‘The food system is racist’: an activist used a garden to tackle inequities

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Renowned urban farmer Karen Washington coined the phrase ‘food apartheid’. Now the Bronx-based activist says a shift of power is urgent

Karen Washington is a New York-based community activist and urban farmer who coined the term “food apartheid” to describe the structural inequalities in America’s food system. It’s by design not accident, she argues, that people of color are denied access to nutritious affordable food, farmland and business opportunities in the food industry.

For more than 35 years, Washington has pushed the predominantly white food justice movement to tackle the root causes of these inequities through transformative grassroots action and political pressure. She is the co-founder of the La Familia Verde Garden Coalition, the Black Urban Growers and most recently the Black Farmer Fund, a community wealth building organization investing in Black food entrepreneurs.

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