Get access

Doing Justice to Bodies? Reflections on Food Justice, Race, and Biology



Abstract: The food justice concept takes disproportionate prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes among people of color as evidence of injustice. Yet several measurements of obesity are based on norms derived from white bodies, which can also be a source of injustice. Part of the conceptual problem lies with reticence to discuss questions of material bodily difference as it relates to race given the legacy of racial science. Noting the distinction between racialism and racism, this article explores ways to think about biological difference in raced bodies, without reducing it to genetics. It draws on insights from Foucauldian notions of race and the new science of epigenetics to suggest that biological difference is more an effect of racism than a cause. Several pathways to obesity exist that have less to do with current day food access or genetic inheritance than with differential exposures that are somatized epigenetically.