Working Paper Series

Working Paper 1 • 2021

Food for Justice: Power, Politics, and Food Inequalities in a Bioeconomy Preliminary Research Program


The Junior Research Group Food for Justice examines normative questions of inequalities and justice, rights and democracy that arise in disputes surrounding the question “how are we going to feed the world?”. Increasingly, citizens perceive the global food system as part of the historical causes of the ecological crisis and the persisting hunger in the world. Although reasons for these causal links are long known (the use of food for profit, the gap between production and consumption, conflicts over land and water, exploitative labour relations, the energy matrix and waste generation, among others), research on food security and the bioeconomy tend to rely on the same, searching for technological fixes to a profit-oriented model exploiting living matter. What is needed to deepen the debate is more knowledge about which food system citizens desire, which solutions are already there to address the social concerns and how to redirect public policies towards a fair, democratic and sustainable food system. Combining theoretical perspectives on global entangled inequalities with social movement research, Food for Justice will look at challenges and solutions both in Europe (with a focus on Germany) and in Latin America (focusing on Brazil). The research consists of case studies of social mobilization targeting injustices in the food system and case studies of social technologies and political innovations, such as agroecology and alternative food networks. Food for Justice aims at providing a theoretical and conceptual framework, grounded on empirical research, to analyse social and political experimentations that address inequalities based on class, gender, race, ethnicity, rurality, citizenship, thus building fair, democratic and ecological food relations.

_ Keywords: food inequalities, bioeconomy, food justice, food security, food sovereignty, social movements

Working Paper 2 • 2021

Marcha das Margaridas 2019: alimentação, mobilização social e feminismos


This paper presents the data collected in the survey Marcha das Margaridas 2019: food, social mobilization and gender, whose objective was to understand the social composition and the perception of activists on these issues. The survey was conducted on August 13 and 14, 2019 in face-to-face (458) and self-administered form (1657) modalities. The Marcha das Margaridas is one of the case studies of the Food for Justice Research Group, which analyzes social mobilizations that counter injustices in food systems, as well as social and political innovations that confront multiple and intersectional inequalities such as class, gender, race, ethnicity and nationality, in the construction of just and ecological food systems.

_ Keywords: Marcha das Margaridas; movimentos sociais, feminismo, sistemas alimentares, survey research

Working Paper 3 • 2021

The Politics of Food. Mobilization, Consumer behavior and Motives of Participants of the Wir habe es satt! protest 2020


The large-scale protest Wir haben es satt! (We‘re fed up!), organized by the Meine Landwirtschaft (My Agriculture) coalition, has been held for ten years to mark the start of the Green Week agricultural fair in Berlin. The coalition advocates for sustainable agriculture and fair food production and supports farmers throughout Germany. On January 18, 2020, researchers from Freie Universität Berlin, in cooperation with the Institute für Protest- und Bewegungsforschung, conducted a comprehensive survey of participants in the Wir haben es satt! protest. The resulting data shed light on who the protesters are, their concerns and political attitudes, and, last but not least, how they support a different kind of agriculture through their own consumption and lifestyle choices. A large proportion of respondents identified themselves as female and classified themselves politically as left of center. The majority of respondents were representative of an older demographic. As with many protests in Germany, respondents represent a specific socio-economic segment of the population: two-thirds reported having a university degree and most reported a medium to high income. Above all, the protestors surveyed reported consistent political engagement. Many stated they were members of political organizations, experienced demonstrators, and familiar with the socio-political issues related to climate and environmental policy. In fact, less than two percent reported Wir Haben es satt! being their first protest. The respondents are mainly consumers. Very few respondents produce food for commercial purposes. This specific social group can be described as food conscious. They make ethical consumer decisions and have a great interest in expressing their own concerns. Here is to note, that it was not possible to survey the tractor convey attached to the protest by foot.

