Fair food is produced, manufactured, distributed, sold and recycled through fair labor practices and humane treatment of animals. At every point in the food supply chain, workers should receive fair compensation regardless of their ethnicity, age, gender, ability and documentation status and be free from exploitation. Promoting fair food also means that low-income food entrepreneurs in the informal economy, such as street vendors, are not criminalized with harsh fines or arrests for bringing food to communities, and are given economic and policy opportunities. Lastly, fair food includes respect for the lives of all species involved in the food system, including humane conditions and treatment of livestock.
2013 Snapshot Food System Topic Areas:
- Animal Welfare
- Street Vending
- Food System Workers
The key findings in this section are informed by the Dashboard statistics, case studies and expert commentaries.
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Case Study: Good Food Purchasing Policy – Coming soon!
Cultivating a Fair Food Economy in Los Angeles: Joann Lo, Food Chain Workers Alliance
Legalizing Street Food Vending in Los Angeles: Rudy Espinoza, LURN – Coming soon!
How food comes to us is often fraught with troubling injustices, ranging from unsafe conditions facing food workers, to broken immigration policies impacting our food system, to unequal access to healthy foods determined by which neighborhood one resides. Food workers are the backbone of our local food economy. The economic sustainability of Los Angeles’s foodshed hinges on prioritizing the health, safety and welfare of all workers throughout the food chain, and ensuring that each living being involved with bringing our food from farm to plate is treated with fairness, dignity and respect.
The data show that we are moving in the right direction towards a more fair food system locally. Food workers generally are getting paid more as a result of policies to increase the minimum wage, more consumers are demanding food that is produced through ethical labor standards and more innovative economic opportunities are emerging in the food sector to meet growing demand. Despite this progress, injustices throughout our food system continue. Though minimum wage workers are now earning more, the disparity between the highest paid and lowest paid workers in the food system is still huge. Thousands of farm workers continue to operate in unsafe and underpaid working conditions. Sidewalk food vendors in the City of Los Angeles continue to receive costly fines for bring food to communities that need it most and lack a pathway to become a legal business. Food workers in the distribution, manufacturing, retail and food service sectors continue to face inequities in compensation based on gender, ethnicity or documentation status.
Examples of strategies to overcome these persisting challenges include leveraging the procurement power of public institutions to support businesses that uphold fair labor standards and improved working conditions for food workers, developing a legal permitting system for sidewalk food vending in Los Angeles, and supporting partnerships between restaurant workers and chefs to create leadership opportunities for people with barriers to employment. Combined, these efforts to support innovation and build power in communities provide promising models for how we as Angelenos can create a fair food system for all.