In this article, we bring together academic literature tracing contemporary social movements centered on food, unpacking the discourses of local food, community food security, food justice, and food sovereignty. This body of literature transcends national borders and draws on a rich genealogy of studies on environmental justice, the intersections of race, class, and gender, and sustainable agro-food systems. Scholars have emphasized two key issues that persist within these movements: inequalities related to race and class that shape the production, distribution, and consumption of food, and the neoliberal constraints of market-based solutions to problems in the food system. This article claims that food movements in the United States would be strengthened through reframing their work within a paradigm of food sovereignty, an approach that would emphasize the production of local alternatives, but also enable a dismantling of the policies that ensure the dominance of the corporate food regime. The article concludes by offering a critical analysis of future research directions for scholars who are committed to understanding and strengthening more democratic and sustainable food systems.
Addressing Inequality and Neoliberalism
Teresa Marie Mares and Alison Hope Alkon
Food System Analysis Based on Interaction Between Research, Policy, and Society
Heidrun Moschitz, Jan Landert, Christian Schader, and Rebekka Frick
Urban Agriculture in the Urban Food System Urban agriculture practice involves a new way of thinking about food, including a critique of the predominant food system. It plays a major role in making food visible and can thus support a general
Book Review Essay
Louise Nelson Dyble
David Pimentel and Marcia Pimentel, Food, Energy and Society, 3rd ed. (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2008), xix + 380 pp.
James E. McWilliams, Just Food: Where Locavores Get it Wrong and How We can Truly Eat Responsibly (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2009), 258 pp., Pb US$14.99.
C. Claire Hinrichs and Thomas A. Lyson, eds., Remaking the North American Food System: Strategies for Sustainability (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2008), 384 pp., Hb US$45.00, Pb US$29.95.
David Burch and Geoffrey Lawrence, eds., Supermarkets and Agri-food Supply Chains (Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 2007), xiv + 330 pp.
A New Rights Framework for Food and Nature?
Food sovereignty, as a critical alternative to the concept of food security, is broadly defined as the right of local peoples to control their own food systems, including markets, ecological resources, food cultures, and production modes. This article reviews the origins of the concept of food sovereignty and its theoretical and methodological development as an alternative approach to food security, building on a growing interdisciplinary literature on food sovereignty in the social and agroecological sciences. Specific elements of food sovereignty examined include food regimes, rights-based and citizenship approaches to food and food sovereignty, and the substantive concerns of advocates for this alternative paradigm, including a new trade regime, agrarian reform, a shift to agroecological production practices, attention to gender relations and equity, and the protection of intellectual and indigenous property rights. The article concludes with an evaluation of community-based perspectives and suggestions for future research on food sovereignty.
The lottery and precarity of farming in Peru
Astrid B. Stensrud
The neoliberal global food system has intensified the uncertainties associated with peasant farming and agrarian livelihoods around the world. This article examines processes of precarization among smallholder farmers in the Majes Irrigation Project in Peru. By discussing price volatility and uncertainty related to the “free market,” I argue that the conditions of small-scale entrepreneurial farmers today can best be understood in terms of gambling and precarity. After four decades of neoliberal deregulation, farmers in Majes describe agriculture as a “lottery” where one can win or lose everything. Despite prospects of growth and progress, most farmers rely on low-income dairy farming or contracted crops for agro-industrial corporations. The freedom to take risks in the open market entails uncertainty and often results in loss, and farmers must negotiate the ambiguous relation between autonomy and dependency.
Post-industrial French Paysans Fight for a Solidaire Global Food Policy
If the post-war industrial model entails a mix of technological and chemical interventions that increase farm productivity, then post-industrial agriculture (emerging in the 1970s) constitutes agricultural surpluses, as well as an array of trade, aid and biotechnology practices that introduce novel foodstuffs (processed and genetically modified) on an unprecedented scale. While industrial agriculture reduces the farming population, the latter gives rise to new sets of actors who question the nature and validity of the industrial model. This essay explores the rise of one set of such actors. Paysans (peasants) from France's second largest union, the Confederation Paysanne, challenge the industrial model's instrumental rationality of agriculture. Reframing food questions in terms of food sovereignty, paysans propose a solidarity-based production rationality which gives hope to those who believe that another post-industrial food system is possible.
Recent Research in Sustainable Consumption Policy and Practice
From Slow Food and farmers' markets to ecolabels and fair trade an unprecedented number of consumer-based alternative food movements have risen in response to concerns about the environmental and social effects of industrialized agriculture. Some research suggests that these movements are successful in their efforts to reconnect communities, demystify global food chains, and produce sustainable foods, which are healthier for the planet and human bodies. Yet other scholars argue that the contemporary focus on consumer responsibility in policy and practice indicates much more than a process of reflexive modernization. The devolution of responsibility to consumers and the dominance of market-based solutions, these scholars argue, reflect the growing influence of neoliberal environmental governance. From this perspective these movements are naive in their assumption that consumers have the power necessary to overcome the structural barriers that inhibit significant change. These critics argue that the focus on consumer responsibility excludes those without access to consumer choice, reproduces social hierarchies, and fails to deliver the political and redistributive solutions necessary to achieve sustainability. Drawing on research across the social sciences this article surveys the existing evidence about the effectiveness of consumer-based movements in their attempts to create sustainable food systems.
Lessons from Madrid
Marian Simon-Rojo, Inés Morales Bernardos, and Jon Sanz Landaluze
democratize the food system ( Calle Collado et al. 2010 ). The resurgence of urban agriculture in times of crisis has been a recurrent phenomenon, most recently occurring in Spain, where the gloomy economic downturn that began in 2008 resulted in high
Civil Society and Urban Agriculture in Europe
Mary P. Corcoran and Joëlle Salomon Cavin
system of the Swiss city of Basel. Their purpose is to explore and promote a conceptual and policy framework within which a more environmentally sustainable, integrated, civic-minded food system can be conceived and developed. The authors suggest that we
Toward a Conceptual Framework
Charlotte Prové, Denise Kemper, and Salma Loudiyi
into account because they facilitate the integration of UA within the food system ( Bailkey and Nasr 2000 ). As UA has grown in scope and size, and involves an increasing number of people, a series of challenges have emerged. First, enthusiastic