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Lexicon of Sustainability

Watchword: Food Security

Watchword: Food Security
To draw attention to the best and brightest ideas in sustainability, the Lexicon of Sustainability's Food List project defines the words that are integral to a healthy, transparent, and accountable food system. Each week, we explore a new word through artwork, films, recipes, and written works. See all Food List words here. 

Food Security: Not everyone knows where his or her next meal is coming from. For many people, obtaining food isn’t as easy as traveling to the nearest grocery store, and sometimes the grocery stores that exist in a neighborhood or town don't have healthy, affordable, or culturally appropriate food.

There are many complex reasons an individual might be food insecure. Poverty is usually the driving factor, but the root causes of poverty—including socioeconomic and political problems—are multifacted.  

“Food access is determined by a variety of factors. The income of people experiencing hunger, the racial or cultural background of certain populations, and the distance between people and food markets. [To counter this], people have developed approaches to promote neighborhood-based food retail outlets or community gardens in disadvantaged communities, and public education campaigns to highlight such inequities as the prevalence of low-quality corner and convenience stores in underserved communities.”

—Wayne Roberts, former director of Toronto’s Food Policy Council

Short film: "Food Security"

The terms food security and food sovereignty are often used interchangeably, even though they mean different things. Erika Allen of Chicago’s Growing Power explains that food security considers whether a person knows where his or her next meal is coming from, while food sovereignty defends a community’s right to decide how they’re fed.

Recipe: Spinach and Black Bean Burrito with Salsa by Chef Ann Cooper

Burritos are a tasty way to wrap up plenty of protein and nutrients for your kid's school lunch—or your own.

Is healthy, affordable food readily available in your community, or are you living in a food desert? Tell us in the comments below, and follow us for more on food security throughout the week.  

For the past three years, the Lexicon of Sustainability has sought out the foremost practitioners of sustainability in food and farming to gain their insights and experiences on this important subject. What began as a photography project to spread their knowledge has grown to include short films, study guides, traveling shows, a book, and a website where people can add their own terms to this ever-evolving lexicon. See more at

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