From Food Justice to a Tool of the Status Quo: Three Sub-movements Within Local Food


DOI: 10.1007/s10806-013-9459-6

Cite this article as:
Werkheiser, I. & Noll, S. J Agric Environ Ethics (2014) 27: 201. doi:10.1007/s10806-013-9459-6


The local food movement has been touted by some as a profoundly effective way to make our food system become more healthy, just, and sustainable. Others have criticized the movement as being less a challenge to the status quo and more an easily co-opted support offering just another set of choices for affluent consumers. In this paper, we analyze three distinct sub-movements within the local food movement, the individual-focused sub-movement, the systems-focused sub-movement, and the community-focused sub-movement. These movements can be combined within any particular campaign or within the goals of any particular organization or individual activist, but they are nevertheless quite different from each other, and come out of different conceptualizations of what food, people, and locality are. We argue that most of the critiques leveled against local food are actually directed against the individual-focused sub-movement, which is most compatible with the current industrial food system, and perhaps not surprisingly receives the most mainstream attention. Further, we argue that while each movement has its own strengths and weaknesses, it is the community-focused sub-movement that has the most potential to radically transform the global food system.


Local food Food justice Food security Food sovereignty Ethical consumption 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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