Article

Whiteness and Farmers Markets: Performances, Perpetuations  …  Contestations?

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Abstract

  Academics and activists highlight the potential for alternative agrifood movements to contribute to the evolving coalescence of justice and sustainability. This potential, however, is constrained by what scholars have identified as the prevalent whiteness of such movements. This paper uses ethnographic research at two northern California farmers markets to investigate how whiteness is performed and perpetuated through the movements’ discourses and practices. We found that many managers, vendors and customers hold notions of what farmers and community members should be that both reflect and inform an affluent, liberal habitus of whiteness. Although whiteness pervades these spaces, we have also witnessed individual discourses and acts of solidarity and anti-racism, as well as fledgling institutional efforts to contest white cultural dominance. We conclude by discussing the potential of farmers markets to create an anti-racist politics of food.

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... [10, [103][104][105][106][107][108][109][110][111][112][113][114][115][116][117][118][119][120][121] The community relationships undergirding the formation and provision of local farmers markets create possibilities for innovation and efficiency while advancing social and ecologic ideals. These relationships can lead to new marketing opportunities and greater availability of affordable, healthful foods for citizens [29,31]. ...
... Local artisans and crafts persons may also vend at markets and therefore increase the diversity and scale of foot traffic and strengthen cross-cultural ties to the community. In recent years, scholars have argued that highlighting the social, economic, and environmental relationships that govern agricultural production processes will generate consumer-led movements for building a sustainable and just food system [103]. ...
... However, this potential is often left unrealized due to the political and environmental values held by typical consumers and managers of local markets, who tend to be white, female, affluent, and well-educated, even in areas where white non-Hispanics are the minority [10,103,[112][113][114][115][116][117][118][119]. These trends have been largely undisturbed by the expansion of federal food assistance at farmers markets; rather, shoppers on average are merely less affluent, but still overwhelmingly white, even among those using food assistance. ...
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Farmers markets are regular, recurring gatherings at a common facility or area where farmers and ranchers directly sell a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other locally grown farm products to consumers. Markets rebuild and maintain local and regional food systems, leading to an outsized impact on the food system relative to their share of produce sales. Previous research has demonstrated the multifaceted impacts that farmers markets have on the communities, particularly economically. Recent scholarship in the United States has expanded inquiry into social impacts that markets have on communities, including improving access to fresh food products and increasing awareness of the sustainable agricultural practices adopted by producers, as well developing tools for producers and market stakeholders to measure their impact on both producers and communities. This paper reviews the recent scholarship on farmers markets to identify recent trends and synthesizes the current evidence describing the ways in which farmers markets contribute to the wellbeing of their communities, as well as identifying areas for additional future research.
... Past research indicates that farmers markets are primarily attended by shoppers that meet select demographic criteria (middle-to high-income and predominately white), and the ways in which farmers markets are established, managed, and promoted are structured toward people who match these demographics (Alkon & McCullen, 2011;Briggs, 2010;Colasanti et al., 2010;Rice, 2015). In a study assessing farmers markets as niche shopping experiences, DeLind (1993) concluded that marketing strategies used by farmers markets most often target an elite customer base. ...
... In a study assessing farmers markets as niche shopping experiences, DeLind (1993) concluded that marketing strategies used by farmers markets most often target an elite customer base. Additionally, in an ethnographic study assessing farmers markets in Northern California, Alkon and McCullen (2011) uncovered that many farmers market managers, vendors, and customers held notions of what farmers and community members should look like, which reflected visions of affluent, white people. These perceptions and beliefs, along with market implementation strategies, may translate into an unintended message that people living with low incomes are unwanted and unwelcome at farmers markets. ...
... Feagan et al., 2004;Feagan & Morris, 2009;Garner, 2015;Grace, Grace, Becker, & Lyden, 2007;Hunt, 2007;McGuirt, Ward, Elliott, Bullock, & Jilcott Pitts, 2014;O'Kane, 2016;Payet, Gilles, & Howat, 2005), the authors described 'social interactions' among community members, farmers market vendors, or other patrons as a primary barrier to or facilitator of farmers market usage. Other aspects of SOC discussed in the articles included 'social and community connectedness' (29.2%, n=7) (Alkon & McCullen, 2011;Alonso & O'Neill, 2011;Freedman et al., 2018;Garner, 2015;A. J. Johnson, 2013;O'Kane, 2016;Savoie Roskos, 2017), 'social benefits' (12.5%, n=3) (Baker et al., 2009;Feagan et al., 2004;Velasquez, Eastman, & Masiunas, 2005), 'community pride' (12.5%, n=3) (A. ...
Article
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Farmers markets are valuable for reducing food insecurity and delivering healthy food options to populations living with low incomes. However, farmers markets have developed a reputation for being exclusive shopping spaces devoted to affluent, white shoppers. Sense of community (SOC), or a person’s feelings of belonging at farmers markets, could be an important, under-addressed asset or barrier to farmers markets patronage for people living with low incomes. To document and describe how SOC influences customer engagement with farmers markets, we conducted a systematic review of published, peer-reviewed literature following PRISMA guidelines. Systematic review protocol involved three stages: identifying peer-reviewed articles using key search terms, screening abstracts and articles for inclusion and exclusion, and analyzing articles for SOC at farmers markets. Of the 24 articles included in the systematic review, 10 addressed SOC in farmers markets shoppers living with low incomes, 6 addressed SOC in farmers markets shoppers living with middle to high incomes, and 8 did not indicate the shoppers’ income level. SOC served as both a barrier and facilitator to farmers markets patronage for all income levels. However, farmers markets shoppers who received federal food assistance reported a feeling of exclusion discouraging them from shopping at farmers markets. These negative experiences were more prominent among Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) living with low incomes. SOC appears to be an important factor in determining who shops at farmers markets and the frequency with which they visit. Farmers markets managers should consider how to strengthen SOC to improve engagement with people living with low incomes, and more specifically, BIPOC living with low incomes.
... This leads some scholars to conclude that the presence of primarily White vendors and customers in farmers markets gives the appearance of a racialized White space (Hoover, 2013;Kobayashi & Peake, 2000;Lambert-Pennington & Hicks, 2016;Saldanha, 2006;Slocum, 2007). Alkon and McCullen (2010) argue further that farmers markets attract affluent and liberal customers. Despite these findings, farmers market managers tend not to perceive the markets as racialized spaces (Alkon & McCullen, 2010). ...
... Alkon and McCullen (2010) argue further that farmers markets attract affluent and liberal customers. Despite these findings, farmers market managers tend not to perceive the markets as racialized spaces (Alkon & McCullen, 2010). Other researchers such as Lambert-Pennington and Hicks (2016) also portray farmers markets as White spaces catering to affluent, privileged Whites. ...
... Researchers studying low-income customers in Illinois's Link Match program that provides monetary incentives for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to purchase food at farmers markets found that Black participants reported that they shopped at farmers markets infrequently, that is, less than or equal to once per month (Singleton et at., 2020). The farmers markets also tend to be spaces that are devoid of the low income, low wage Latinx and other people of workers who labor on the farms (Alkon & McCullen, 2010). ...
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In recent decades, the number of farmer’s markets has increased dramatically across the country. Though farmers markets have been described as White spaces, they can play important roles in reducing food insecurity. This is particularly true in Michigan where farmer’s markets were crucial collaborators in pioneering programs such as Double-Up Food Bucks that help low-income residents and people of color gain access to fresh, healthy, locally grown food. This article examines the questions: (1) What are the demographic characteristics of the farmers market managers, vendors, and customers and how do these influence market activities? (2) To what extent do farmers markets participate in programs aimed at reducing food insecurity? (3) To what extent do farmers markets serve low-income residents and people of color? and (4) How has the Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) affected the operations of farmers markets. This article discusses the findings of a 2020 study that examined the extent to which Michigan’s farmer’s markets served low-income customers and people of color and participated in food assistance programs. The study examined 79 farmers markets and found that 87.3% of the farmer’s market managers are White. On average, roughly 79% of the vendors of the markets are White and almost 18% are people of color. Most of the vendors in the markets participate in nutrition assistance programs. Market managers estimate that about 76% of their customers are White and about 23% are people of color. Farmers markets operated by people of color attract higher numbers of customers and vendors of color than those operated White market managers. Almost half of the farmer’s markets started operations later than usual in 2020 because of the pandemic. More than a third of the markets reported that their funding declined during the pandemic. Moreover, the number of vendors declined at two thirds of the markets and the number of customers dipped at more than 40% of the markets. On the other hand, the number of people requesting food assistance during the pandemic increased in more than half of the markets.
... Black farmers' concerns and their lack of participation at the local farmers' market did not surprise others participating in the OFPC who were aware of the fact that some alternative food initiatives, even when they are well intentioned, sometimes fail to acknowledge the complexity of the intersection of race and economic status and its impact when tackling local agri-food problems. For example, studying farmers' markets in California, Alkon and McCullen (2011) found that many managers, vendors, and customers hold and comforted notions of the community that mainly reflected affluent and white people. In addition to the needs of supporting local limited resource Black farmers, members of the OFPC identified that many low-income families had significant limitations and challenges to access to the local farmers' market due to lack of purchasing power, transportation, and time, among other factors. ...
... In addition to the needs of supporting local limited resource Black farmers, members of the OFPC identified that many low-income families had significant limitations and challenges to access to the local farmers' market due to lack of purchasing power, transportation, and time, among other factors. As Alkon and McCullen (2011) highlight, it is important to contest the dominance of whiteness, as well as structural limitations, in food landscapes or spaces. For some OFPC members, it became clear that despite the existence of a local farmers' market, both local Black farmers and low-income communities of color were neither integrated into nor benefited by this alternative food initiative. ...
Article
Oktibbeha County (Mississippi) is among the highest food cost and food insecure counties in the nation. In 2016, a group of scholars from a land-grant university held periodic meetings to address food insecurity, food access, and local food systems development, creating the Oktibbeha Food Policy Council (OFPC). A large body of literature on food justice, intersectionality, food policy councils, and agri-environmental assemblage highlights the importance of these types of collaborative initiatives to facilitate better availability and access to fresh and healthy food among historically marginalized groups. However, little has been studied on how food policy councils can be generated and evolve in historically marginalized rural communities of the South. By analyzing the OFPC, this paper aims to contribute to this gap in the existing literature, exploring what factors led to its creation and development. Results of this study show how food justice and the intersection of race and socioeconomic status with local agri-food problems influenced the assemblage and work of this group, creating new opportunities, for low-income families and limited resource Black farmers. Discussions and conclusions center on the lessons, opportunities, and challenges learned from this experience and critical aspects that may be contemplated by similar initiatives and contexts.
... Despite acknowledging that alternatives might not be able to overcome some attributes generally associated with conventional-capitalist spaces, a more nuanced perspective still sees a progressive possibility in alternative practices (Gibson-Graham 2006;Slocum 2007;Calvário and Kallis 2016). Here, FTPs are an interesting case for analysis because, as education venues, food production sites, and places of connection to the land, they have more diversity among members than more exclusive sites of consumption such as farmers markets (Alkon and McCullen 2011). FTPs are also initiatives heavily institutionalized and funded, in opposition to more grassroots or self-organized spaces (i.e., food coops, CSAs, and regional quality strategies). ...
