Farm-To-Table In Communities Of Color

Grace Bello | The Atlantic | April 10, 2013

Yuppie-style food activism gets more complicated in communities where farming comes with historical baggage.

"Why would I want to go back to picking cotton?" That's one response you get when you talk to young people of color about farming and food sovereignty, says D.C. farmer and food activist Natasha Bowens. Yet food sovereignty is of vital importance in the broader context of social justice. According to a report by The Applied Research Center, 10 percent of black and Latino families lack access to adequate food--"three times the rate for white households." And while about a third of whites live in an area with a supermarket, only 8 percent of blacks do.

Bowens, author of the blog Brown Girl Farming and founder of The Color of Food, a directory of farmers of color, didn't start out in agriculture. She had never set foot on a farm. But after working at a D.C. think tank on issues related to food, she says, "I was interested in knowing where my food came from." She quit her job to devote herself full-time to farming and food justice. Focusing on communities of color affected by "the broken food system," as she puts it, Bowens worked her way through Detroit, Chicago, and Brooklyn, founding The Color of Food after meeting and talking with Farms to Grow founder Gail Myers at the Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners Conference in 2010. [...]