Perspective: Nikki Henderson on Food Justice

By WorldLink Staff | November 29, 2012 | Leave a Comment

Everyone has the right to fresh, healthy food. Nikki Henderson, Executive Director of People’s Grocery, talks about the importance of food justice.

Nikki began her work in social justice through the foster care system in Southern California. She was a part of Slow Food USA in Brooklyn, NY, and she co-founded Live Real, a national collaborative of food movement organizations committed to strengthening and expanding the youth food movement in the United States.

Tell us about the work and mission of People’s Grocery.

Nikki Henderson: People’s Grocery is a health and wealth organization whose mission is to improve the health and economy of West Oakland through the local food system. We do that through health projects like our community garden and our partnership with Highland Hospital, and food enterprises like our grocery store spinoff, People’s Community Market; our Grub Box Program; and microenterprises and partnerships with leaders through our Growing Justice Institute.

What is food justice and why does it matter?

Nikki Henderson: Food justice is the belief that healthy food is a human right, so everyone has an inherent right to access healthy, fresh food. Access is a mixture between location, affordability, and cultural appropriateness. Food justice is important for everyone because food is culture. Food is your family. Food is part of how we communicate with each other; it’s how we share our love. Being able to enjoy and prepare food that actually nourishes the body and keeps us healthy is connected to our ability to stay sane as human beings.

The concept of food sovereignty is a global concept, and the concept of food justice is a local concept within America. This is key, because the global peasant farmer movement is huge, and it’s something that people see as being completely necessary and non-negotiable. The right of people to control their own food, the farmer legacy, is a priority in every culture. In different parts of the world, if someone asks, “What are you famous for?” the answer is often, “Our music and our food.”



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