#16 Black Health Matters Too: Racism in the Food System with Leticia Deawuo

This episode is an eye-opener for everyone.

We hope it raises awareness on how food inequality is an issue among people of color and how low income affects their necessities, especially during the pandemic.

In this episode we sit down with Leticia Deawuo, Director of the Black Creek Community Farm, who shares the challenges present in her community, Jane-Finch, that may be similar to other neighborhoods across North America, as well as providing ways where you can help address these concerns. 

Here’s a look at what we’ll discuss in this episode:

  • [6:12] The fact that it has been black and brown dominantly women who have been feeding our communities for centuries. I think there’s a way that corporations have kind of removed us from that, so we think our food just comes from the grocery store, and the farmer removed, so we don’t have to think about who’s growing the food that we eat.
  • [7:01] Our community was paying about 7% more for fresh producing food and milk in comparison to other neighborhoods across the city. 
  • [7:58] Where you live, and the type of income you have has a direct impact on your health and your overall well-being. 
  • [9:04] If you are a single parent and you are struggling to make ends meet, and you have to choose between your rent and food, you’re going to go with the food that will have a longer shelf life which is most likely not healthy for you, but that is what’s going to feed your family and keep them fed for the long-term. 
  • [9:57] The term I like to use is “food apartheid.” “Food desert” makes it seem like it’s a natural occurrence. It’s no one’s fault. No one has any role to play. It has nothing to do with systemic racism or has nothing to do with the way that governments design our neighborhoods. 
  • [13:58] We can not talk about food without talking about housing and gentrification.
  • [14:31] If people don’t have the income, how can they afford the food?
  •  [14:55] Our whole system relies on the backs of black and brown bodies, but it’s like the food we’re farming is the same food that you can’t even afford to eat.
  • [15:33] It’s not a matter of let’s have more food banks and give more food banks to people, we have to look at those deep colonial, patriarchal, capitalist systems for us to be able to address food insecurity. 
  • [21:00] FoodShare mandates and is really around for justice. We are a grassroots community-led organization, and we didn’t want to work with any other organizations, especially in Toronto, that didn’t have a mandate like us. FoodShare has a leadership that is also black-led, so that was very important for us in terms of the work we’re doing. 
  • [24:51] There’s so much you learn as well about your own culture but also about other people’s culture, and you learn that food brings everybody together. 
  • [26:03] Kids are really smart, and they’re fast learners. They learn, and this is a learning that will stay with them for the long term versus if I sat them down and said this is why we should care for the environment, and this is why it’s important. But because you engage them in the growing of food, they’re able to pick it up, but also the impact stays with them much longer. 
  • [28:28] I think that there are other resources and I think you don’t need to go to shops and buy expensive bins and things. It’s just finding all the things, certain things that you have at home, things that you’ve been throwing out that you could use to grow certain things. 
  • [30:34] If there is an organization in your neighborhood, if their focus is around pay equity and their focus is around job security that’s also doing food justice work, I think that’s something you should definitely get involved in. 
  • [31:53] If you see harm being done, if you see an injustice, speak up. And to speak up against it is very important and I think it’s something all of us can do in our everyday lives. 
  •  [32:53] Reading a book after a very long day, that helps me to sort of remove myself for a little bit from the world and from everything that’s happening on social media.


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