Mining for justice in the food system: perceptions, practices, and possibilities
Despite much popular interest in food issues, there remains a lack of social justice in the American agrifood system, as evidenced by prevalent hunger and obesity in low-income populations and exploitation of farmworkers. While many consumers and alternative agrifood organizations express interest in and support social justice goals, the incorporation of these goals into on-the-ground alternatives is often tenuous. Academics have an important role in calling out social justice issues and developing the critical thinking skills that can redress inequality in the agrifood system. Academics can challenge ideological categories of inquiry and problem definition, include justice factors in defining research problems, and develop participatory, problem-solving research within social justice movements. In addition, scholars can educate students about the power of epistemologies, discourse, and ideology, thereby expanding the limits and boundaries of what is possible in transforming the agrifood system. In these ways, the academy can be a key player in the creation of a diverse agrifood movement that embraces the discourse of social justice.
KeywordsSocial justice Food systems Alternative agrifood institutions Local food Farm workers Organic Sustainable agriculture Public sociology Public health Consumers
- Allen, P. 2004. Together at the table: Sustainability and sustenance in the American agrifood system. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press.Google Scholar
- Allen, P., and C. Sachs. 2007. Women and food chains: The gendered politics of food. International Journal of Sociology of Food and Agriculture 15 (1): 1–23.Google Scholar
- Allen, P., C. Hinrichs. 2007. Buying into ‘buy local’: Agendas and assumptions of U.S. local food initiatives. In Constructing alternative food geographies? Representation and practice, (eds.) L. Holloway, D. Maye, and M. Kneafsy, 255–272. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Press.Google Scholar
- Bread for the World. 2004. Are we on track to end hunger? The 14th annual report on the state of world hunger. http://www.bread.org/learn/hunger-reports/are-we-on-track-to-end.html. Accessed December 10, 2007.
- Critser, G. 2003. Fat land: How Americans became the fattest people in the world. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
- Gutierrez, L.M. 1995. Understanding the empowerment process: Does consciousness make a difference? Social Work Research 19 (4): 229–237.Google Scholar
- Mesny, A. 1998. Sociology for whom? The role of sociology in reflexive modernity. The Canadian Journal of Sociology 23 (2/3): 159–178.Google Scholar
- National Center for Farmworker Health (NCFH). 2002. Overview of America’s farmworkers. http://www.ncfh.org/aaf_02.php. Accessed 1 December 2007.
- Perez, J., and P. Allen. 2007. Farming the college market: Results of a consumer study at UC Santa Cruz. Center Research Brief, no. 11. Santa Cruz, CA: Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems.Google Scholar
- Pollan, M. 2006. The omnivore’s dilemma: A natural history of four meals. New York, NY: Penguin Press.Google Scholar
- Schlosser, E. 2001. Fast food nation: The dark side of the all-American meal. Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin.Google Scholar
- Sinclair, U. 1981. The jungle. New York: Bantam Books (Original work published 1906).Google Scholar
- Spurlock, M. 2004. Supersize me [video recording]. Presented by roadside attractions, Samuel Goldwyn films, and showtime films. Produced by M. Spurlock and The Con. New York, NY: Hart Sharp Video.Google Scholar