A couple of really interesting pieces of content have risen to the surface for us lately. First up, from Food & Power’s Humon Heidarian, a three part series on the role of farmland investing in building a more equitable food system (see: Deep Pockets in Farmland Investment Exacerbate Racial Inequities). Also on the table this month is an excellent new interview from FS6 mentor and all-around shaker-uper, Errol Schweizer in conversation with Kamea Chayne of Green Dreamer (see: Ep 319 Navigating the exploitive food system towards worker justice).
While each of these pieces takes a unique perspective on the issues at hand, they overlap around the contradictions of working towards food justice in a capitalist system. Errol gives the challenging diagnosis that “the food industry is ground zero for injustice, imbalance, and exploitation.” And as we look out at a landscape where “the top 1% of farms operate more than 70% of the world’s farmland,” Heidarian notes that this consolidation “will disproportionately harm farmers of color in the U.S. and around the world who face barriers to credit access, disparities in intergenerational wealth, and less protection from land dispossession.”
“Without regulation, [land markets] almost inevitably become markets of exclusion and concentration where inequalities steadily increase.” - Humon Heidarian
It is essential that we continue to elevate this conversation - to pull the curtains back on the dangerous trends that will continue to push frontline and marginalized communities further to the sidelines of the food system. We need to be asking questions beyond “is this healthy?” or “is this organic?” and start thinking about who is making the decisions, who is benefiting from the successes, and who is growing, processing, and profiting from the food on our tables.
“I really feel if the decision-makers actually reflected the food system, food trends would look a lot different.” - Errol Schwiezer
The good news is, the conversation is beginning to shift and innovators across the frontlines are rethinking what it means to focus on true systemic transformation, rather than the latest industry trends (see: FS6 CEO, Caesaré Assad in conversation with Food Tank). FS6 Portfolio innovators like Reem's, CoFED, Umi Feeds, and Firebrand Artisan Breads (amongst others) are using their work to build a more diversified, representative, and equitable food and agriculture landscape. We are seeing, more and more, industry leaders who understand that food is sacred. That it is a human right to have access to clean, healthy, and nourishing food. And FS6 is rising to meet this moment. This conversation is part of the work we are doing at FS6 to deepen our focus on justice and equity - stay tuned for more.
We are all in this together, as we build toward a more just and regenerative 6th Food System.
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FS6 Portfolio Updates
Articles featuring FS6 Portfolio Companies
Podcast: Why Food? - Arab Street Food, California Style (Heritage Radio Network, featuring Reem's California)
Podcast: Regenerative Poultry - An Indigenous Perspective (How Good, featuring Regenerative Poultry Systems)
Gleaning for Food Justice (Musings Magazine, featuring Farm to Pantry)
Making Oat Milk Creates Significant Waste—These 4 Brands Have Found Smart, Sustainable Ways To Use It (Well and Good, featuring Renewal Mill)
How Upcycling Fights Food Insecurity and Climate Change - Part 1 & Part 2 (Waste360, featuring Matriark Foods)
Podcast: How Innovative Data Solutions are Increasing Efficiency and Combating Climate Change in Agriculture (Larta Institute - Deeper Dive, featuring Regrow)
FS6 is a nonprofit based in the San Francisco Bay Area whose mission is to support impact-driven entrepreneurs as they transform how we grow, produce, and distribute food. The organization runs a comprehensive accelerator program that mentors entrepreneurs by coaching them through a wide range of business and organizational needs. FS6 also works to educate stakeholders on the unique capital needs as it relates to redefining the food system.