The “food movement” is building momentum and scoring key victories. Justice has become a key part of the narrative. But much more remains to be done. These were some of the observations offered by a panel of experts at a recent food justice forum. More than 250 people jammed a lecture hall to take part in the forum, sponsored by the UC Berkeley Food Institute, UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources, the Student Environmental Resource Center, and UC’s Global Food Initiative. The topic was “Cultivating Justice in Food Systems: People, Power and Policy.”

The forum, which is part of the UC Global Food Initiative Food Equity Lecture Series, highlighted the importance of equity across the food system, and justice for all those who labor in the food chain, from farm laborers to retail workers to restaurant workers.

Alec Rosenberg reports for the University of California:


“The food system is not a bad employer; it is the absolute worst employer in the U.S.,” [Saru] Jayaraman said. “There’s no way to think about sustainable food without thinking about sustainable wages.”

Jayaraman lamented that the federal minimum wage for tipped workers is only $2.13 per hour but is encouraged by other efforts to raise standards — and wages — for food workers.

“It’s not just about (raising the hourly minimum wage to) $15,” Jayaraman said. “It’s fundamentally about power.”


The forum was part of the University of California’s Global Food Initiative, which seeks to harness the institution’s resources to help the effort to sustainably and nutritiously feed a growing world population. Learn more about the initiative here.



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