Ensuring food has a future means ensuring social justice

20 February 2013

Today the spotlight shines on the millions of people who are hungry, experiencing discrimination and exploitation, who are having their human rights violated and who are struggling just to survive. Observed each year on 20 February, the World Day of Social Justice is an acknowledgement that many men, women and children live and work in precarious conditions, and that we need to do better.

The food and beverage industry, on which Fairfood concentrates its efforts, has a massive impact on the world. Food and agriculture is the single largest industry in the world . In poor countries, agriculture and the food industry typically account for 50% of gross domestic product (GDP) . Agriculture has a crucial role to play in the global economy and as a tool for fostering social and economic development. It is estimated that investments in agriculture have a capacity for poverty reduction that is larger than those in any other sector . However, evidence of the negative impacts of the food industry over the past five decades, especially on the livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable people and the ecological integrity of the planet is a cause for grave concern.

These days the idea that companies should take responsibility for the impact their actions have on the world is generally accepted, but not yet universally upheld. In order for social justice to become a reality in this all-important sector, organisations like Fairfood International continue to advocate for sustainability because we believe that just as much as companies can create or exacerbate sustainability problems along their supply chains, they also have the ability to transform supply chains for the better. By addressing sustainability from a balanced (social, environmental and economic) perspective, companies have the ability to protect, respect and value the sustainable management of natural resources, improve the livelihoods of vulnerable people around the world and foster fair economic development.

At Fairfood, “ensuring food has a future” is more than a mantra; it has far reaching implications for health, wealth, justice and our very survival. By encouraging companies to address harmful practices and policies within the food and beverage industry, Fairfood endeavours to act on behalf of everyone, because we are all touched by this global system which we have labelled “broken”. It is broken because when companies fail to take responsibility for actions within their supply chains, people and planet lose out to profit; this is not sustainable and it is definitely not justice.

In solidarity with vulnerable people in our global food system for whom social justice is still an aspiration, Fairfood continues to pressure food and beverage companies to make the changes which will result in respect for human rights, access to opportunities and resources, and the elimination of child, forced and unsafe labour. The result will be real social justice for those directly harmed by negligent and unscrupulous practices and the demise of the moral dilemmas faced by everyone rightly concerned about the hidden “ingredients” in their food.

Check out Fairfood’s list of things you can do to take a stand for social justice.