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Knowing “Good Food”: Immigrant Knowledge and the Racial Politics of Farmworker Food Insecurity



Abstract: This article explores the ways that farmworkers, many of whom come from a culture deeply rooted in food and agricultural practices, cope with food insecurity by utilizing their agricultural and nutritional knowledge. Food assistance providers in the USA often treat farmworkers' inability to afford healthy food as a lack of knowledge about healthy eating, reinforcing racialized assumptions that people of color don't know “good” food. I argue that in contrast to food banks and low-income nutrition programs, home and community gardens provide spaces for retaining and highlighting agricultural, cultural, and dietary practices and knowledge. This paper investigates the linkages between workers' place in the food system as both producers and consumers, simultaneously exploited for their labor, and creating coping strategies utilizing agrarian and culinary knowledge. I argue that food security and healthy eating, rather than being a matter of consumers making healthy “choices”, is a matter of class-based and racial differences in the food system.