... The construction of FTPs as a feasible solution to the farming crisis is also facilitated by mechanisms of wealth creation and reproduction, private capital and philanthropism, which the organizations are able to mobilize using narratives around lack of farmers and sustainable farming more broadly. The rise of environmental and social concerns about agriculture and the appreciation of local and small-scale food projects among the milieu of the white educated middle-class (Alkon and McCullen 2011;Anguelovski 2015;Slocum 2007) coalesce around training programs for young sustainable farmers. Funding organizations or individuals compelled by AFNs' vision and with enough capital stimulate their support by donating money to training programs. ...
Article
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This article contributes to debates about the potential of alternative food networks and their contradictions using sustainability-oriented farmer training programs as a case study. I provide an empirical account of the political-economic structures at play in the construction of farmer trainings as a solution to the farming crisis, as well as the possibilities and tensions herein. I argue that that the main rationale framing the farming problem in the public-institutional discourse – namely the apolitical production of a scarcity of farmers – and its discursive usage in popular and institutional circles directs the solution towards the urgent production of more farmers who will farm sustainably and independently of the current structural conditions in which farming is embedded. On the ground, this apolitical ecology is sustained by philanthropism and consumption elitism. In addition, the making of FTPs as an intervention to solve the farming crisis is determined by neoliberal governance structures that promote the devolution of power into the NGO sector and responsibilization of individuals. I finally call for a broader and non-binary vision to alternatives, in which political ecology perspectives bring relevant tools and insights. The case of FTPs throws light into the particular governmentalities, forms of governing at-a-distance, and whiteness associated with sustainable farming and agriculture, and the way society thinks of it. Keywords: farmer training programs, emergent farmers, sustainable agriculture, alternatives, alternative food networks, NGOization of farming, power, privilege, California
... A second characteristic of critical bioregionalism should be a careful analysis of the subjects who are presumed to constitute a specific bioregion. Here, I am building upon previous critiques of the ways in which class and race-based privilege create the D. Meek 'local' as an exclusive site of food privilege in the mold of neoliberalism (Guthman 2008a, b;Alkon and McCullen 2011;Mares and Alkon 2012). I argue that questions of justice and the long-term viability of bioregional projects can be substantially improved, by taking an intersectional approach, analyzing how overlapping axes of identity inflect with particular arguments for localism. ...
... While millets' proponents may construe the grain as a symbolic key, capable of reconnecting urbanites with a lost agrarian identity, the reality is that in both rural and urban Karnataka, ragi mudde and other millet dishes are not seen as palatable, and there remains a strong symbolic attachment to rice, which is desired in part because it is exotic, tied to modernity, and not place. My analysis here offers a critique of how class, race, and caste-based privilege reconfigure the marginal into the miracle in similar ways to the politics of exclusivity in alternative food movements in the Global North (Guthman 2008a;Alkon and McCullen 2011;Mares and Alkon 2012). Third, I've argued that a critical bioregional framework should involve a close analysis of both macro and micro politics at various interconnected scales from the global to the local. ...
Article
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Historically marginalized foods, which occupy the social periphery, and often function as a bulwark in times of hunger, are increasingly being rediscovered and revalued as niche commodities. From açaí to quinoa, the move from marginal to miracle is often tied to larger narratives surrounding sustainable development, resilience to climate change, and traditional foodways. This article analyses the recent move towards millet production and consumption in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. Focusing upon one of the grain’s chief proponents, I explore how narratives surrounding millets are grounded in conceptions of cultural authenticity and bioregionalism. Drawing upon human geographer’s analyses of the turn towards the ‘local’ in food activism, I contribute to the development of critical bioregionalism, an emerging theoretical framework that explores how questions of value, identity, political economy, and histories of land use intersect to structure our understandings of marginal foods and their resurgence.
... Largely, this leads to adoption of some ecological elements, but leaves out the sociopolitical elements (Méndez et al., 2013). In practice, this can look like direct to consumer markets such as community supported agriculture (CSA) shares that are only accessible by middle-class white consumers, investment in high-tech, gene-revolution solutions, and increased price premiums for organically certified food (Alkon & McCullen, 2011;Hamilton, 2014;Kumbamu, 2020;Mutersbaugh, 2002). Scholars have been warning of this cooptation for years (Levidow et al., 2014) and there is a growing call for transdisciplinary collaborations that blend scholarship, activism, practice, and politics to ensure agroecology's transformability (C. ...
... This would allow farmers who do not currently produce enough to operate a stand throughout the whole day, hopefully leading to smaller, BIPOC farmers to get a foothold in the seniority dominated farmers market spaces. This could lead to less white farmer market spaces (Alkon & McCullen, 2011;Slocum, 2008). Though some products may be inferior, reselling notably impacts the culture of a market and the consumers and farmers served. ...
Thesis
There is growing consensus that agroecology is needed to improve the sustainability, equity, economic viability, and climate resilience of farming. Agroecology is burgeoning in scientific literature and has been practiced by peasants to resist corporate and state oppression for over a century, but case studies of agroecological transformation in the U.S. remain sparse and public funding remains limited. In the heart of the Midwest, this case study provides a narrative of alternative agriculture, illustrating the strengths and weaknesses of agroecology in a landscape and country dominated by agribusiness interests. I interviewed female and Black, Indigenous, and Latina/o farm support actors and small-scale farmers of livestock, cut flowers, diversified vegetables, and agroforestry. From these interviews, I assessed which elements of the FAOs 10 principles of agroecology are being supported and practiced in southeast Michigan. All farmers are increasing diversity, resilience, efficiency, and synergies across their farm on their own. This is aided by co-production of knowledge and investments in the solidarity economy. All principles need to be strengthened, but recycling, responsible governance, and culture and food traditions were the least prevalent agroecological principles among these farmers, with the lattermost principle being limited by the diversity of interviewees. Farmers were not invested in internalizing recycling processes, most notably for seeds and compost, and bottom-up responsible governance was deemed aspirational, not practical. Recommendations include securing the knowledge that is being robustly produced and ensuring agroecology is operationalized through active, reciprocal partnerships between farmers, universities, and farm support actors. Other recommendations include developing a set of local policies, propelled forward by policy councils already established, that address equitable access to land and markets for Black, Indigenous, and Latina/o farmers and development of mid-sized markets. Lastly, recycling of inputs and independence from agribusiness should be strengthened through seed commoning.
... For example, this study demonstrates how the demand-side discourse represents the lived experiences of low-wealth rural groups by problematizing poor nutrition as an issue of access. This discourse not only illustrates the needs of low-wealth rural groups but, in recent research, has been positive in shifting responsibility for a poor diet from the consumer's behavior to the issue of food availability [86][87][88]. In comparison, this study also demonstrates how other discourses increase the risk of inequities through the assertion of dominant, aspirational food goals that serve to silence or silence and make hard to hear discourses that represent less influential or powerful groups such as low-wealth rural residents [88,89]. ...
... This discourse not only illustrates the needs of low-wealth rural groups but, in recent research, has been positive in shifting responsibility for a poor diet from the consumer's behavior to the issue of food availability [86][87][88]. In comparison, this study also demonstrates how other discourses increase the risk of inequities through the assertion of dominant, aspirational food goals that serve to silence or silence and make hard to hear discourses that represent less influential or powerful groups such as low-wealth rural residents [88,89]. ...
Article
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In an effort to elucidate an aspirational vision for the food system and explore whether the characteristics of such a system inadvertently set unattainable standards for low-wealth rural communities, we applied discourse analysis to the following qualitative datasets: (1) interviews with food experts and advocates, (2) scholarly and grey literature, (3) industry websites, and (4) email exchanges between food advocates. The analysis revealed eight aspirational food system discourses: production, distribution, and infrastructure; healthy, organic, local food; behavioral health and education; sustainability; finance and investment; hunger relief; demand-side preferences; romanticized, community led transformations. Study findings reveal that of eight discourses, only three encompass the experiences of low-wealth rural residents. This aspirational food system may aggravate the lack of autonomy and powerlessness already experienced by low-wealth rural groups, perpetuate a sense of failure by groups who will be unable to reach the aspirational food vision, silence discourses that might question those that play a role in the inequitable distribution of income while sanctioning discourses that focus on personal or community solutions, and leave out other policy-based solutions that address issues located within the food system. Further research might explore how to draw attention to silenced discourses on the needs and preferences of low-wealth rural populations to ensure that the policies and programs promoted by food system experts mitigate poor diets caused by food insecurity. Further research is needed to inform policies and programs to mitigate food insecurity in low-wealth rural populations.
... Of those eight discourses, three (Finance & Investment, Hunger Relief, and Demand Side Preferences) demonstrated narratives and claims that represent the lived experiences, preferences, and needs of rural, low wealth residents. For example, problematizing poor nutrition as an issue of access (i.e. a Demand Side Preference) in recent research has been positive in shifting the burden off the consumer's behavior [84][85][86]. However, food experts have gone too far in defining good food using their values and preferences while drifting far from the voices, that lift up the preferences and needs of rural, low wealth consumers. ...
... In many cases, our analysis demonstrated that the dominant discourses tap into middle class values, views, and aspirations of food advocates and experts to the exclusion of other narratives including income inequality, poverty, and the lived experiences and daily struggles of rural, low wealth groups.. This vision seems at odds with the preferences and needs of rural, low wealth groups [86,87]. In the case of these silent narratives there seemed to be room for claims to be made that would: (1) give voice to rural, low wealth preferences, needs, and interests not commonly heard; and (2) portray the structural economic and social causes of food insecurity for these rural groups. ...
Preprint
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We seek to elucidate an aspirational vision for the food system and explore whether the characteristics of such a system inadvertently set unattainable standards for rural, low wealth communities. We apply discourse analysis to the following qualitative datasets: (1) interviews with food experts and advocates, (2) scholarly and grey literature, (3) industry websites, and (4) email exchanges between food advocates. The analysis revealed eight aspirational food system discourses: Production, Distribution, and Infrastructure; Healthy, Organic, Local Food; Behavioral Health and Education; Sustainability; Finance and Investment; Huger Relief; Demand Side Preferences; Romanticized, Community Led Transformations. Study findings reveal that of eight discourses only three encompass the experiences of rural, low wealth residents. This aspirational food system may result in the disempowerment of the needs of rural, low wealth groups; a perpetuation of the failure of groups who will be unable to reach the aspirational food vision; silencing of discourses that might question those that play a role in the inequitable distribution of income while sanctioning discourses that focus on personal or community solutions; and the absence of other policy-based solutions that address issues located within the food system. Further research is needed to inform policies and programs to mitigate food insecurity in rural, low wealth populations.
... Attempts to translate the concept to ecological aspects of LFSI have been less successful, however, and the relationship between ongoing social relations in LFSI and environmental practices on farms remains less understood. And with critical scholarship finding that LFSI social relations do not necessarily lead to more sustainable social and economic outcomes (Hinrichs, 2003;Stephenson et al., 2008;Alkon and McCullen, 2011), it is imperative that assumptions regarding ecological relations not be taken for granted. ...
