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
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
Expectations about food as a key vector of social transformation have soared in recent years, and increasingly attention is being paid to food movements and urban agriculture 1 and their potential to reassert citizen (collective) control and to
Eugene N. Anderson, Jodie Asselin, Jessica diCarlo, Ritwick Ghosh, Michelle Hak Hepburn, Allison Koch, and Lindsay Vogt
intellectual battle against “green thinking” or the “green politics of limits.” The degrowth movement and local-food movements are provided as examples of green thinking. In his critique, Symons argues that reducing consumption today is politically infeasible
A Photovoice Study with Urban Gardeners in Lisbon, Portugal
Krista Harper and Ana Isabel Afonso
to play out in food movements such as urban agriculture ( DeLind 2011 ; Guthman 2008 ), or the potential for urban gardens to be co-opted as a form of neoliberal governance, replacing public investment in city services with voluntarism ( Pudup 2008
Civil Society and Urban Agriculture in Europe
Mary P. Corcoran and Joëlle Salomon Cavin
-Rojo and colleagues trace the emergence of a quartet of food movements as a response to crisis-induced social disempowerment and deprivation. Crucially, these movements, while differing in terms of their objectives, strategies, and lines of action, unified
Peasant Agroecological Systems as New Frontiers of Exploitation?
Anne Cristina de la Vega-Leinert and Peter Clausing
. “ Food Crises, Food Regimes and Food Movements: Rumblings of Reform or Tides of Transformation? ” Journal of Peasant Studies 38 , no. 1 : 109 – 144 , doi: 10.1080/03066150.2010.538578 . 10.1080/03066150.2010.538578 International Union for
Sarah Besky and Jonathan Padwe
; Patel 2009 ). Scholars of food security and food sovereignty examined urban gardening and community food movements in diverse locations (see Truitt 2012 in post-Katrina New Orleans; Freidberg 2001 and Schroeder 1999 in sub-Saharan Africa; Premat