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  • Hannah Ridge

Our Stance On Racism and #BlackLivesMatter

A message from our President and Co-Founder:

Since 2013, the Ethical Farming Fund has aimed to build a more humane food system by connecting consumers to local farms that prioritize animal welfare. But the truth is, if every factory farm in America were to shut down at midnight, we would not wake up to a humane food system. The process of getting food from the farm to your plate is riddled with unjust barriers and to make matters worse, the color of your skin often determines how high those barriers loom.

We cannot ignore the racism in our food system when Black households are more than twice as likely to face hunger than white households; when one in four Black children struggles to get enough to eat; when prison labor is increasingly used to grow food all the while people of color comprise a disproportionate size of the prison population; when less than 2% of all American farmers are Black; when the factory farms that pollute our air and waterways are disproportionately found in communities of color. We simply cannot ignore the inherent racism of these facts.

When I talk to people about farm animal welfare, nobody ever says, “But what about poaching? What about puppy mills?” As human beings, we understand that someone can feel passionately about one issue without taking away from the gravity of others. I won’t argue that you can’t find people of all races that face the challenges I mentioned, and I do not mean to minimize their struggle. But when the deficiency is felt more heavily by one group of people, there is a singular and systemic problem at work.

We state unequivocally that Black lives matter. We hope to see justice achieved for George Floyd and for Breonna Taylor—the justice that has been withheld from countless innocent Black Americans spanning the entirety of our nation’s existence.

While millions across the world are having these urgent discussions, we want to contribute to that momentum and draw your attention to the food and agriculture organizations whose missions serve communities of color. We’re proud to see Pittsburgh’s own Black Urban Gardeners and Farmers of Pittsburgh Co-op in this list from Civil Eats. We encourage you to lend them your support as they work toward a more equitable food system. We’d also like to share with you a list of Black-owned food businesses in Pittsburgh, compiled by Good Food Pittsburgh. Supporting these businesses is a simple, everyday way that you can counteract the uphill battle faced by Black business owners.

Over these past long days, our team has been listening, learning, and thinking about our organization’s role in the fight against racism. To that end, we have drafted a resolution to hold two seats on our small board of directors specifically for people of color. It is a directive that we should have had since our founding and one that any sustainability-minded organization would be wise to implement. In order to make lasting and equitable change, it is absolutely necessary to have voices of color at the table where decisions are being made, not least because communities of color are the most impacted by any failings of the food supply chain.

If you are reading this message, it likely means that you care about our foodshed. For that reason, we encourage you to read more about racism in food and agriculture, starting with some of the links below. We hope you will join us in the hard and just fight against racism, both in our food system and in our society.

In solidarity,

Hannah Ridge

Organizations working toward food and land justice:

Black-Owned Businesses and Restaurants You Can Support In Pittsburgh:

Further Reading:


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