the Mid-Level Farm: Renewing an Agriculture of the Middle
  • Jennifer Clapp and Doris Fuchs, eds.,
  • Corporate Power in Global Agrifood Governance
  • Robert Gottlieb and Anupama Joshi,
  • Food Justice
  • Food Justice
  • Robert Gottlieb and Anupama Joshi
  • The MIT Press
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • London, England
  • ©
  • 2010
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.
  • For information about special quantity discounts, please email
  • This book was set in Sabon by Toppan Best-set Premedia Limited. Printed and bound in the United States of America.
  • Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
  • Gottlieb, Robert, 1944–
  • Food justice / Robert Gottlieb and Anupama Joshi.
  •  p. cm.—(Food, health, and the environment)
  • Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • ISBN 978-0-262-07291-5 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. Food industry and trade—Moral and ethical aspects. 2. Food industry and trade—Environmental aspects. 3. Agriculture—Environmental aspects. 4. Sustainable agriculture.  5. Food—Marketing. 6. Grocery trade. I. Joshi, Anupama. II. Title.
  • HD9000.5.G675 2010
  • 363.8—dc22
  • 2010008275
  • 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
  • Contents
  • Series Foreword ix
  • Introduction: Taking Root 1
  • Rethinking School Food in New Orleans 1
  • Defining Food Justice 4
  • Why a Book on Food Justice? 7
  • I An Unjust Food System 11
  • 1 Growing and Producing Food 13
  • Slavery in the Fields 13
  • Farmworkers at the Margins 18
  • The Canary’s Song: Chemicals in the Factories and on the Land 22
  • Turning Farms into Factories 27
  • Cows: “A Great Place to Live”? 30
  • Swine: Stench and Sludge 32
  • Chickens: The Tyson Way 35
  • 2 Accessing Food 39
  • Grocery Gaps 39
  • Supersizing Supermarkets 43
  • Cars to Carts 46
  • The Tesco Invasion 48
  • Convenient Calorie Culture 51
  • Eating Out, Fast, Cheap, and More 55
  • 3 Consuming Food 59
  • Dismantling
  • Malbouffe 59
  • Downsizing Cooking 60
  • Health Not on the Label 65
  • Overfed but Poorly Nourished 68
  • Manipulating Food Choices 69
  • 4 Food Politics 75
  • The People’s Department 75
  • Farm Bill Debates 79
  • School Food Politics 87
  • Taming Hunger 91
  • Cultivating Change 96
  • 5 The Food System Goes Global 99
  • Chinese Garlic in the United States, Potato Chips in China 99
  • Black Rice and Banana Republic 103
  • Going Global 106
  • Wal-Mex Takes Over 109
  • Globesity 111
  • Food Sovereignty: Global Struggles 114
  • II Food Justice Action and Strategies 121
  • 6 Growing Justice 123
  • The Little Farm in Paper City 123
  • The Battles in the Fields 126
  • Immigrants Breaking Ground 134
  • Reinventing Farming 138
  • Urban Farmers 145
  • 7 Forging New Food Routes 151
  • A Philadelphia Story 151
  • At Face Value 156
  • Farmers’ Markets for All? 163
  • A Share in the Harvest: The CSA Model 167
  • Scaling Up: The Farm to School Program 171
  • 8 Transforming the Food Experience 177
  • A Slow Food Epiphany 177
  • Going Local 179
  • Connecting with Food 186
  • A Place-Based Food Culture 190
  • 9 A New Food Politics 197
  • Sowing the Seeds of CFP 197
  • Filling a Vacuum: Food Policy Councils 201
  • State Campaigns 206
  • School Food Revolution 210
  • Empowering the Hungry 215
  • 10 An Emerging Movement 221
  • Eat the View 221
  • The Multiple Layers of Food Justice 223
  • The Change Agenda 231
  • Finding a Voice 233
  • Notes 239
  • Index 281


Food Justice makes a highly valuable contribution to the movement for food justice.”—Christof Bernau, Human Ecology
Food Justice is an eye-opening treatment of an important subject that has something to offer every reader, and will prove especially useful to those with a keen interest in learning about, and perhaps changing, where their food comes from.”—Contemporary Sociology
“This book is essential reading for scholars interested in the connections between food and the environment.”—Kathleen A. Brosnan, Environmental History
“The authors excel…in presenting a well-rounded picture of how food justice—and more prevalent food injustices—touches our daily lives.”—Megan C. Bourke, Policy Perspectives
“While their pragmatic and wide-ranging approach to food justice might not be appreciated by environmental purists, the authors' stock of common-sense solutions and genuine concern makes Food Justice an interesting and authoritative read. Their central argument—that the approach to transforming the way we eat needs to be more integrated—is compelling and certainly worth considering. Unfortunately injustices in the way food is produced and consumed won't go away over night. But if, as Food Justice advocates, we work together and focus on community-based initiatives, then we are on the right track.”—Ruth Styles, The Ecologist


“An important contribution to the food policy literature that comes at a critical moment in the food justice movement. Gottlieb and Joshi pull no punches. Their point of view, that the dominant agroindustrial food system is inherently unjust to farm workers, consumers (including our children), and the communities that suffer from the external costs of food production, comes through loud and clear.”
Nevin Cohen, Eugene Lang College, New School for Liberal Arts
Food Justice is about who grows our food, how it is grown, where it is grown, who gets to eat, and the pleasure and celebration of eating food that is good food, clean food, fair food. Food Justice tells us that growing and eating food are political acts that challenge a system that is neither good, nor clean, nor fair. Read it!”
Carlo Petrini, founder, Slow Food International
Food Justice is exactly what is needed to understand what is happening in today’s food movement. The book explains how movement participants advocate in different ways for a more ethical food system and examines dozens of groups working for change at the local, national, and international levels. It should inspire all of us to advocate for healthier diets for people and the planet, more humane treatment of farm animals, and more supportive policies for farmers, farm workers, and rural communities.”
Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, New York University, author of Food Politics