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Food Insecurity Not Always a Consequence of Lack of Resources


Working toward food justice in Norfolk


By Gabby Nelson

Food justice is one of the most intimate facets of a growing social justice movement. Human beings interact with food every day, but the way the majority of it is currently produced, distributed, and consumed is often harmful to people and to the environment.

Poor neighborhoods lack supermarkets, farm workers face low pay and harsh working conditions, food is produced for convenience rather than wholesomeness, and the environmental burden of large farms and long transports of food is not sustainable. The burden of the current dominant food system is disproportionately carried by the most marginalized and oppressed people, but harms everyone’s health and wellbeing. Martha Page, director of Hartford Food System, explains, “Food insecurity in Connecticut is not the result of lack of resources. Similarly, ‘food deserts’ are not natural occurrences. Rather, both these things are often the result of failed policies that do not prioritize justice and equity for all our residents.”

The food justice movement is growing throughout the U.S., seeking to reform the system by creating policies that promote equitable access to food, by bringing back seed biodiversity, encouraging people to consume more wholesome foods and shifting the economic benefits of food production and distribution back to the local community.

Here in Connecticut, there are many organizations working in the area of food justice. Hartford Food System works to improve food access and nutrition in the city through its urban farms, a farmers market, a mobile produce bus, and food justice programs for youth. The Connecticut Food System Alliance works to unite individuals and organizations in creating a better food future for Connecticut, and many cities in the state have urban farming programs, including New Haven Farms, New Britain ROOTS, and FRESH New London. On a regional scale, Food Solutions New England (foodsolutionsne.org) has a vision that includes having at least 50% of the food consumed in New England grown here by 2060. This organization sees farming and fishing as important economic forces in the region and its vision seeks to foster vibrant communities through more sustainably and locally produced food.

Some ways to work toward food justice in Norfolk include:

Support the farmers market. The Norfolk Farmers Market is one of the most vibrant in the state. To orient your food planning around the farmers’ market, learn what is available throughout the growing season so you can plan meals around what’s locally available; freeze/ferment/can/dry to preserve local foods for consumption later in the year;and challenge yourself to eat at least five locally grown fruits and vegetables a week.

.od: While space abounds in Norfolk to create a large garden or even a small farm, a raised garden bed or a few containers of vegetable plants can produce a surprising harvest. Growing your own food fosters awareness of how food arrives on one’s plate and shows how abundant your own backyard can be. Sharing the fruits of your labor with neighbors strengthens our community connections and can be very rewarding.


Support businesses that align with your values. A consumer’s most powerful vote is with their dollar. There’s no need to wait for election day to vote. Consumers have the ability to express values every day through where their money is spent. Research a business’s values before giving them money. Supporting local farms, artists, and makers is one of the best ways to vote with your dollar.

With the land and resources available in Norfolk, the town has the potential to lead the food justice movement and get to the Food Solutions New England “50% by 2060” goal ahead of schedule.

For more information, go to nefoodvision.org.





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