A Way Out Of Food Racism And Poverty

Episode 132 1h 7m


Food is a way to empower people and create change. It’s time for us to use it as a tool for changing racial injustice and helping Black, Brown, and low-income communities achieve better health, economic opportunities, and even generational legacies in the form of land ownership.

Many of us have heard the term “food desert” as a way to describe places where fresh, healthy food is not accessible within a certain distance. On this episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy, my guest, Karen Washington, takes this concept to a greater level with her coining of the phrase “food apartheid,” to really portray the overarching inequalities in our food system when it comes to the demographics of race, location, affluence, and economics.

Karen shares her inspiring story of how starting a garden in her backyard in The Bronx led her to understand the bigger issues of food insecurity in underserved communities. As a former physical therapist looking into her patients’ health, she noticed Black and Brown clients were suffering with poor diet and inaccessibility to healthy foods, while white communities were not.

Karen and I discuss how our food system was intentionally planned in a way that is harmful to Black, Brown, and low-income neighborhoods and how she began getting involved as an activist to elicit change.

We also get into the important topic of encouraging people of color to grow their own food. Once again, land ownership in these populations has been stifled due to systemically racist policies. Karen explains how this problem still persists today but thinking of reparations in a new way could lead to meaningful land donations and a new generation of Black and Brown farmers.

We live in a country where we grow and waste enough food to feed everyone but we don’t get it to the people who really need it. Karen and I look at the fundamental flaws in the system that lead to this, along with so many other glaring aspects of a broken food system, in this week’s episode.


This episode is brought to you by Butcher Box, and BiOptimizers. The Doctor’s Farmacy podcast works with a select group of sponsors to allow for ongoing production and allow it to be zero-cost to anyone who wishes to listen to and watch the podcast.

Topics Covered

  • How Karen came to see the relationship between food and health growing up and working as a physical therapist in The Bronx


  • Lack of access to healthy foods in low-income communities and issues of structural racism that are driving health disparities in our society


  • The notion of food deserts vs. food apartheid


  • Encouraging Black youth to embrace farming


  • The broken promise of 40 acres and a mule, Black land loss, Black land ownership, and reparations


  • The power of grassroots efforts, voting, and holding elected officials accountable


  • Why there is no going back from this moment in history


  • Recognizing the impact of structural racism in our food system and beyond


  • Improving communities by implementing school kitchens, financial education, job training, and community wealth building


  • Understanding the history of how food has been used as a weapon among BIPOC communities


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Ep. 132 - A Way Out Of Food Racism And Poverty