Last Blog: Food Justice and Final Thoughts

By: Hannah Franco

The food system in the United States is flawed. Like a lot of the issues that plague U.S. institutions and systems, the flaws in our food system can be tied to this country’s capitalist structure and history of racism. In the Galvis reading, he argues that the food system works in favor of helping a privileged minority and therefore, “distribuyendo desproporcionadamente las ‘externalidades’ sociales y ambientales a grupos raciales estigmatizados”[1]. I would support this statement and further argue that this tactic to other is most essential in order to maintain that small and powerful group of elites. Additionally, black and brown bodies have historically been othered for centuries. It is no surprise then or far-fetched to state that poorer neighborhoods of BIPOC communities in the United States suffer the brunt of our food system’s flaws. As discussed in class, these communities experience food insecurity and, compared to their white, wealthier counterparts, they lack access to quality foods. Poor communities live within neighborhoods called food deserts, a term defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as “a low-income tract where a substantial number or substantial share of residents does not have easy access to a supermarket or large grocery store”[2]. South Los Angeles is known for being a food desert, as it has a sea of fast-food options and liquor stores and only a handful of affordable, healthy places.

I currently live near USC in South Los Angeles; however, I experience the food situation differently than a permanent resident. Permanent residents to South LA are generally low-income and so places like Trader Joe’s are not feasible. On the other hand, I and other USC students are lucky enough to have the means to afford these healthy grocery stores. This dynamic illustrates the disparity that exists and how it can disproportionately disadvantage the lower income communities to unhealthy food options and lifestyles.

Looking at the SNAP budget of $200 a month is distressing. When I get groceries at Trader Joe’s, I like to buy fresh produce and my weekly purchases amount roughly $50-60. On top of that, I have the ability to eat out 1-2 times a week and buy daily coffees. The budget offered on SNAP is extremely bare minimum and is stress-inducing over having enough food on the table each night.  

This class was a wonderful experience. I enjoyed every field trip we went on because I would 1) eat great food and 2) get to explore a new part of Los Angeles. My favorite place we visited were the restaurants in Boyle Heights. It’s on my to-do list this summer to go back with family and friends to support the ‘gentefied’ community. I was also lucky enough to take this class with so many other seniors that I recognized from my other Spanish classes. I took a lot of my Spanish classes online and so it was nice to take such a fun class in person with all my peers. Hadee and Anya were especially great classmates and group project partners! Glad we got to spend out last semester at USC together in SPAN 385.



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