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Eating Outside the Box: FoodShare’s Good Food Box and the Challenge of Scale

Abstract

The concept of scale is useful in analyzing both the strengths and limitations of community food security programs that attempt to link issues of ecological sustainability with social justice. One scalar issue that is particularly important but under-theorized is the scale of social reproduction, which is often neglected in production-focused studies of globalization. FoodShare Toronto's good food box (GFB) program, engages people in the politics of their everyday lives, empowering them to make connections between consumption patterns and broader political-economic, cultural, and political-ecological issues. Community food security (CFS) projects such as the GFB are currently limited in their scope and reach and have been criticized for their inability to deliver food to a larger segment of marginalized, hungry people. A central dilemma for CFS projects is how to engage the majority of urban consumers who still eat “inside the box” of the industrial food system. We argue that the concept of scale helps clarify how CFS projects must “scale out” to other localities, as well as “scale up” to address structural concerns like state capacity, industrial agriculture, and unequal distribution of wealth. This requires the state and the third sector to recognize the importance of multi-scaled food politics as well as a long-term pedagogical project promoting ecological sustainability, social responsibility, and the pleasures of eating locally.

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Abbreviations

GFB:

Good Food Box

CFS:

Community Food Security

TFPC:

Toronto Food Policy Council

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Correspondence to Josée Johnston.

Additional information

Josée Johnston is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto. She is interested in the radical potential of food politics in the context of neo-liberal globalism.

Lauren Baker is a doctoral candidate in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University in Toronto, Canada. Her research interests include food politics, alternative food networks, and place-based social movements. Lauren worked with FoodShare Toronto as a program coordinator for five years and continues to be active in the community food security movement.

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Johnston, J., Baker, L. Eating Outside the Box: FoodShare’s Good Food Box and the Challenge of Scale. Agric Hum Values 22, 313–325 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10460-005-6048-y

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Key words:

  • Canada
  • Community food security
  • Good food box program
  • Scale
  • Social justice
  • Social reproduction
  • Third sector
  • Toronto