The theme this week is “Regenerating and Re-patterning.”

Today’s topic is New Patterns:  Equitable and Liberating Forms of Food System Governance 


01 Learn

Government and governance have both been and continue to be forces for perpetuating and exacerbating racial inequities. By governance, we mean “the processes of interaction and decision-making among actors involved in  collective problem-solving that lead to the creation, reinforcement, or reproduction of social norms and institutions.” Governance happens through government, and also through organizations, communities, markets and networks. 

There is a long history of formal and informal government actions and institutional governance that reinforces white supremacy at the expense of Black, Indigenous and people of color. The good news is that there has also have been and continues to be efforts to reform existing structures and to create new forms of governance that support food justice and sovereignty, self-determination and racial equity. Watch this 4 minute video about the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE), an initiative of Race Forward and the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society. 

Specifically as relates to food, there has been growth in the number of food policy councils around the country, many of which are putting fairness and equity at the center of their work. The aim of these councils is to “identify and propose innovative solutions to improve local or state food systems, spurring local economic development and making food systems more environmentally sustainable and socially just.”  You can learn more about food policy councils through the Center for a Livable Future. Begin by checking out this visual that captures achievements of councils around the country.

In addition, we are increasingly seeing new ways of making decisions in organizations and businesses through “new governance systems,” such as sociocracy and holacracy. See this example in a 3 minute video from Circle Forward.   

02 ReflectAs you read/watch about government and governance shifts and alternatives that support racial equity, what comes up for you? What systems of governance are you a part of and what and who do these serve?

How active are you in advocating for shifts in government and governance so that racial justice moves to the center? What alternative governance forms are you engaged in that support more equitable processes and outcomes?  

03 Act

  • Research whether there is a food policy council near you. You can consult this directory from the Center for a LIvable Future.  See what their conversations and actions are around racial equity in the food system. Reach out and bring your questions and ideas to the next meeting. 
  • Reach out to local and state government/elected officials and inquire about how they are considering racial inequities in their policy making. Consult the toolkits from GARE to bring questions and considerations to their attention.
  • Bring a critical eye to the existing governance models in your organization, business, community, or school. How are these aligned with the goals of racial equity? A helpful tool for gauging this is a race equity impact assessment. Bring these questions to members of these governing bodies. 
  • Experiment with new processes for interaction and decision-making.

04 Digging Deeper, Time Permitting…