Authors: Claudia Preparata, Research Director
Our food system is broken. A system that fails to meet basic food needs for millions of Americans - while some 40 percent of all food produced is thrown away and not eaten - is one that needs fixing. There are more than 50 million people in the US today who live in food insecure households, with African American and Latino households being amongst the most vulnerable.
The US food industry is one of the most productive in the world and a significant driver of our economy. Yet, it is also a system that places our health, our environment and our livelihoods at risk. Obesity and diabetes rates are on the rise, agricultural runoff is the biggest source of pollution in our rivers and lakes, and it is the site of some of the most dangerous and exploitative labor practices in the country.
The good news is that communities across the country are addressing this crisis in innovative ways. Through different community-based efforts, local activists and food advocates are finding ways to improve community health and environmental outcomes while creating a more economically equitable food system.
Green For All’s new report, Green Jobs in a Sustainable Food System (PDF), looks at the potential to create good, green jobs as the food system is becoming a source of sustainable economic development in local communities. With a growing momentum for sustainable food practices, Green For All examines how jobs in the food system will likely be transformed. This initial analysis is promising in that workers will have access to skill-based career ladders. We hope the study will serve as a springboard for additional research on the potential for jobs in a green food economy.
Local food system change is ultimately limited by policies that shape our conventional food system. Stakeholders who seek to affect change should not only consider how to foster exciting innovation in their communities but also policy advocacy around food and agriculture policies, especially with the upcoming renewal of the Farm Bill in 2012.