Article
Food system localization is often advocated by academics, activists, and policy makers as a means of effectively addressing the negative social and ecological consequences of current systems of food production. Activists and academics alike point to the range of different social relations facilitated by proximity and face-to-face interactions that are defining features of some local food system initiatives (LFSI). The concept of social embeddedness, which posits that economic activity is entangled with ongoing social relations, is frequently used to interpret the social relations of LFSI and to frame overarching arguments. Social embeddedness has been used to describe the alterity of LFSI, but much of this work has yet to assess how embedded social relations affect market functioning or sustainability in these systems—particularly for environmental aspects of sustainability. In this article we utilize the lens social embeddedness to assess what we call social-ecological embeddedness (SEE), which considers how, and to what extent, environmental practices on LFSI farms are enmeshed with the ongoing social relations of the local food system initiative. After developing the SEE approach, we use it to examine how social relations in a farmers’ market network in New York City, USA, influence environmental practices on participating farms, and the implications of social-ecological embeddedness for building more sustainable food systems.
... Seyfang (2007) used qualitative data to demonstrate that consumers choose to shop at farmers' markets because they see these venues as facilitating a reduction in the environmental impact of their food consumption. Other research finds linkages between an ethical consumption orientation and shopping at farmers' markets (Alkon and McCullen 2011;Paddock 2016). Finally, Cairns and Johnston's (2015) research on Toronto consumers found that ethical food shopping operates as a form of distinction for economically privileged consumers who draw a taste boundary distinguishing high cultural capital food stores from discount grocery stores. ...
Article
Under what conditions is ethical consumption a high-status practice? Using unique food consumption survey data on aesthetic and ethical preferences, we investigate how these orientations to food are related. Existing research on high-status food consumption points to the "foodie," who defines good taste through aesthetic standards. And emergent evidence suggests the "ethical consumer," whose consumption is driven by moral principles, may also be a high-status food identity. However, ethical consumption can be practiced in inexpensive and subcultural ways that do not conform to dominant status hierarchies (e.g., freeganism). In order to understand the complex cultural terrain of high-status consumption, we investigate how socioeconomic status (SES) is related to foodie and ethical consumer preferences and practices. Using a k-means cluster analysis of intercept survey data from food shoppers in Toronto, we identify four distinct clusters representing foodies, ethical consumers, ethical foodies, and those whose preferences involve neither aesthetic nor ethical ideals. Through multinomial logistic regression, we find that while high-status consumers can be foodies or ethical consumers, the highest status consumers prioritize ethical and foodie preferences. Respondents' reported shopping locations corroborate the results of the regression analyses. The taste preferences of the highest status consumers are associated with culinary sophistication and moral considerations, suggesting that high cultural capital tastes incorporate aesthetic and ethical dimensions. These results contribute to literature examining how food consumption repertoires can produce and reinforce classed boundaries and to literature on tastes that has focused on aesthetics to the neglect of ethical ideals.
... In this case study, farmers' markets participants and home gardeners were the most racially and economically diverse; though we acknowledge that our purposive sampling strategy of selecting three farmers' markets in lowincome neighborhoods to include in the study may have skewed the results in this direction. The literature also demonstrates the ways in which urban agriculture and alternative food have been coded as white cultural spaces (e.g., Slocum, 2007;Guthman, 2008;Alkon and McCullen, 2011). In addition, to understanding how various functions of localized urban food systems differ between type, it is important to understand how they differ in which participants are engaged and which benefit, taking into consideration race and ethnicity, income, culture, and language. ...
Article
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Localized urban food systems are gaining attention from policy makers, planners, and advocates for benefits that go well beyond food production and consumption. Recognizing that agriculture, and food systems more broadly, provide multiple, integrated services, this study measures the social, educational, civic, and nutritional impacts of four common types of local food system activity in an urban setting. Specifically, we examine the outcomes of two common types of urban agricultural production (home gardens and community gardens) and two common types of direct markets (farmers' markets and Community Supported Agriculture programs or CSAs) through a survey of 424 gardeners and 450 direct market shoppers in California's San Francisco Bay Area. Our comparative analysis focuses on four commonly discussed functions of agricultural production and direct marketing in urban areas: access to high-quality, fresh produce; food and agriculture education; social connections; and civic engagement. While impacts on nutrition were consistently high, some of the largest differences between types of local food system activity were in social interaction and civic engagement. For example, gardeners had a mean score of 3.77 on the social interaction scale compared to direct market participants, who had a mean score of 3.03. These findings confirm that different types of local production and direct marketing have distinct impacts on participants. Generally, gardens, which involve more sustained engagement with other people and the natural world, were sites of greater learning, connection, and civic participation than either type of direct marketing. Read the full article here: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fsufs.2020.534219
... These local policy approaches are not without shortfalls. While urban agriculture movements, small farms, and Community Support Agriculture (CAS) are local initiatives billed as sustainable community solutions to hunger, research shows that these approaches are highly associated with both whiteness and economic privilege, producing food that is generally cost prohibitive for lower income individuals (Alkon & McCullen, 2011;Farmer, Chancellor, Robinson, West, & Weddell, 2014;Reynolds, 2015). The above approaches are also largely concerned with food security in urban environments, which only accounts for a portion of the population struggling with food insecurity in the US and around the world. ...
Chapter
This chapter details the evolution of research and practices, in community health informatics systems, with implementation for sustainable community health. Community health informatics utilizes internet applications, and associated health information delivery systems to improve community health information access. It also accomplishes the reduction of community health disparities, inequity, and social injustice. In this regard, this chapter provides a brief overview of the history around community health informatics. Followed by a detailed discussion of the current and potential implementation of health informatics systems for sustainable community health, grounded in community action theories. Community health informatics is an emerging interdisciplinary science. This chapter considers the role of disciplines related to community health informatics practices, for sustainable community health. In this regard, this chapter provides a brief overview of the history around community health informatics, followed by a detailed discussion of the current and potential implementation of health informatics systems for sustainable community health.
... In contemporary urban cities, one of the core facets of building resilient and 'hunger-proof' communities is achieving food security and managing sustainable food systems (Barthel & Isendahl, 2013;Koc, MacRae, Mougeot, & Welsh, 1999;Morgan & Sonnino, 2010). In light of rapid urbanisation and adaptation of neoliberal market strategies, some scholars have already flagged differential opportunities and barriers that exist in the production, distribution, and consumption of food (Alkon & McCullen, 2011;Slocum, 2007). The complex issue of food inclusivity -who has access to food, how, and when -needs to be addressed in more detail. ...
Article
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This paper focuses on food as a case study to understand issues of inclusivity in cities. More specifically, we focus on the process of food production, distribution, consumption, and sharing in the city of Leuven. Most urban spaces encompass material and discursive practices that influence differing rights and abilities to engage in the urban food chain. In this study, we initially used constellation mapping to identify relevant actors and conducted a follow-up field study to generate an in-depth understanding of the mechanisms and processes of inclusion and exclusion linked to the urban food chain in the city of Leuven. We collected data from multiple stakeholders using interviews and field obser vations. Iterative analysis was conducted using a within and cross-case approach. Based on our findings, we propose three solutions to stimulate inclusivity through the concept of food: closing the knowledge gap, removing social stigma from the distribution process and optimising the supply chain. These are influenced by the idea that we enter the food chain not only as consumers and distributors, but also as social beings invited into the food chain and working towards inclusivity through our own personal acts of solidarity.
... These authors have noted that such approaches to encourage de-commodification through 'ethical consumerism' have merely tried to convince concerned consumers that they can buy a commodity and somehow the problems linked with capitalism will diminish. The same reasoning suggests that simply providing more accurate website information allows companies and consumers to ignore the more structurally rooted problems that capitalist relations create in agrarian settings and global commodity chains (see Fridell, 2007;Alkon and McCullen, 2011). ...
... On the other hand, numerous authors have identified the exclusionary nature of many urban markets. These issues have been raised by Slocum (2007; see also Guthman, 2008;Alkon & McCullen, 2011) in relation to the "whiteness" of farmers' markets and food co-ops in Minneapolis-St Paul; by Coles and Crang (2011) in London's Borough Market; and by Zukin (2004) in relation to New York City's Union Square market. Similar questions have been raised about the social exclusivity of farmers' markets in Prague (Spilková et al., 2013) and the racialised displacement of food vendors in Montpellier (Tchoukaleyska, 2016). ...
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Focusing on the recent transformation of urban food markets in the UK, this paper applies a practice theory perspective to analyse the social practices involved in the making and doing of urban food markets. Based on fieldwork in Barnsley and Sheffield, we identify three sets of interrelated practices that are involved in the transformation of urban markets: economic diversification, traditionalization, and technological innovation. We describe these practices as socio‐material in the sense that they involve the practices of buying and selling, and other forms of social interaction, combined with the foodstuffs, infrastructure and other material things that together constitute the contemporary marketplace. The evidence presented in this paper challenges prevalent dichotomised ways of thinking about market transformation in terms of inclusion and exclusion or modernity and tradition.
... In the case of farmers markets, many food activists are unconscious of the source of their power, their middle-class status and white skin, and will deny that they or their markets have any bias. However, critical scholars have examined the ways these white-privilege assets remain unexamined and impede activist goals (Alkon and McCullen 2011;Slocum 2007Slocum , 2008Guthman 2008aGuthman , 2008bLambert-Pennington and Hicks 2016;Kobayashi and Peake 2000). The ambiance at most farmers markets is one of affluence and superior knowledge: local food activists know the problems of the mainstream food system and believe that they need to educate others so they will take advantage of the services their farmers markets provide (Guthman 2008a(Guthman , 2008b. ...
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Farmers markets can offer solutions to several of the biggest problems besetting the US food system: fair prices to farmers; healthy, fresh food for consumers; direct contacts between consumers and farmers; food for food deserts; support for local economies. Awareness of these benefits led us to study the farmers markets of Greater Cincinnati. Markets grew rapidly in the early 1980s, peaked in 2012, and declined 17% by 2018. Sixty-one percent of the markets that started since 1970 have closed. Two types of markets exist: farmer-focused markets, with farmer vendors, and consumer-focused markets, with farmers and specialist vendors. Detailed information about market management shows that managers, the majority of whom are volunteers or underpaid, have insufficient resources to be sustainable. Market decline is often blamed on an oversupply of markets, but other factors are involved: the inability of market personnel and customers to cross class and racial boundaries; the encroachment of online retailers; a scarcity of farmers; market manager failures. Individual markets need to form coalitions and gain sufficient resources from governments or private funders to employ specialists who can assist managers, expand the consumer base, and design promotion campaigns that effectively promote farmers markets in the changing retail food landscape.
... For example, a study of community gardens in New Jersey demonstrates the significance of unpaid surplus labor in sustaining the gardens (Drake 2019). In a related vein, critical scholarship on alternative food movements points to the often unacknowledged racialization of farmers' markets and CSAs (Alkon 2012;Alkon and McCullen 2011;Hinrichs 2003;Slocum 2007) that tend to perpetuate color blind narratives of the movement (Guthman 2008). Similarly, contemporary narratives of community and sustainability in alternative agriculture are often built around a nostalgia for the family farm without full acknowledgment of the racialization of labor (Ingram, Ingram, and Lejano 2014). ...
