Food Security | The Lexicon of Sustainability | PBS Food

Food Security



The politics and culture of food are often expressed in terms of food security and food sovereignty. These two terms are often used interchangeably, even though they mean different things. Erika Allen of Chicago’s Grower Power explains that food security considers whether a person knows where his or her next meal is coming from, while food sovereignty defends a community’s right to decide how they are fed.

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Food Terms

Food Sovereignty
= livelihood + self-determination
The ability of community members to control food access (both effluent and influent) independent of outside food sources (such as supermarkets). It’s community elders grow traditional fruits and vegetables and fisher folk go shrimping, fishing, and crabbing to sell at local stores, the local Saturday farmer’s market, and most importantly, to feed their families and community members.
– Xuyen Pham, MQVN

Food security
Food security has now been reinterpreted in some places as community food security, as access to fresh, healthy and affordable food not just on an individual level, but within the entire community. The emphasis is on access, but people can have access to food without being in control of those food sources.
– Professor Kristin Reynolds, New School for Public Engagement

Food desert
Food challenges facing low-income communities, areas without supermarkets or neighborhood grocery stores, where nutritious food is scarce or non-existent.
– LOCAL: The New Face of Food and Farming in America, by Douglas Gayeton

Food justice
Food is a basic right for all people.
– Blue Peetz, GRuB

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Featured in the Film

Erika Allen
Growing Power
Chicago, Illinois
Erika Allen is Chicago and National Projects Director for Growing Power, headquartered in Chicago. As the daughter of retired basketball player and urban farmer Will Allen, she has small farm agricultural background and experience. She spent her formative years involved in all aspects of farm management from transplanting seedlings to managing farm stands and farmerÂ’s markets.

Xuyen Pham
East New Orleans, Louisiana
Currently, Ms. Xuyen takes care of her farm along with her husband, and wishes to continue providing fresh produce for her family, community, and markets throughout New Orleans.

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