The Harvard Food Law Society and the Food Literacy Project hosted the “Just Food? Forum on Justice in the Food System” at Harvard Law School (HLS) recently.
Margiana Petersen-Rockney, director of the Food Literacy Project, and Alexandra Jordan, a second-year student at HLS, organized the forum under Harvard’s yearlong Food Better initiative, which was created to discuss issues surrounding what we eat.
The forum, the first of its kind at Harvard, welcomed more than 500 attendees and more than 80 presenters, and included panels, workshops, keynote talks, and informal networking time. According to the “Just Food?” website, the gathering on
March 28-29 aimed to “bring together scholars, activists, practitioners, and other authorities to discuss the growing concern that our methods of production, marketing, processing, distributing, and consuming food are not equitable, just, healthy, or sustainable for our communities.”
“Justice requires that there be a possible vision of food quality and availability,” said HLS Dean Martha Minow, who is also the Morgan and Helen Chu Professor of Law, in her welcoming address. “We are all here because we want to see a more inclusive food movement. We are all consumers, we all have a say, and we challenge you to be an active participant.”
Here are overviews for some of the panels, which ranged from discussions of religion and food, to the effects of the quinoa market, to universities’ responsibilities, to working with low-income consumers:
#quinoaguilt: Problems and Solutions for Conscientious Consumers
Pilar Eguez, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Illinois, whose research focuses on “the relationships between nutrition, lifestyle factors, and chronic disease among aging populations in Latin America,” discussed the importance of understanding basic global food politics and the elements of racism and colonialist consumer attitudes that affect the global market, and trade between developed and developing countries. Topics included the “gentrification” of the food system and an emphasis on changing local food systems, as shown in various case studies. Eguez encouraged the attendees to study anthropology as a way to empower individuals to move from cultural appropriation to cultural appreciation in the food system.