Liberalism and the Two Directions of the Local Food Movement


DOI: 10.1007/s10806-013-9460-0

Cite this article as:
Noll, S. J Agric Environ Ethics (2014) 27: 211. doi:10.1007/s10806-013-9460-0


The local food movement is, increasingly, becoming a part of the modern American landscape. However, while it appears that the local food movement is gaining momentum, one could question whether or not this trend is, in fact, politically and socially sustainable. Is local food just another trend that will fade away or is it here to stay? One way to begin addressing this question is to ascertain whether or not it is compatible with liberalism, a set of influential political theories that have shaped and continue to shape our political system. In this paper, I argue that the local food movement is partially compatible with forms of liberalism that accept the limited application of the principle of neutrality, as there are two directions or trends within local food: (1) The systems based direction and (2) the individual focused direction. The systems based direction is not compatible while the individual focused movement is largely compatible with liberalism. I go on to argue that the two directions form a dialectic that increases the political and social sustainability of the movement as a whole. Conceiving of the individual focused and the systems focused directions as in opposition to one another is, itself, a mistake.


Environmental philosophy Liberal theory The local food movement Philosophy of food Communitarian philosophy 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyMichigan State UniversityLansingUSA

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