Social Impacts of Our Food System

Key Facts

Farm workers in the food production system are vulnerable to:

  • Health hazards that result from handling pesticides or inhaling toxic fumes from animal waste.
  • Injury caused by maneuvering dangerous machinery.
  • Sexual harassment and abuse by their supervisors or other workers.
  • Wage theft.

Why It Matters

Food justice addresses the fact that there are many places along our food chain where people’s vulnerabilities are exploited and where injustice and inequity turn up. The first place is on the farm. The production of most of our food, from fruits and vegetables to meat and poultry, relies on human labor – these workers make it possible for our food system to function. Their work pays poorly, is often unregulated, and falls to those will tolerate such conditions because they have few other choices. There is also injustice in terms of who lives in and around the industrial farms that pollute our air, water and soil. Often it is marginalized communities who do not have the resources to speak out against their communities being destroyed. Finally, there is a lot of inequity — and a need for food justice — when it comes to who has access to enough food to eat, and then who has access to food that is sustainably produced as well as nourishing and healthy.

Truly sustainable food must be produced in a way that takes into account not only the environment and consumers, but also people. That includes the people who grow, harvest and process our food; the people who live in and around farms; and… everyone who eats.