Food Utopias: Reimagining citizenship, ethics, and community
Paul Stock, Michael Carolan and Christopher Rosin
Food is a contentious and emotive issue, subject to critiques from multiple perspectives. Alternative food movements – including the different articulations of local, food miles, seasonality, food justice, food knowledge and food sovereignty – consistently invoke themes around autonomy, sufficiency, cooperation, mutual aid, freedom, and responsibility.
In this stimulating and provocative book the authors link these issues to utopias and intentional communities. Using a food utopias framework presented in the introduction, they examine food stories in three interrelated and complementary ways: utopias as critique of existing systems; utopias as engagement with experimentation of the novel, the forgotten, and the hopeful in the future of the food system; and utopias as process that recognizes the time and difficulty inherent in changing the status quo.
The chapters address theoretical aspects of food utopias and also present case studies from a range of contexts and regions, including Argentina, Italy, Switzerland and USA. These focus on key issues in contemporary food studies including equity, locality, the sacred, citizenship, community and food sovereignty. Food utopias offers ways forward to imagine a creative and convivial food system.
Fair and ethical trade is often criticized for being highly gendered, and for institutionalizing the ethical values of consumers, the priorities of NGOs and governments, and most of all, food retailers. But little is known about how women smallholder farmers experience diverse ethical standards, or whether and how standards reflect their values, local cultural and environmental contexts, or priorities for achieving sustainable livelihoods.
Linking gender, smallholder livelihoods and global ethical trade regulations, this book reveals that multiple understandings of social justice, environmental sustainability and well-being – or ethicality – exist in parallel to those institutionalized in ethical trade schemes. Through an in-depth case study of smallholder subsistence and French bean farming in Kenya, the book grounds the analysis of livelihoods, gender and ethical trade in women smallholders’ perspectives, links the macro level of markets with the micro level of livelihoods, and engenders relations of power, structure and agency in food networks. It brings together disparate bodies of theory to illustrate the knowledge, strategies and values of women smallholder farmers that are often beyond the scope of ethical trade regulations. It also provides a challenging new vision for doing food systems research.
Community Gardening as Social Action
Series : Transforming Environmental Politics and Policy: 2
There has been a resurgence of community gardening over the past decade with a wide range of actors seeking to get involved, from health agencies aiming to increase fruit and vegetable consumption to radical social movements searching for symbols of non-capitalist ways of relating and occupying space. Community gardens have become a focal point for local activism in which people are working to contribute to food security, question the erosion of public space, conserve and improve urban environments, develop technologies of sustainable food production, foster community engagement and create neighbourhood solidarity.
Drawing on in-depth case studies and social movement theory, Claire Nettle provides a new empirical and theoretical understanding of community gardening as a site of collective social action. This provides not only a more nuanced and complete understanding of community gardening, but also highlights its potential challenges to notions of activism, community, democracy and culture.
Contents: Community gardening: from leisure to social action; Garden views: seeing community gardens as sites of social change; Theorising collective action; Community gardening as activism; In the garden; Growing community; Creation: the politics of direct action and prefiguration; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.
About the Author: Claire Nettle PhD is a community food systems researcher and consultant.
Reviews: ‘By showing that community gardening is often a deeply political act this book offers a profound challenge to dominant accounts of social movement activism. Nettle shows that community gardening is more than a cultural challenge and does not mean a retreat from real politics, rather it is a specific form of prefigurative activism intended to build communities anew. It is essential reading for all those with an interest in a deeper understanding of the relationship between activist strategies and everyday life practices.’
Brian Doherty, Keele University, UK