March 25, 2024

A new and improved name for our community market program

Upholding our commitment to body liberation and community collaboration 

About a year ago, we announced that we were moving away from use of the term ‘Good Food’ including un-branding the flagship product sold through our social enterprise, the “Good” Food Box.

Today, in line with that commitment, we are introducing a new name for our Good Food Markets program. Here’s why: 

Language matters 

An important part of our work at FoodShare has been to identify the ways our programming needs to align with the values laid out in our statement on Body Liberation and Fat Acceptance, which reads in part:

“…we believe that all bodies are worthy and have the right to exist as they are. There is no wrong way to have a body. As a food justice organization that believes in body liberation and fat acceptance, we do not support fatphobia in any of its forms, including where it intersects with systems of oppression such as white supremacy, settler colonialism, colourism, ableism, ageism, misogyny, queerphobia, classism, etc. Because we know that access to food is shaped by these systems, as well as people’s current material conditions and their lived experiences, we respect people’s choices on the foods they eat. We are challenging the idea that foods are “good” or “bad,” or that people are good or bad for eating certain foods.” Read the full statement here 

At FoodShare, we aim to stay collectively curious about the ways we can use conversations about food not as ends in themselves but as “an access point to deeper understandings of systemic oppressions, anti-fatness being only one, that ultimately decide who has access to food and other basic human rights. We have seen the way anti-fatness does real harm, in particular to communities forced into systems that exclude them from access to food and who are therefore much more likely to be food insecure,” says Asam Ahmad the co-chair of FoodShare’s Fat Acceptance and Body Liberation Taskforce.  

“We felt that changing our program’s name was one small way to address and reduce that harm,” explains Fateha Hossain, facilitator for the markets program and a member of the taskforce. 

Through consultation with staff, community, and marketeers, FoodShare landed on “Community Markets Support” as the program’s new name. The program, through a network of over 50 community-run markets, involves FoodShare collaborating with local leaders to make produce that fits the needs and wants of communities as accessible as possible. 

“That might look like okra and callaloo being big sellers at the Flemo Farmers’ Market while at Mabelle Arts Markets, it could be perilla leaves and other culinary staples. For us, it’s about ensuring markets can offer high-quality, fresh food that includes hard-to-find community favourites, seasonal options and cross-cultural staples like peppers, onions and potatoes,” Hossain says, adding “we’re not here to tell folks what they should be eating; our work is getting quality fresh food into communities as affordably as possible.”

Last year alone FoodShare’s 51 Market Partners distributed over 241,000 pounds of fresh produce to more than 70,000 community members — 10,000 of them seniors —  across the city. Hossain says “labelling the foods sold at these markets as “good” was never a contributing factor to the markets’ success; the moralization of food choices has no place in community food programming, or in our work at FoodShare. All of us deserve food; it’s that simple.”

Produce boxes and the markets program are not the only places FoodShare has adjusted our language. Through consistent reflection on our terminology and programming, we continue to learn, unlearn, and grow. We’ve seen our body liberation work evolve from reference to terms like “body positivity” and “fatphobia*” to “body reflexivity*” and “anti-fatness” as a means of further harm reduction. 

Putting our values into action

Beyond language changes in line with our body liberation and fat acceptance statement, we’ve engaged with experts and community members to better understand and address the ways anti-fatness crops up in our lives and different areas of work.

That’s included hosting conversations like Dismantling Fat Shaming and Weight Stigma and the follow-up Dismantling Fat Shaming and Weight Stigma in Health and Wellness Spaces and ensuring we maintain our stance on body liberation and fat acceptance by following a policy for partnerships and funders. The policy explicitly states that we will not participate in food projects or coalitions that track or reference body size. 

As we continue doing our part with this important work, we’re eager for folks to consider where fat stigma may be showing up in their programming and language, and to join us in learning to do better. We’re not perfect, and we invite you to call us in when we fall short. The Body Liberation and Fat Acceptance Taskforce continues to identify new ways to address anti-fatness and body discrimination in our work.  If you want to continue being part of these conversations and unlearning alongside us at FoodShare sign up for our newsletter and be the first to know when our next Unlearning Weight Stigma workshop, led by Asam Ahmad — Food Justice Educator and co-chair of the Body Liberation and Fat Acceptance Taskforce — will be offered. 

Markets as tools of community building

Through the Community Markets Support program, FoodShare connects with and supports local community leaders to operate independent markets that meet the unique needs of folks in their area. FoodShare provides training, operational support, and subsidized produce to each market, helping them to get started, run smoothly, and become an important hub for their communities. But the success of the program lies with the incredible leadership of the community members who coordinate and operate these markets — those putting in the work, the time, and the energy to make sure folks in their neighbourhood can access fresh food. 

“In addition to aligning with body liberation work at FoodShare, our new name better reflects our team’s relationship with the market coordinators, who perform the majority of the labour that allows markets to happen regularly.” explains Muna Osman, the market program’s manager. 

Osman says that “instead of Good Food Markets our team will now be referring to ourselves as Community Market Support, and to the markets and their teams as Community Market Partners. We want to make sure we aren’t taking ownership of these markets. They aren’t run by Foodshare but by amazing community partners including agencies, seniors’ centres, and  resident leaders. 

Community-led markets are important place-making tools that help bring residents together, often evolving into informal community hubs with engaging activities, information booths, freshly prepared foods, artisanal vendors, and harvest celebrations, explains Osman. 

“Our team’s role is a supportive one. These markets are run by and for community and it’s such a joy to work with the local leaders across Toronto who make them happen,” she says.  

You can learn more about our market support program and find a market near you here. Some markets are seasonal, so keep an eye out for opportunities to join your local market community as the weather warms up!

*We still use the term “fatphobia” in our official statement on body liberation and fat acceptance and it may appear in other areas of our programming, but we have been reconsidering the use of this term in accordance with disability justice frameworks.

*The term “body reflexivity” is relatively new to us and we are learning more about it. Here is an insightful excerpt from Kate Manne, who coined the term: “taking a uniformly positive or neutral view of our own bodies is neither realistic nor desirable. Body reflexivity does not prescribe any particular attitude toward one’s form. It is compatible with finding oneself beautiful, or sexy—or not, as the case may be. Body reflexivity prescribes a radical reevaluation of who we exist for, as bodies: ourselves and no one else. We are not responsible for pleasing others.” Read the full article here