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A resurgence of agrarianism has motivated new farmers to enter farming, not for profit, but for lifestyle and socio‐ecological values which are frequently associated with diverse economies. Proponents of diverse economies argue for an ontological reframing that accounts for non‐capitalist forms of economic exchange. However, these perspectives have not fully addressed the conditions—often structured by race and class—that facilitate participation in diverse economies. This paper is based on mixed‐methods research on the life cycle of new farmers in Hawai‘i that include participants of farmer training programs. We investigate what drives new farmers into farming, by what mechanisms they are able (or not) to establish a farm, and what limits the duration of their participation. Our analysis reveals three contradictions of diverse economies in agriculture: (1) the inadvertent undervaluation of farmwork that undermines broader efforts to improve the welfare of farm labor; (2) the tension between the value of scaling up and the vulnerability of cooptation; and (3) the ways in which the duration of new farmers' engagement is structured by their ability to mobilize unpaid labor and external resources. These contradictions challenge long‐term and inclusive participation in diverse economies in ways that constrain their emancipatory potential.
... Indeed, in the case of food justice and UA organizing, many scholars have drawn attention to the role of race. Some have noted that the pervasive whiteness of many organizations contributes to reinforcing racialized exclusion through the creation and defense of white spaces (Slocum 2007;Alkon and McCullen 2009;Ramirez 2015). Particularly in the context of UA development, the presence of white organizers might racialize spaces in particular ways, reinforcing notions of struggling black neighborhoods needing developers and the state to revitalize them and thus "normalize processes of black dispossession" (Ramirez 2015, 762; see also McKittrick 2011). ...
... They are characterized as carrying out innovative farming mechanisms, like the planting of perennials, intercropping, and animal crop rotations. Importantly, the farmers profiled in these popular narratives are often young, white, and well resourced (Alkon and McCullen 2011). ...
Article
Aging farmer demographics and declining agricultural trends provoke policy makers, farmer advocacy groups, and food system scholars to ask, “Who will do the work of farming in the future?” One response to this concern has been the rise of a “beginning farmer” narrative, where the goal of creating new farmers emerges as a key aspirational food systems reform mechanism. In this vision, young and beginning farmers will seize the transitioning lands from retiring farmers and bring with them an alternative system that is ecologically minded, open to new innovations, and socially oriented. Given the flurry of governmental, nonprofit, and private sector activity spurred by this vision, this article asks, what are the ideological drivers of the beginning farmer construct, and what are the consequences for the goals associated with a just food system transition? Invoking the concept of mythology, this article examines the character of the American beginning farmer narrative. The narrative is shown to appeal to a particular land use vision, one based on ideals of individual land ownership, single proprietor farming, neoliberal logics of change, and whiteness. In a sense, the beginning farmer movement embraces a yeoman mythology, a powerful force underwriting the American dream. The consequence of this embrace has problematic outcomes for the transformative potential of a politically engaged beginning farmer constituency. Embracing alternative imaginaries and mythologies may be a first step in forging a new farmer movement that provides equity across socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
... 3 Elena, one of the founders, has emphatically stated that having the ability to eat chemical-free, nutrient dense food is one mechanism by which people can reduce their exposure to toxins (personal communication). 4 Although prior research has demonstrated that an emphasis on the consumption of organic food can problematically reflect an exclusionary White, middle-class ethos embedded in the neoliberal values of individuality, choice, and consumption (e.g., Alkon & McCullen, 2011;Guthman, 2008;Pahk, 2021), the PCFA's framing is distinct from this literature (e.g., Lloro & González, in progress). Not only do activists harshly critique neoliberal capitalism, but the organization's goals explicitly recognize how food access, health, and wellbeing are intersectionally shaped by ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexuality, taking concrete actions to address systemic oppressions and unsustainable farming practices while also working to uplift culturally specific foods and traditions (Pomona Community Farmer Alliance, 2019). ...
Article
The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare global structural inequalities, including those involving food. Although feminist frameworks have been applied to the study of food, we have much to learn about activism and environmental education (EE). In this article, I thus develop a nascent intersectional feminist food studies praxis for the field to animate important conversations about “new” ways of thinking and doing EE research for a post-pandemic future. To begin, I describe the places where I work in eastern Los Angeles County, California. Then, I provide a brief overview of intersectionality, highlighting key components informing my work. Drawing on two and a half years of feminist participatory research focused on the activist-scholar nexus, I elucidate an intersectional feminist food studies praxis that elevates the politics of knowledge, is attuned to the affective domain, and supports transformation. To conclude, I specifically highlight how these insights can influence EE research and practice.
... Yet Connelly puts it this way: "[t]he key challenge facing local food initiatives is how to scale up to the point of transforming (rather than merely "informing") the much larger conventional food system" (2010: 1, emphasis ours; also Mount 2012: 108). Food scholars and activists alike examine how local food projects can be used to challenge an unsustainable industrial, unjust economic system (e.g., Alkon and Grace McCullen, 2011;McClintock 2014). The benefits of small-scale projects can transcend geographic locales; a growing number of equity-seeking communities have leveraged alternative food projects to reclaim working-class power, Indigenous sovereignty over land and water, and self-determination (e.g. ...
Article
Because of concerns about human health, the environment, and animal welfare, meat is a highly contentious food. Accordingly, a broad range of alternative, small-scale practices for raising livestock and producing non-industrial meat are in the spotlight. While scholars have examined consumer perspectives on “ethical” meat, less is known about producers' perceptions of how small-scale meat production fits into the broader food system, and how their perceptions relate to broader sustainability debates surrounding meat. We explore producer perspectives on small-scale “ethical” meat production and its role in a sustainable food system. We do so through interviews and site visits with 74 people working within alternative meat production in four Canadian provinces, a sample that includes farmers, ranchers, butchers, and meat-focussed chefs. We find that, in the face of practical challenges linked to small-scale production, producers are passionately committed to the project of small-scale animal rearing that they regard as humane and sustainable. Despite these similarities, producers have radically different ideas about the purpose and potential of ethical meat. We observed major differences among producers' cultural imagination of meat, exemplifying varied ideas for fitting meat into a sustainable food system. Our findings underscore the importance of charting not only producers’ practices, but also their cultural orientations.
... Even giving away healthy food does not mean that people will eat it, as we commonly see with the tossing of fruits and vegetables in school lunchrooms around the country (Upton, Upton, and Taylor 2012). Connected to this, the attempt to create "alternative food movements" to reach poor and minority consumers has been beset by the class and cultural distance between their organizers and the population (Alkon and McCullen 2011;Kato 2013;Larchet 2014). ...
... Racism is embedded within the roots of the organic farming sector and can be traced back to Nazi Germany and the nationalistic British Soil Association, whose teachings were adopted by organic farmers in the 1970s by the political leanings of the New Left with the rise in back-to-the-land and counter-culture social activism as a way to promote social equality (Guthman, 2008;. Several scholars have drawn attention to how revisionist interpretations of organic agriculture in mainstream U.S. culture worked not only to mask the historical contributions and challenges of people of color in food production but also re-centered the smallscale White farmer as the American agricultural icon and face of organic farming (Allen, 2004;Alkon and McCullen, 2010). In Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm's Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land, Penniman (2018) described how modern forms of polyculture (i.e., the process of growing plants of different species as a way to increase plant biodiversity and make crops more resilient to climate variability and extreme weather conditions-a staple in modern organic farming) can be traced back several 100 years to indigenous farmers from countries in the West African region such as Ghana and Nigeria, yet often West Africans were not acknowledged for their historical contributions to the movement. ...
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Historically, African-American farmers faced a long and challenging struggle to own land and operate independently. In recent years, several factors, including unfair policy legislation, institutionalized racism, the mechanization of agriculture, and increases in agricultural technology have exacerbated land loss and decreases in farm ownership. Currently, African-American farmers are vastly underrepresented, comprising just 2% of the nation's farmers, 0.5% of farmland and 0.2% of total agricultural sales. As a site for inquiry, this topic has been examined across many academic sub-disciplines, however, the literature has not yet explored how the erasure of the African-American farmer influences the conversation about broader diet-related health disparities in the U.S. This overlooked perspective represents a novel approach to rethinking public health interventions and may improve methods for communicating messages about healthy eating to the African American community. In this essay, we extend (Dutta, 2008) the Culture-Centered Approach (CCA) to foreground the lived experiences and perspectives of a small cohort of African-American farmers (n = 12) living in the U.S. Mid-South as an entry point to address this underexamined area of research and inform future methodological directions of study. Two key themes emerged from the thematic analysis: (1) erasure of the African-American farming tradition and land loss; and (2) solutions to change. Drawing on the understanding that systematic land loss in the African-American community has contributed to wealth disparities between African-Americans and Whites, we argue that the erasure of the African-American farming tradition within mainstream discourses has created communication inequities that disenfranchise the African-American community and may contribute to broader health inequities in food system. Our findings may offer important insights into the methodological development of more effective health campaigns within these communities.
... As vendors align with the values and tastes of consumers, farmers markets are often dominated by specialized and costly niche products that further diversify the consumption of a relatively healthy and wealthy target group, thus excluding members from lower income brackets [54,77]. When farmers markets cater predominantly to privilege and conspicuous consumption, they become sites of social exclusion because agro-leisure rarely aligns with the tastes and incomes of less affluent groups [54,75,78,79]. The attractiveness of established agro-leisure-based farmers markets also spurs urban gentrification by increasing property values in surrounding areas, thus often displacing low-income households [77,80,81]. ...
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Community development tends to focus on large-scale, government-funded transformations or on small-scale, grassroot initiatives. In the US, the financial resources, available infrastructure, and broad-based civic support to implement large-scale community transformations are frequently lacking. In contrast, niche interventions, while often locally successful, tend to be unscalable. Accordingly, many community development programs either do not go beyond an ideational stage, or they are unscalable or unsustainable in the long run. In this qualitative case study, we analyze the Eastern Market in Detroit, Michigan, a local institution that contributes considerably and in several ways to the sustainability of multiple communities. Using Content Configuration Analysis (CCA), we conduct a bottom-up exploratory analysis of fieldwork notes, nonparticipant observations, as well as audio, visual, and written materials including policy and strategy documents from the City of Detroit, Wayne County, and the State of Michigan, academic publications, strategy and annual reports, websites, blogs, vlogs, social media outlets, newspapers, podcasts, and interviews along two lines of inquiry: first, to examine how the market contributes to sustainable community development and, second, to explore the systemic underpinnings that facilitate such development. Specifically, we focus on the Eastern Market to identify system-relevant actors, interests, relations, interventions, and outcomes that illustrate an institution which operates well beyond the ideational confines of a conventional farmers market. In the process of exploring the adaptive nature of the Eastern Market within its financial and infrastructural constraints, we also exemplify with this case that a well-established institution, a farmers market, can reinvent itself to serve multiple needs of larger, heterogeneous communities, and that the successful adaptations associated with this reinvention reimagine the community in which it is embedded.
... These authors have noted that such approaches to encourage de-commodification through 'ethical consumerism' have merely tried to convince concerned consumers that they can buy a commodity and somehow the problems linked with capitalism will diminish. The same reasoning suggests that simply providing more accurate website information allows companies and consumers to ignore the more structurally rooted problems that capitalist relations create in agrarian settings and global commodity chains (see Fridell, 2007;Alkon and McCullen, 2011). ...
