Mining for justice in the food system: perceptions, practices, and possibilities
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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
I appreciate the reviewers’ helpful comments, the work of Steven Wolf and Jill Harrison in organizing this special issue, and the support of my UC Santa Cruz colleagues, particularly Gwendolyn Keith, Hilary Melcarek, and Jan Perez.
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