How health-conscious urban gardeners aim to increase vegetable consumption in their community while simultaneously supporting Black entrepreneurship
While the food justice movement was initially associated with increasing availability of fresh produce in low-income communities of color through institutions such as farmers markets, scholars have critiqued this as imposing a right way of eating. Food justice scholarship has moved away from a focus on healthy eating toward a focus on community economic development, as food enterprises can stimulate job creation. This paper investigates the dual goals of the food justice movement through a case study in San Diego. While food justice has moved beyond promoting a love of produce and is increasingly oriented toward good jobs, for the urban gardeners in this study, the movement is still a lot about vegetables. They see food as medicine, and note the health benefits of moving toward a plant-based diet. Yet, they are reluctant to push this way of eating on others, as they do not want to come across as elitist. Instead, they spread awareness that plant-based diets are an African tradition that should not just be associated with rich white folks. Rather than leading with nutrition, they lead with tradition, taste, and buying Black. To encourage consumption of vegetables, they aim to increase the supply of prepared food options in the community, and to market dishes as delicious rather than healthy, all the while supporting Black food entrepreneurs. When selling produce direct to the consumer through farmers markets does not achieve their vision of promoting health or supporting livelihoods, they re-imagine a strategy of promoting food justice through a neighborhood food supply chain.
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