... However, AFNs have, in turn, been criticized due to their predominance towards exclusivity, racism and elitism, in addition to confusing conflation of AFN types and characteristics, and the continued impact that the capitalist market has on their goals (Alkon and McCullen 2011;Edwards 2016;Goodman et al. 2011;Guthman 2008;Harris 2009;Slocum 2007;Tregear 2011). This imbalance between desire, need and access is expressed by Hodgins and Fraser (2018) who describe the food system as being 'multi-tiered' consisting of 'the haves', 'the have-nots' and the 'have-lots', acknowledging how the middle-class can participate in AFNs by being able to "vote with their fork" (Hodgins and Fraser 2018, p. 150). ...
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Stigma is often encountered by recipients who receive food donations from charities, while the consumption of wasted food, also traditionally considered to be a stigmatized practice, has recently become part of a popular food rescue movement that seeks to reduce environmental impacts. These two stigmas—charitable donation and the consumption of waste—are brought together at the Open Table, a community group in Melbourne, Australia, that serves community meals cooked from surplus food. This paper examines how Open Table de-stigmatizes food donations through food waste discourse to enable greater social inclusion. I draw on the experiences of donors, cooks, volunteers and eaters gathered from diverse Open Table sites. Taking a ‘follow-the-thing’ approach, I analyze how food ‘waste’ becomes re-valued by embracing goals of environmental justice enacted through local processes of care and conviviality. Relying on networks of volunteers and not-for-profit agencies, Open Table provides a simple, effective and adaptable model for possible replication for overcoming drawbacks of traditional charity practices. Critically though, as hunger in society continues to grow, this approach is increasingly threatened by the need to ‘single out’ disadvantaged recipients to justify continued supply. This paper contributes to food poverty, waste, and Alternative Food Network literature in two important ways: first, by analyzing the outcomes of community food redistribution approaches with regards to stigma and inclusion; and secondly, by arguing that such holistic approaches need to be acknowledged, valued and supported to shift current discourses and practice.
Article
Objective To identify college students’ perceptions of local food on the basis of a multi-theory model. Design Semistructured individual interviews were conducted. The Theory of Planned Behavior and Health Belief Model extended with self-congruity were used as a framework. Setting A university in the southeast region of the US. Participants A total of 30 college students, including in-state, out-of-state, and international. Main Outcome Measures Behavioral beliefs, normative beliefs, control beliefs, perceived threats, self-congruity, cues to action, and definitions regarding local food. Analysis Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. A hybrid inductive and deductive content analysis was used to analyze transcriptions. Results Health benefits, supporting local, less processing, freshness, and trustworthiness were identified as advantages of consuming local food. Perceived disadvantages included limited variety and higher prices. Major themes related to normative beliefs included approval of family members and friends. Perceived barriers included lack of information, lack of availability, and inconvenience. Perceived facilitators included availability and clear advertisement. Poor dietary quality was a major threat. Local food consumers were identified as health conscious. Potentially effective cues to action were also identified. Emotion emerged as a new theme. Conclusions and Implications The identified themes could be further explored for promotion of local food consumption among this population.
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I will do whatever it takes to keep it open. —Farmers Market Manager in San Luis Obispo County on efforts to keep the markets open during the pandemic In San Luis Obispo (SLO) County, California, the SLO Food System Coalition hosts an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) at Farmers’ Markets Workgroup. Workgroup partners include representa­tives from food banks, public health departments, social services, University of California (UC) Cooper­ative Extension (UCCE), and local farmers market associations. The workgroup aims to increase the use of CalFresh (formerly known as food stamps, known nationally as SNAP) at famers markets in SLO County to foster (1) equitable access to healthy foods, and (2) support for local farmers. . . .
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This document, the first research Deliverable (D2.1) of the SMARTDEST project, presents the conceptual, methodological and empirical framework of the research. Its structure is typical of a wide literature review, ordering and connecting the different approaches and results of many strands of research into cities and space, tourism and other forms of mobility, and social exclusion that are esteemed relevant for this project, under the overarching epistemological entry point of the mobilities paradigm. However, it also proposes how from these starting points the project moves forward to attain its research objectives, identifying research gaps in the existing literature and proposing new research questions (RQs) and empirical developments.
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Respatialization of migrations in rural areas, following multiple crises, by virtue of new mobility patterns, networks and connections, have matched processes of rural restructuring and the ongoing definition of a new rurality. Alternative agri-food projects addressing the (migrant) labour issue in Southern Italy have established new agri-food market spaces based on short supply chains, new social relations, new ways of participating in and organizing agri-food systems, and have constructed this new rurality according to subjective and collective paths and practices.
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Research indicates that low-income consumers are less likely to shop at farmers’ markets and that these individuals are often those with the lowest intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. This project aimed to improve familiarity with farmers’ markets among low-income consumers through guided tours of farmers’ markets, implemented as part of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). EFNEP Program Assistants (PAs) in five counties in North Carolina received training and partnered with a local Cooperative Extension agent to deliver a farmers’ market tour at the mid-point of a nine-lesson series on healthy eating. Forty-eight participants completed the series, completing a pre-and post-class series behavior change assessment and dietary recall. At entry, 54% of participants said they ate food that came from a local farm, compared to 94% at exit. Interviews with all PAs found that participants: plan to visit the farmers’ market again in the future, tried new recipes with foods purchased at the market, and learned how to talk with and ask questions of farmers’ market vendors. We argue that farmers’ market tours are a promising strategy for increasing familiarity with local foods, when carried out as part of a series of nutrition education classes.
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As sustainable agriculture turns in fashion, it becomes a contested territory between social movements and institutionality. In this article I analyze how three popular imaginaries around farming are entangled in the institutionalization of farming training programs, as spaces where sustainable agriculture is taught and enacted. These imaginaries relate to the lack of farmers, the responsibilization of farming heroes, and the social value of sustainable agriculture. Using a case study approach, I show how initiatives are molded by imaginaries that (re)construct and (re)define them as they get inserted into formal structures of funding, regulation, and dissemination. The inherited imaginaries are adopted—and adapted—by organizations both unconsciously and strategically. I also untangle how a politics of imaginaries unfolds as the popular social imaginaries about farming are contested and negotiated on the ground by staff members and apprentices.
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Immigrants—especially those from farmworker or campesino backgrounds—have gained attention as promising recruits for a new generation of sustainable farmers. Nonprofits promoting this aspirational vision of food justice link sustainability to empowered workers and communities of color, and to the preservation or revival of (agri)cultural traditions. I present findings from ongoing research showing that Oregon nonprofit food sovereignty initiatives training Mexican immigrant farmers have achieved successes as cultural, community building, and educational programs, but have struggled to produce viable farm businesses. I contrast these farmers with the less ecologically oriented and less self‐consciously “cultural” immigrant farmers who work without organizational support in the same region, and who find an aspirational agrarian good life in more conventional agricultural practices. I argue that activist and academic formulations of food sovereignty linking peasant heritage, sustainability, labor rights, and immigration justice may lead scholars to overstate immigrant farmers' actual propensity for "alternative" agriculture and ignore those immigrant farmers who fail to conform to this ideal.
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Diet and nutrition are central to the wellbeing of communities, influencing the energy community members have to participate in the life of the community and the health outcomes of its members. Yet, community-level approaches to promoting nutritional health are inconsistent and vary across the world. This chapter proposes sustainable approaches to promote the nutritional health of communities based on the Social-Ecological Models and Policy Diffusion Models. We aim to describe nutrition and diet-related disparities in both the US and globally, discuss approaches that have been used to address these disparities, and finally, to outline potential strategies for building communities with sustainable food and nutrition plans that minimize disparities. We consider nutrition and diet-related disparities, hunger, and food insecurity in the US and across the world. We describe approaches that have been tried so far, including traditional interventions such as food distribution programs and education programs, as well as more recent approaches such as microloans and urban forests. We also discuss how cultural and political influences may influence diet-related disparity, such as how culturally preferred foods may affect efforts to improve diet quality and how political views of poverty may influence the types of policies considered acceptable to improve food access. Finally, we discuss areas that require continued research to improve communities’ nutritional health, such as improved mapping of nutrition problems and their barriers, how to implement more sustainable diets and food systems while respecting cultural foodways, and how to influence attitudes toward chronic poverty to expand the types of interventions available to policymakers.
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In reflecting on the last two decades of publications by Australian rural studies scholars in three major disciplinary journals, this article argues that the field of Australian rural sociology has failed to address racial inequality and class difference. While we note a burgeoning of feminist rural research challenging the historical emphasis on the white male farmer, this too has tended to occlude class and race, as is demonstrated in our analysis of the national ‘Invisible Farmer’ project. Accordingly, we point to a need to bring anti-racist work and scholarship to bear on our subdiscipline. In particular, we call for Australian rural studies scholars to engage with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander scholarship to interrogate whiteness as a category of difference and to open a discussion about relinquishing settler power, including in the academy. We emphasise the need for actions to understand and challenge the continuing dominance and privilege of whiteness and the fundamentally classed colonial project in Australian rural studies.
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“Civic agriculture,” a term first coined by rural sociologist Thomas Lyson, refers to forms of agriculture that occur on a local level, from production to consumption, and are linked to a community’s social and economic development. Sixteen years since its original articulation, the term “civic agriculture” has taken on greater significance in research, political activism, and community organizing. Grown from the roots of civic community theory, civic agriculture functions as a new branch of civic community theory that is ripe for theorization. In revisiting the foundations of the term, this review paper seeks to consolidate current and future research in the field of civic agriculture with a focus on its link to social welfare. This begins by reviewing the foundations of civic community theory and discussing how they influence research related to civic agriculture. As we report in this paper, there remain considerable gaps in understanding of how civic agriculture can be fomented by—or is related to—indicators such as demographics, concentration of power, community cohesion, and civic engagement. Consequently, the assumed links between local food systems and social welfare must continue to be studied to determine correlation and causality. This understanding is particularly important during this time of global pandemic, when the flaws and inequities of global supply chains are exposed and where, in many cases, civic agriculture met the increasing interest in local food. The COVID-19 pandemic has amply demonstrated the fragility and instability of global food supply chains, making the need for local food systems more significant and more relevant to communities across the world.
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Food is fundamental to French identity. So too is the denial of structural racism and racial identity. Both tenets are central to the nation's self-definition, making them all the more important to think about together. This article purports to identify and critique a form of French food Whiteness (blanchité alimentaire), that is, the use of food and eating practices to reify and reinforce Whiteness as the dominant racial identity. To do so, it develops four case studies of how law elevates a fiction of homogeneous French/White food as superior and normative at the expense of alternative ways of eating and their eaters-the law of geographical indications, school lunches, citizenship, and cultural heritage.
