FASTing in the mid-west?: A theoretical assessment of ‘feminist agrifoods systems theory’
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In this article, we assess the generalizability of the feminist agrifood systems (FAST) model developed by Sachs et al. (The rise of women farmers and sustainable agriculture, University of Iowa Press, Iowa City, 2016). We ask to what extent might these findings generated from the study of Pennsylvania women farmers be generalized to other regions of the U.S. We define and situate the FAST theory to the Michigan, U.S. context in order to better understand how the shifts in agriculture and women’s roles in the U.S. based on our data, align or depart with that experienced by women farmers in the northeast. We find that there are many similarities in the experiences of these two populations, but there are also some differences. Five primary differences in the two populations are articulated. Michigan women farmers appear to (1) struggle to assert the identity of a farmer; (2) struggle to access land via inheritance; (3) are income dependent on males; (4) often work in value-added production that does not challenge traditionally-coded ‘women’s work’; and (5) perpetuate on-farm education/networks based on nostalgia which may further the distance between producers and consumers. We conclude with a brief discussion of what may account for these differences.
KeywordsFeminist agrifoods systems theory Gender Michigan Pennsylvania Women
Feminist agrifoods systems theory
This research has been supported by Michigan AgBio Research at Michigan State University. We thank the anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on a previous version of this paper. We are also grateful to Carolyn Sachs, Mary Barbercheck, Kathryn Brasier, Nancy Kiernan and Anna Terman for providing the exciting foundation of agrifoods systems theory which catalyzed this work. Any shortcomings are the responsibility of the authors.
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