Based on critical research, the Food Systems project seeks to create an infrastructural model that is committed to building just and democratic global and local food systems. By identifying and testing strategies designed to impact policy and effect transformative change for fair and sustainable food systems, this area of work intends to support local, national, and global social movements, communities, policy advocates, and researchers on issues related to the process—from production to consumption—of sustainable food systems.

Food, Race and Corporate Power

Shahidi Project: Corporations Decoded

The Shahidi project is an investigative and monitoring initiative that looks at how corporate power influences society. Shahidi (a Kiswahili word meaning witness) intends to promote transparency surrounding the power structures and capacities of large food and agricultural corporations to increase transparency and accountability for the public good. Additionally, the Shahidi project aims to spark a conversation about how to generate further inquiry into how and why corporations exert so much power and influence in the design of agricultural policies as well as the production and consumption of food both nationally and globally.

The project documents corporations’ profits, track records on human rights, labor, and the environment; their congressional lobbying power and influence over government; identifies policy issues, bills, and government regulations which their lobbyists played a role in shaping; and lists their contracts awarded to provide services for federal government agencies. The 10 corporations profiled by the Shahidi project include BungeCargillCarrefour, McDonald's, Monsanto, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Syngenta, Walmart, and Yum! Brands.

Related: See our report on the topic, "The Era of Corporate Consolidation and the End of Competition".

On the Shahidi project website, the 10 companies’ activities are mapped out using interactive features where users can navigate between tabs that offer company profiles, a world map that shows the countries where they operate, specific congressional bills their lobbyists campaigned for or against, the schools or universities to which they made financial contributions, the income disparities between the CEO and lowest-wage workers, lists of companies’ brands, and descriptions of controversies that involve them. To learn more, please visit the Shahidi website here.

The US Farm Bill: Corporate Power and Structural Racialization in the US Food System

A foundational report that provides in-depth analysis for policy change within the US food system by examining and critiquing the US flagship legislation of food and agricultural, the Farm Bill, and its underlying contradictions regarding race and corporate power. Furthermore, the outcomes generated by the US Farm Bill are characterized by widespread social, economic, political, and environmental inequity. These outcomes are characteristic of a society that produces inequity in every domain—social, economic, political, and environmental. The main objective of this project is to fully assess the utility of the Farm Bill as a strategic and long-term rallying point for addressing persistent racial/ethnic, gender, and economic injustices within the US food system. You can download the full report here, or the report brief here.

The Nile Project

The Nile Project inspires Nile citizens to learn about their river and their river neighbors, engages individuals and communities in Nile stewardship, and connects them to collaborate on creative solutions to Nile sustainability challenges. The GJP works with the Nile Project’s top researchers and leading community and civil society organizations to broaden awareness of the true structural forces and dynamics of the persistent food crisis in the Nile Basin. The ultimate goal of this collaboration is to substantially increase local and transboundary capacities for meaningful integration and communities’ involvement to create positive change within the Nile Basin’s food systems. The GJP supports the relationship between the Nile Project and UC Berkeley by hosting the group’s musical performance at UC Berkeley, supporting the Nile Project’s university program amongst Nile Basin countries, and facilitating workshops and trainings with the Nile Project’s fellows in the Nile Basin countries.

Food Sovereignty Project 

As the global food system crises have its connection to nearly every major ecological, economic, and sociopolitical challenge that the world faces, food sovereignty emerged as a new alternative for imagining, seeking, and defining a more just future of food. And operating under the title of “Food Sovereignty,” this project aims to popularize food sovereignty as the premier analytical framework for addressing the systemic crises of local and global food systems. Our first initiative was to establish a working group on food sovereignty, the Africans food sovereignty working group as a first step to the larger project which will compile successful case studies of food sovereignty projects from the US and globally. 

The Africans Food Sovereignty Working Group (AFSWG)

AFSWG an informal monthly-guided discussion on a wide range of topics related to Africans’ food systems. AFSWG aims to popularize food sovereignty a framework and tool to tackle systemic crises of the food system, and uplift successful food sovereignty projects nationally and from around the world, in particular projects led by African women farmers and African and African diasporic communities, and features projects that combat hunger, poverty, gender inequity, discrimination, and climate change. The working group is the inaugural initiative toward a larger project on food sovereignty. 

The Landscape of Food Sovereignty (forthcoming)

In response to the global food system crisis and its connection to nearly every major ecological, economic, and sociopolitical challenge that the world faces, food sovereignty emerged as a new alternative for imagining, seeking, and defining a more just future of food. This project will showcase initiatives from around the world and the United States (with narratives, infographs, maps, diagrams, etc.) that have achieved or are in the process of achieving a greater degree of success to tackle systemic crises of food. 

Bay Area Food Systems 

This project aims to support the growing food movement on UC Berkeley’s campus and surrounding communities with the purpose to transform the campus and community food systems to be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. 

Building an Equitable & Inclusive Food System at UC Berkeley

This is a collaborating effort with the Berkeley Food Institute in a cross-sectoral fashion with multiple partners at UC Berkeley and across the Bay Area to: design and hold convenings, workshops, and trainings on UC Berkeley’s campus and in the larger community; engage in critical dialogue to foster greater understanding, and identify best practices to alleviate the burden of systemic crises of campus-related and community-related food insecurity impacting students, workers, and the Bay Area community; and continue creating brave spaces for open dialogue and critical thinking to cultivate a more socially just campus, where food and agricultural research, teaching, activism, and operations are equitable and inclusive. 

Richmond Food Justice and Community Health

Collaborating with local community leaders and organizations in Richmond, California, in the community engagement and the report that emerged from it, the report Food Justice and Community Health in Richmond outlines strategies that promote engaged partnerships between UC Berkeley and the Richmond community in order to actualize transformational food system change. The report is the culmination of more than three years of work in Richmond in partnership with local community leaders and organizations. The work revolved around the development of the Berkeley Global Campus (BGC) in Richmond and the Global Food Initiative (GFI), and sought to align those initiatives’ values of sustainability, equity, and global inclusion with the aspirations of the local community in Richmond. The policy brief provides a general overview of food systems and community health, followed by a description of the current landscape of existing food challenges and food equity efforts in Richmond as well as food-related work at UC Berkeley and within the Global Food Initiative.