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Critical food scholars have long noted that much of local food discourse in the US is underwritten by a deeply regressive agrarian imaginary that valorizes “small family farms” while erasing historical legacies of racism. In this paper, I examine one influential expression of the agrarian imaginary that I call the fantasy of “real food,” and illustrate how that discourse contributes to ongoing exclusions in farmers markets. Drawing on Lacanian psychoanalysis, I explain how the fantasy of real food positions white middle-class consumers to view themselves as protagonists in a romantic narrative of loss and recovery, in which their enlightened consumption practices precipitate the return of authentic social relations and connections to nature. I then trace the influence of this fantasy through a reading of selected popular media, and illustrate how the racist, classist, and patriarchal antipathies of the agrarian imaginary find legitimate expression in an alternate form as affectively charged moral and aesthetic commitments. Finally, I show how this fantasy logic makes both the exclusion of outsiders and the policing of farmers appear not only reasonable but morally righteous. I conclude by arguing that we cannot rely on the reflexivity of the privileged to deliver justice, no matter how well-meaning they may be, and suggest that we need new imaginaries and new narratives to guide our politics of consumption.
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One innovative approach toward addressing community-level food access is nexus analysis. This framework suggests that social actions do not happen outside of context, but rather are embedded within unique political, cultural and economic histories. In this paper, I conduct a case study analysis of the South Memphis Farmers Market (SMFM), a community-based, resident-led farmers market located in South Memphis, TN. Drawing on an understanding that neighborhood-level institutions such as farmers markets serve as an intermediary space to examine the nexus of macro-level (e.g., how resources are drawn within a community) and micro-level processes (e.g., how residents determine what food to buy and who to buy it from), this paper traces the success of the SMFM as an illustration of positive local response to the question of “good food” access. Through its history, location and connection to its predominantly Black patrons, the SMFM was able to effectively address structural and cultural barriers as a means of improving food access. Findings from the study may offer insights to the theorization of culture and space in community-based health campaigns.
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Although environmental justice has been developed extensively, both theoretically and empirically, its complementary concept, environmental privilege, has received far less scholarly attention, and it has rarely been reflected in empirical geography. Environmental privilege adds an important dimension to environmental justice scholarship, highlighting the importance of understanding environmental inequality by moving from ghettos into places where racial and economic privilege is enjoyed. In this article, I aim to start defining a review of environmental privilege themes and dimensions. Such a review of this social phenomenon will be relevant for the many fields involved in the understanding of pressing sustainability challenges and of human–nature interactions more broadly. I also draw an initial research agenda for addressing environmental privilege in the postpandemic world.
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Farmers markets have been promoted as an avenue to improve access to food in neighborhoods that have been traditionally underserved by other outlets. Residents of these neighborhoods are encouraged to attend market sessions because the foods available are thought to increase access to foods that are healthier and of more variety. While previous studies have shown that farmers markets are choosing to locate in underserved areas, little research has examined how often this is occurring and what these markets offer to customers. Using survey data from 560 farmers markets across nine U.S. states and demographic data from the American Community Survey, this analysis contributes to this understanding by comparing and contrasting the founding years, number of vendors, and types of goods available at markets by neighborhood socio-economic status and racial/ethnic composition. Results show a more recent growth of farmers markets in low-income neighborhoods when compared to more affluent neighborhoods and a relative similarity of growth when looking at racial and ethnic composition. However, the types of goods available and number of vendors are significantly lower in low socio-economic status and high racial and ethnic minority neighborhoods when compared to more affluent and whiter neighborhoods. This suggests that there is continued and increasing farmers market presence in areas traditionally underrepresented, but that there is more work to be done to increase the number of vendors present and the diversity of offerings at these markets.
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Critical food scholarship and BIPOC‐led food activism are demanding government responsibility for developing equitable food systems, while contending with the failure of government to affirm Black and Brown lives. Heeding Black feminist calls for complex geographies, I trace the racial entanglements of food apartheid in daily life in Dubuque, Iowa, USA as they intersect with Growing Together, a community donation gardening program developed through federal nutrition education and state Cooperative Extension programs. Analysing interview data, I examine Growing Together’s lack of accountability for food apartheid in Dubuque, and I focus on radical strategies to disrupt racialised, taken for granted notions of city neighbourhoods as “with” and “without” food, knowledge, skills, or community character. Complex geographies reveal paths to reconfigure Growing Together around mutual interdependency and support of Black‐ and Brown‐led collective struggles against a racist state, paths that ultimately demand the deep governmental transformations called for within racial justice movements.
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For decades, critical agri-food scholarship has sought to evaluate the outcomes of alternative agri-food systems such as organic. Two key critiques have emerged: the first focuses on the limitations of certification-based systems that rely on a neoliberal model of consumer concern; the second critique highlights the Whiteness of alternative food movements and the persistence of racial exclusions. In this paper, we draw these critiques together and extend them through an ethnographic case study of organic cotton in Burkina Faso, West Africa. We explore contradictions in the win–win–win discourse of organic cotton, which promises ecological sustainability, improved livelihoods for producers, as well as pure products for consumers. We argue there is an implicit prioritization of consumers within several organic cotton regulatory rules that focus on ensuring final products free of contamination from pesticide residues. We contend that these rules create difficulties for producers and obstacles for the expansion of sustainable agriculture. Further, the focus on “purity for the consumer” may actually reproduce and transmit (historically fraught and colonial) racialized imaginaries of purity. Some Burkinabè producers see organic as prioritizing purity for an imagined White consumer. Organic’s call to “get back to the dirt” also clashes with a cultural context where aspiration for development is often expressed as “getting out of the dirt.” This paper thus raises new questions about the implications of organic agriculture’s intense focus on purity for a) the full realization of the promise of organics and b) residual racial imaginaries embedded within the idiom of “purity” itself.
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Fat studies has produced tremendous theoretical contributions that upend hegemonic discourses posing fatness as a social problem. In spite of some key contributions, food and environmental justice literatures both have been slow to fully integrate fat studies perspectives into the study of food and environments. This paper seeks a more systematic integration of fat insights within both literatures, offering several points of departure based on existing thematic convergences. This discussion serves to establish a research agenda for scholars of critical food studies and environmental justice for transforming the existing sluggishness into a systematic treatment of the role of anti-fat discourses and structures in food and environmental systems.
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The contemporary global spice trade is a multi-million dollar industry that frequently relies on Global North consumers’ romantic visions of spices and their cultivators in the Global South. From fieldwork with ethnic minority farmers in upland northern Vietnam growing star anise, Cinnamomum cassia (often marketed as cinnamon), and black cardamom, and from a content analysis of digital marketing websites, it becomes clear that astute practices of commodification and de-commodification are invoked at different nodes along these spice global commodity chains. In this paper we investigate the strategies deployed by Vietnamese state officials, Vietnam-based exporting companies, and overseas importing and retail companies to promote and market these three spices. We find major disjunctures between the “geographical indications” approach advanced by the Vietnamese state to link products to particular places and peoples, and the “placeless” strategies mobilized by private Vietnamese and Chinese exporters. Global North importers further complicate the story, often attempting to de-commodify or de-fetishize the spices on digital-marketing platforms. By focusing on the final nodes along these commodity chains – yet to be studied or critiqued – our findings raise important questions regarding the implications of such divergent marketing strategies for farmers at the initial nodes of these spice chains.
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Through community-engaged research, we investi­gate how political and economic practices have cre­ated food apartheid and the ways in which this legacy complicates efforts toward equitable urban agriculture in Salt Lake City (SLC). The study takes place in SLC’s Westside, where an ample number of farms and gardens exist, yet food insecurity is a persistent issue. We partner with a small urban CSA farm operating in a USDA-designated food desert in SLC’s Westside to explore the farmers’ own questions about whom their farm is serving and the farms’ potential to contribute to food jus­tice in their community. Specifically, we examine (1) the member distribution of this urban CSA farm and (2) the underlying socio-political, eco­nomic, and geographic factors, such as inequitable access to land, housing, urban agriculture, food, and transportation, that contribute to this distribu­tion. GIS analyses, developed with community partners, reveal spatial patterns between contempo­rary food insecurity and ongoing socioeconomic disparities matching 1930s residential redlining maps. These data resonate with a critical geo­graphic approach to food apartheid and inform a need for deeper and more holistic strategies for food sovereignty through urban agriculture in SLC. While resource constraints may prevent some small farmers from attending to these issues, partner­ships in praxis can build capacity and engender opportunities to investigate and disrupt the racial hierarchies enmeshed in federal agricultural policy, municipal zoning, and residential homeownership programs that perpetuate food apartheid.
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Purpose The purpose of this study is to segment Czech consumers based on their sustainable food consumption and their relationship with listening to music. Specifically, the authors attempt to answer the following question: is the relationship to music a segmentation difference for young consumers in the case of sustainability? The food-related lifestyle (FRL) concept is used as a framework; little attention has been paid to the FRL profile in the context of certain types of consumer orientations toward sustainability as a social value among consumers in Czechia. Design/methodology/approach In this research, the authors used 22 items related to sustainability (identify sustainability-oriented and health-oriented variables and socially and ethically oriented variables). The statistical data analysis techniques included factor analysis and cluster analysis. The results of the cluster analysis are the market segments. The total sample consists of 331 university students from Czechia. These data are from a continuous research project. A factor analysis identified six factors with satisfactory reliability coefficients. Using factor scores, a cluster analysis was run, resulting in four segments. These segments were further analyzed and described toward their sustainability orientation. Findings FRL concept was used to evaluate whether there are differences in the profiles of consumer orientations. Results emphasize the importance of personal characteristics and attitudes toward music, which in turn affect strategies to communicate with different segments to promote sustainable foods. Each segment has statistically significant differences in terms of its FRL. Originality/value This study explores the link between attitudes and behavior and suggests strategies to better understand the effect of information on consumer behavior. The results can help practitioners develop labeling strategies for fair-trade and sustainable foods to better focus on specific segments of consumers. This can be relevant when a sustainable food market is just starting, but hopes to reach more maturity in Czechia should be of the utmost importance for investors making long-term investments.
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“Coming home to eat” [Nabhan, 2002. Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures and Politics of Local Foods. Norton, New York] has become a clarion call among alternative food movement activists. Most food activist discourse makes a strong connection between the localization of food systems and the promotion of environmental sustainability and social justice. Much of the US academic literature on food systems echoes food activist rhetoric about alternative food systems as built on alternative social norms. New ways of thinking, the ethic of care, desire, realization, and vision become the explanatory factors in the creation of alternative food systems. In these norm-based explanations, the “Local” becomes the context in which this type of action works. In the European food system literature about local “value chains” and alternative food networks, localism becomes a way to maintain rural livelihoods. In both the US and European literatures on localism, the global becomes the universal logic of capitalism and the local the point of resistance to this global logic, a place where “embeddedness” can and does happen. Nevertheless, as other literatures outside of food studies show, the local is often a site of inequality and hegemonic domination. However, rather than declaim the “radical particularism” of localism, it is more productive to question an “unreflexive localism” and to forge localist alliances that pay attention to equality and social justice. The paper explores what that kind of localist politics might look like.