_ Keywords: Wir haben es satt, social mobilization, soziale Mobilisierung, Protestforschung, Agrar- und Ernährungswende, Ernährungsgerechtigkeit, Deutschland, food movement, protest survey, food justice, Germany

Working Paper 4 • 2022

Efeitos da pandemia na alimentação e na situação da segurança alimentar no Brasil


This working paper analyzes the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on food security and food consumption in Brazil. The data was collected between November and December 2020 through a public opinion survey conducted by telephone with a representative sample of the Brazilian population. This data collection was coordinated by the Research Group Food for Justice: Power, Politics and Food Inequalities in a Bioeconomy, of the Freie Universität Berlin (Germany), jointly with researchers from the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG) and the Universidade de Brasília (UnB). The results show that 59% of the inquired households are in a situation of food insecurity during the pandemic, and that a significant part of the respondents reduced the consumption of food items important for their regular diets; 44% reduced meat and 41% reduced fruit consumption. Thus, the data collected confirms the previous findings by the National Research for Sample of Domicile (Pesquisa Nacional por Amostra de Domicílio) that indicated an increase in food insecurity in Brazil in the years 2017 and 2018 compared to the previous standards from 2013. In conclusion, the socioeconomic instabilities caused by the political and economic crises in recent years have worsened with the Covid-19 pandemic, reinforcing food inequalities for a large portion of the Brazilian population, especially regarding access to healthy food on a regular basis in a sufficient quantity and quality.

_ Keywords: Food security; Brazilian Food Insecurity Scale; Human right to adequate food; Covid-19; Pandemic; Public health; Public policies; Food inequalities

Working Paper 5 • 2021

How to harvest in a pandemic? The German media coverage of migrant workers and harvesting in the context of the Covid-19 crisis in 2020


The COVID-19 pandemic has widely been discussed as a crisis that impacts daily life on a global scale, including food security, global supply chains, consumer behaviour and nutrition. In this crisis, providing food became an even more essential service, agricultural work became an essential activity, and with this, farm workers became so-called essential workers. In Germany, this topic was broadly taken up by local and national newspapers. Due to immense media interest during the first lockdown, the working conditions in the food sector and especially the marginalized status of farmworkers were rendered visible to a broader public. This paper analyses the discourses and how food production in times of the pandemic affects pre-existing workers‘ inequalities and lack of workers’ rights, revealing migrant workers as one of the most vulnerable groups in the German food system. It concludes by demonstrating that the mechanisms of Covid-19, which have been exacerbating existing inequalities in the food sector during the pandemic, are part of a structural socio-economic and socio-political crisis that must be regarded in the context of global capitalism and intersectional inequalities.

_ Keywords: Covid-19; Pandemic; Food Inequalities; Migrant Harvest Workers; Farmworkers; Agriculture; Food Production; Exploitative Working Conditions

Working Paper 6 • 2022

Retrato da Segurança Alimentar e Nutricional em Belo Horizonte: Portrait of food and nutrition security in Belo Horizonte


This publication analyses the food insecurity situation in the city of Belo Horizonte, the capital of the Brazilian state Minas Gerais. Belo Horizonte is publicly recognized for its history of implementing public policies on food security. The data analyzed was collected through a public opinion survey representative of the population of Belo Horizonte, with data collection carried out in areas with high pedestrian flow distributed in 113 neighborhoods from 7 to 27 April 2022. The Research Group Food for Justice: Power, Politics and Food Inequalities in the Bioeconomy, based at the Freie Universität Berlin (Germany), coordinated this data collection in cooperation with researchers from the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), the Forum of Researchers on Food Sovereignty and Food Security of Belo Horizonte and the Undersecretariat of Food Security and Nutrition of the Mayor of Belo Horizonte, Fome Zero Institute (IFZ) and Center for the Study of Metropolis of the Universidade de São Paulo (CEM/USP). The results show that 55.7% of households experienced food insecurity, whether mild (30.1%), moderate (12.4%), or severe (13.2%). The findings also point out that some domiciles were more exposed to food insecurity than others, according to household features. For example, food insecurity was significantly higher in households headed by a single female person (63.3%), headed by someone who was racialized as brown (57.3%) or black (68.4%), or when the household had in its composition children up to 4 years old (66.9%) or children and teenagers from 5 to 17 years old (64.7%). The frequency of food insecurity is also significant in households whose per capita income is equivalent to up to 25% of the minimum wage (R$303.00, three hundred and three reais) (86.9%). It is possible to conclude that food insecurity is reproduced from the interweaving of inequalities, which requires a broad set of actions to overcome such asymmetries. It includes a state action that articulates different levels and spheres of power, with popular participation, and an intersectoral approach, which integrates and ensures rights and policies to the most vulnerable population.

_ Keywords: segurança alimentar desigualdades alimentares políticas públicas Belo Horizonte