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Bioregionalists have championed the utility of the concept of the watershed as an organizing framework for thought and action directed to understanding and implementing appropriate and respectful human interaction with particular pieces of land. In a creative analogue to the watershed, permaculturist Arthur Getz has recently introduced the term “foodshed” to facilitate critical thought about where our food is coming from and how it is getting to us. We find the “foodshed” to be a particularly rich and evocative metaphor; but it is much more than metaphor. Like its analogue the watershed, the foodshed can serve us as a conceptual and methodological unit of analysis that provides a frame for action as well as thought. Food comes to most of us now through a global food system that is destructive of both natural and social communities. In this article we explore a variety of routes for the conceptual and practical elaboration of the foodshed. While corporations that are the principal beneficiaries of a global food system now dominate the production, processing, distribution, and consumption of food, alternatives are emerging that together could form the basis for foodshed development. Just as many farmers are recognizing the social and environmental advantages to sustainable agriculture, so are many consumers coming to appreciate the benefits of fresh and sustainably produced food. Such producers and consumers are being linked through such innovative arrangements as community supported agriculture and farmers markets. Alternative producers, alternative consumers, and alternative small entrepreneurs are rediscovering community and finding common ground in municipal and community food councils. Recognition of one's residence within a foodshed can confer a sense of connection and responsibility to a particular locality. The foodshed can provide a place for us to ground ourselves in the biological and social realities of living on the land and from the land in a place that we can call home, a place to which we are or can become native.
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This article uses social movement theory to analyze environmental justice rhetoric. It argues that the environmental justice frame is a master frame that uses discourses about injustice as an effective mobilizing tool. The article identifies an environmental justice paradigm and compares it with the new environmental paradigm. In addition, the article discusses why the environmental justice movement grew so fast and why its adherents find the environmental justice frame so appealing. During the past decade, environmental justice thought has emerged as a major part of the environmental discourse. Though much has been written on the envi- ronmental justice movement (EJM), attention is focused on case studies, analyz- ing the spatial distribution of environmental hazards, and examining policy for- mulation. Despite the fact that the EJM has had profound effects on environmental research, policy making, and the environmental movement, little attention has been paid to the ideological foundations of the EJM. In essence, Why did this discourse and movement arise now? What are its antecedents? What are its underlying principles, and how are these related to the dominant environmental discourse? This article argues that environmental justice thought represents a new paradigm—the environmental justice paradigm (EJP). The article analyzes the rise of the EJP. First, it examines the social construction of environmental problems, and then it traces the development of the major envi- ronmental paradigms, showing how the EJP evolved out of these and other bod- ies of thought. The article also examines the new dimensions of environmental thought that the EJP introduces and how the paradigm is changing the environ- mental discourse. This article will help us understand how and why the EJP arose, and why it has had such a significant impact on the environmental move- ment in such a short time. The article views paradigms as social constructions; that is, they are ideological packages expressing bodies of thought that change over time and according to the actors developing the paradigms.
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This paper begins to explore the changing political geographies of alternative development as practiced and envisioned in the global South. Looking specifically at the growing movement and market for fair trade foods, this form of alternative development has become the moral business of latte drinkers and other reflexive consumers in Europe and the US. Fair trade attempts to re-connect producers and consumers economically, politically, and psychologically through the creation of a transnational moral economy. This re-connection is accomplished through material and semiotic commoditization processes that produce fair trade commodities. The semiotic production of these commodities and their traffic in particular ‘political ecological imaginaries’ is essential to the formation of ethical production-consumption links, acting to also politicize consumption and fair trade eaters. Fair trade's moral economy rides the tension between the ethical relationships it fosters and the need for the wily characteristics of enterprise in the construction of transnational trade networks. Bringing recent work on moral geography to bear, constructing this moral economy is an attempt to facilitate a sense of ‘solidarity in difference’ in the experiences of global economic inequalities between North and South and growers and eaters. At the same time, fair trade networks look to produce an expansive ‘spatial dynamics of concern’ in the fashioning of ethical places of production and consumption. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the continuing dilemmas critical for fair trade and suggestions for further empirical study of fair trade provisioning and alternative development networks.
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The paper demonstrates how whiteness is produced in progressive non-profit efforts to promote sustainable farming and food security in the US. I explore whiteness by addressing the spatial dimensions of this food politics. I draw on feminist and materialist theories of nature, space and difference as well as research conducted between 2003 and the present. Whiteness emerges spatially in efforts to increase food access, support farmers and provide organic food to consumers. It clusters and expands through resource allocation to particular organizations and programs and through participation in non-profit conferences. Community food’s discourse builds on a late-modern and, in practice, ‘white’ combination of science and ideology concerning healthful food and healthy bodies. Whiteness in alternative food efforts rests, as well, on inequalities of wealth that serve both to enable different food economies and to separate people by their ability to consume. It is latent in the support of romanticized notions of community, but also in the more active support for coalition-building across social differences. These well-intentioned food practices reveal both the transformative potential of progressive whiteness and its capacity to become exclusionary in spite of itself. Whiteness coheres precisely, therefore, in the act of ‘doing good’.
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Race is, in part, made and remade through the practices of growing, selling, purchasing and eating food. Consequently, some food practices are also ‘racial practices’. Drawing on a study in progress of the Minneapolis Farmers' Market, the paper covers two sub-themes of embodiment: racial division and intimacy. The corporeal feminist theory of Elizabeth Grosz offers the view that the body has explanatory power. This framework enables a discussion of the materiality of race rather than its representation or performance. Race emerges through the movement, clustering and encounter of phenotypically differentiated bodies. Through small segregations in which bodies move toward some vegetables and not others and through attractions that propel bodies to touch bitter melon and talk with growers, bodies shape the Market's meaning. This reflection on tendencies connecting phenotype, space and leaves is meant as a step toward a politics of bodily practice.
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Whiteness enables the coherence of an alliance organized to promote community food security and sustainable farming. This unnamed presence shapes a discourse identifying the focus of struggle as well as resource allocation, conference form and content, list serv discussions, staffing and programming. Unacknowledged white privilege gives the lie to the movement's rhetoric of justice, good intentions and sustainability. And yet it is clear that racism is an organizing process in the food system: people of color disproportionately experience food insecurity, lose their farms and face the dangerous work of food processing and agricultural labor. Critical analyses of social movements argue that a failure to confront difference undermines progressive change efforts. The paper provides evidence of how the community food movement reproduces white privilege and proposes ways it might engage with anti-racism.
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Low-income households may face higher food prices for three reasons: (1) on average, low-income households may spend less in supermarkets--which typically offer the lowest prices and greatest range of brands, package sizes, and quality choices; (2) low-income households are less likely to live in suburban locations where food prices are typically lower; and (3) supermarkets in low-income neighborhoods may charge higher prices than those in nearby higher income neighborhoods. Despite the prevailing higher prices, surveys of household food expenditures show that low-income households typically spend less than other households, on a per unit basis, for the foods they buy. Low-income households may realize lower costs by selecting more economical foods and lower quality items. In areas where food choices are limited due to the kinds and locations of foodstores, households may have sharply higher food costs.
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Frankenberg explores the unique intersection of race and sex as she examines the way that white women relate to racism. She writes from the assumption that whiteness is socially constructed rather than naturally pre-existing. She theorizes "from experience" to offer a unique perspective that retains the strength of a theoretical foundation as well as the relatability of personal narratives. She interviews thirty white women to get their perspectives on various racial topics and gain a critical standpoint for thinking about individual and social forces that construct and maintain whiteness in contemporary society. She begins with the question, "What is white women's relationship to racism?" The women discuss various aspects of interracial courtship, the role of power in acknowledging racial differences, and the function of language in facing and overcoming the negative effects of this difference.
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What should we have for dinner? When you can eat just about anything nature (or the supermarket) has to offer, deciding what you should eat will inevitably stir anxiety, especially when some of the foods might shorten your life. Today, buffeted by one food fad after another, America is suffering from a national eating disorder. As the cornucopia of the modern American supermarket and fast food outlet confronts us with a bewildering and treacherous landscape, what's at stake becomes not only our own and our children's health, but the health of the environment that sustains life on earth. Pollan follows each of the food chains--industrial food, organic or alternative food, and food we forage ourselves--from the source to the final meal, always emphasizing our coevolutionary relationship with the handful of plant and animal species we depend on. The surprising answers Pollan offers have profound political, economic, psychological, and even moral implications for all of us.--From publisher description.
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Under the banner of food justice, the last few years has seen a profusion of projects focused on selling, donating, bringing or growing fresh fruits and vegetables in neighborhoods inhabited by African Americans — often at below market prices — or educating them to the quality of locally grown, seasonal, and organic food. The focus of this article is the subjects of such projects — those who enroll in such projects `to bring good food to others,' in this case undergraduate majors in Community Studies at the University of California at Santa Cruz who do six-month field studies with such organizations. Drawing on formal and informal communications with me, I show that they are hailed by a set of discourses that reflect whitened cultural histories, such as the value of putting one's hands in the soil. I show their disappointments when they find these projects lack resonance in the communities in which they are located. I then show how many come to see that current activism reflects white desires more than those of the communities they putatively serve. In this way, the article provides insight into the production and reproduction of whiteness in the alternative food movement, and how it might be disrupted. I conclude that more attention to the cultural politics of alternative food might enable whites to be more effective allies in anti-racist struggles.
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If race is an arbitrary sign used to divide up the human population, why do social constructionists continue to deploy the term at the same time as they refute its existence? If race is an empty category that holds no value what does it mean to be writing, researching and conducting ethnography in the name of race? This article considers the problematic of race enquiry in the light of an anti-foundationalist impulse evident in recent writing on cultural identity by scholars such as Bhabha, Butler, Derrida, Fanon and Gilroy. This generative cluster of philosophical ideas, theories and practices are tentatively identified here as decipherable of an emergent post-race paradigm. Though offering a critical interrogation of the dominant paradigm in race thinking – social constructionism – the article calls for an appreciation of the highly productive tensions evident in the broader genealogy of race theory and politics. In encouraging critical dialogues within and across essentialist, constructionist and post-race frameworks this essay addresses how we can do, undo, or do differently the question of race in ethnography.
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This article is a theoretical overview that introduces a special issue on neoliberalism and agro-food activism in California. Its primary purpose is to theorize how projects in opposition to neoliberalizations of the food and agricultural sectors seem to produce and reproduce neoliberal forms, spaces of governance, and mentalities. The recently deployed analytics of neoliberalization and neoliberal governmentality have yet to be deployed in agro-food scholarship, owing to tendencies to see neoliberalism as a set of impacts, to use the commodity chain/network as an analytical framework, and to romanticize the local as resistance. Yet, the increased salience of food politics in contemporary life may itself reflect the neoliberal turn, particularly insofar as much of what passes as politics these days is done through highly individualized purchasing decisions. The paper thus argues that agro-food politics as well as the scholarship that supports it have contributed to neoliberal subject formation, as demonstrated by four recurring themes in contemporary food activism as they intersect with neoliberal rationalities: consumer choice, localism, entrepreneurialism, and self-improvement. Through a review of aspects of California’s history particularly relevant to the case studies presented in this special issue it proposes in addition that the character of agro-food politics in California reflects an articulation of California’ economic and political history, agrarian development, enduring and evolving food culture, and the neoliberal project. The paper concludes with a brief consideration of the politics of the possible in light of trends in agro-food activism, calling for closer attention to the micro-politics that shape various initiatives.
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Urban aspects of local food systems, such as farmers' markets, provide an opportunity for city residents to “do” environmentalism within their own home places. What environmentalism is and how to do it, however, vary greatly with the social location of the population involved. This paper investigates the social construction of the environment through participant-observation research at two urban farmers' markets in the San Francisco Bay Area. In one farmers' market, located in a largely affluent and white neighbourhood, locally grown organic food becomes a symbol through which urban eaters can connect to wild nature. This framing provides an urban corollary to the wilderness narrative that dominates the US environmental movement. In another case, located in a low-income area, the farmers' market's largely African-American managers and vendors liken the farmers' market to environmental justice efforts. By constructing the environment as the places where the customers it targets “live, work and play”, this farmers' market emphasises race and inequality, rather than traditional environmental concerns. Both farmers' markets, however, do to some degree engage both ecology and equity in their discourses and actions. Given the importance of meaning-centred tensions to conflicts between the environmental justice and reform environmental movements, my analysis has important implications for the development of a paradigm that attends to both ecological sustainability and social justice.
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This article takes on the cultural politics of “if they only knew” as it relates to alternative food practice. It draws on surveys and interviews of managers of two kinds of alternative food institutions—farmers' markets and community-supported agriculture—to illustrate the color-blind mentalities and universalizing impulses of alternative food discourse. The ways in which these discourses instantiate whiteness may have a chilling effect on people of color who tend not to participate in these markets proportionate to whites. Minor exclusionary practices may have profound implications for shaping projects of agro-food transformation.
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This article explores how members of Slow Food perform identity, establish community, and participate in a politics of consumption through the use of new local imaginaries. Building on Arjun Appadurai's (1996) notion of “the imaginary,” new local imaginaries are contemporary sites, or culturescapes, where notions of the local are re-inscribed through discourses of the global. Through the use of new local imaginaries, members of Slow Food manage multiple identities in an attempt to resist and mobilize against the negative consequences of industrialization. Further, members of Slow Food reconfigure linear notions of time and space in their attempt to rediscover cultural moments that they perceive to be absent from traditions within the United States. Despite the creation of an innovative site of resistance, Slow Food members construct a limited notion of the local that excludes working-class and urban cultural expressions.
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In contradistinction to the treatment of race as a problem of epistomology-how is phenotype represented in racial discourse-the author seeks to defend a materialist ontology of race. The creative materiality of race is asserted following the 'material turn' in feminism, anthropology, complexity theory, and Deleuze. Race is shown to be an embodied and material event, a,machine assemblage' with a different spatiality than the self/other scheme of Hegel. Taking issue with the calls for the transcendence of race amongst cultural studies scholars such as Paul Gilroy, the author ends the paper by suggesting that the political battle against racial subordination includes a serious engagement with its biological dimensions. Race should not be eliminated, but its energies harnessed through a cosmopolitan ethics which is sensitive to its heterogeneous and dynamic nature.
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This article develops the concept of food justice, which places access to healthy, affordable, culturally appropriate food in the contexts of institutional racism, racial formation, and racialized geographies. Through comparative ethnographic case studies, we analyze the demands for food justice articulated by the Karuk Tribe of California and the West Oakland Food Collaborative. Activists in these communities use an environmental justice frame to address access to healthy food, advocating for a local food system in West Oakland, and for the demolition of Klamath River dams that prevent subsistence fishing. Food justice serves as a theoretical and political bridge between scholarship and activism on sustainable agriculture, food insecurity, and environmental justice. This concept brings the environmental justice emphasis on racially stratified access to environmental benefits to bear on the sustainable agriculture movement's attention to the processes of food production and consumption. Furthermore, we argue that the concept of food justice can help the environmental justice movement move beyond several limitations of their frequent place-based approach and the sustainable agriculture movement to more meaningfully incorporate issues of equity and social justice. Additionally, food justice may help activists and policymakers working on food security to understand the institutionalized nature of denied access to healthy food.
Article
Environmental justice is both a vocabulary for political opportunity, mobilization and action, and a policy principle to guide public decision making. It emerged initially in the US, and more recently in the UK, as a new vocabulary underpinning action by community organizations campaigning against environmental injustices. However, as the environmental justice discourse has matured, it has become increasingly evident that it should play a role in the wider agendas for sustainable development and social inclusion. The links between sustainability and environmental justice are becoming clearer and more widely understood in the UK by NGOs and government alike, and it is the potential synergy between these two discourses which is the focus of this paper. This paper argues that the concept of ‘just sustainability’ provides a discourse for policymakers and activists, which brings together the key dimensions of both environmental justice and sustainable development.
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Direct agricultural markets, predicated on face-to-face ties between producers and consumers, are often seen as central components of local food systems. Activists and academic analysts often assume that trust and social connection characterize direct agricultural markets, distinguishing local food systems from the “global food system”. This article examines that premise about direct agricultural markets, using the concept of social embeddedness from economic sociology to analyze the interplay of the economic and the social. Specifically, it draws on Block's (1990) elaboration of the concepts of marketness and instrumentalism to qualify the concept of social embeddedness. Taken together, and augmented by consideration of how they relate to power and privilege, these concepts provide an analytical framework that more accurately describes the social relations of two types of direct agricultural markets — the farmers’ market and community supported agriculture. In providing an alternative market, farmers’ markets create a context for closer social ties between farmers and consumers, but remain fundamentally rooted in commodity relations. In attempting to construct an alternative to the market, as reflected in an explicit emphasis on community and in the distinctive “share” relationship, community supported agriculture moves closer towards the decommodification of food. Nonetheless, in both types of direct markets, tensions between embeddedness, on the one hand, and marketness and instrumentalism, on the other, suggest how power and privilege may sometimes rest more with educated, middle-class consumers than with farmers or less-advantaged consumers. Recognizing how marketness and instrumentalism complicate social embeddedness is critical for understanding the viability, development and prospects of local food systems.
Article
A hard-hitting look at the story behind California's famous scenery. The beauty of the California landscape is integral to its place in the imagination of generations of people around the world. In The Lie of the Land, geographer Don Mitchell looks at the human costs associated with this famous scenery. Through an account of the labor history of the state, Mitchell examines the material and ideological struggles over living and working conditions that played a large part in the construction of the contemporary California landscape. The Lie of the Land examines the way the California landscape was built on the backs of migrant workers, focusing on migratory labor and agribusiness before World War II. The book relates the historical geography of California to the processes of labor that made it, discussing not only significant strikes but also on the everyday existence of migrant workers in the labor camps, fields, and "Hoovervilles" where they lived. Mitchell places class struggle at the heart of social development, demonstrating concretely how farm workers affected their social and material environment, as well as exploring how farm owners responded to their workers' efforts to improve their living and working conditions. Mitchell also places "reformers" in context, revealing the actual nature of their role in relation to migrant workers' efforts-that of undermining the struggle for genuine social change. In addition, this volume captures the significance of the changing composition of the agricultural workforce, particularly in racial terms, as the class struggle evolved over a period of decades. Mitchell has written a narrative history that describes the intimate connection between landscape representations and the material form of geography. The Lie of the Land places people squarely in the middle of the landscapes they inhabit, shedding light on the complex and seemingly contradictory interactions between progressive state agents, radical workers, and California growers as they seek to remake the land in their own image. "It is important that the story of the migrant workers is told and Mitchell tells it well." Transactions/Area "The Lie of the Land opens up new and rich possibilities to help prod our thinking about the processes involved in understanding the changing morphology of landscape. This is an important book. Mitchell's lucid examination of the role of migrant workers in shaping and reshaping California's agricultural landscapes brings new meaning to the creation of the sometimes sublime, yet always complex, rural landscapes in places like the Salinas Valley, the Central Valley, and the Imperial Valley. For many historical geographers and others fortunate enough to read this book, the vision and study of landscape evolution will never be the same." Historical Geography "For anyone wishing to go beyond such movies and novels that do address Californian labour history before the Second World War, this is an excellent integration of all too often disparate approaches and materials. It should be required reading far beyond the confines of labour history." Labour History Review "The Lie of the Land is an important contribution to the study of landscape, to cultural geography, and more generally to critical geography. The book should be held up as a model for students and researchers in the field." Environment & Planning A "In The Lie of the Land, Don Mitchell represents a new, interdisciplinary, cultural geography, using such disparate fields as art history and labor history. He looks at migrant workers in California from the Wheatland riot of 1913 to the Bracero Program of 1942." Western Historical Quarterly "What he discovers is that the image of California as an agricultural Eden, as initially witnessed by John Steinbeck's Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath, never matches the reality of a land that is tightly controlled by corporate growers, a land that exploits the labor of waves of migratory workers from the late 19th century on. Mitchell looks behind the pastoral charm of fertile fields and neatly tended farmhouses to reveal the brutal working conditions and squalid living conditions of the migratory camps. Along the way, he acquaints the reader with a century of labor history and the fact that Anglos, Filipinos, Japanese and Chicanos have all taken their turn at working--and fighting against--the California agricultural landscape." Journal of the West "Mitchell, who teaches geography at the University of Colorado at Boulder, describes the labor struggles of the migrants with clarity and grace. The Lie of the Land is, in many ways, a valuable contribution to the study of California labor relations." Los Angeles Reader "Amidst the array of studies about California agriculture, geographer Don Mitchell offers a singular analysis. His study is a carefully researched and closely reasoned interpretation of the interaction between the place, the people, and the agricultural plenitude which together, he contends, have contributed to the evolving morphology of the California landscape." Agricultural History Don Mitchell is assistant professor of geography at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
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The City, first published in 1925 and reprinted here in its entirety, is a cross-section of concerns of the Chicago urban school during the period of its most intense activity. Park and Burgess realized that ecological and economic factors were converted into a social organization by the traditions and aspirations of city dwellers. In their efforts to achieve objectivity, these sociologists never lost sight of the values that propel human beings. "It is a classic which remains relevant largely because it poses questions still unresolved."—Choice
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Typescript. Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of California, Santa Cruz, 1988. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 266-276).
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The author argues that radical geography needs a political revival. Of many avenues that might be followed, the areas of consumption and commodity chains are taken up for consideration. Revival involves a critique of certain trendy, theoretical approaches prevalent particularly in the study of the commodity -- as with postmodern notions of the sign and image space, the new retail geography with its stress on identity, and actor-network theory diverting into nonhuman actants. Although not without potential, these approaches lack critical, political edge, especially in the sense of connecting consumption with production. Liberation at one end is divorced from exploitation at the other. Nets are noticed but not workers. As an alternative, a materialist - semiotic analysis is proposed using the concept of commodity chains. This analysis has greater potential for theorizing connections between consumers and producers in a way that stimulates political praxis as well. Nine strategies for political engagement are proposed, from deconstructing advertisements to direct actions such as boycotts, anticorporate campaigns, and guerilla shopping tactics. The intention is to involve radical geography in a new politics of consumption.
Sustainable Communities and the Challenge of Environmental Justice
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Cronon W (1995) The trouble with wilderness, or, getting back to the wrong nature. In W Cronon (ed) Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature (pp 69-90). New York: Norton Daniel C (1981) Bitter Harvest, A History Of California Farmworkers, 1870-1941. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press DiChiro G (1995) Nature as community: The convergence of environment and social justice. In W Cronon (ed) Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature (pp 298-320). New York: Norton DuPuis E M and Goodman D (2005) Should we go "home" to eat? Toward a reflexive politics of localism. Journal of Rural Studies 21:359-371