Participation and Investment in Local Agriculture: What's in a Community?
Keywords:Community Supported Agriculture, Food Justice, Food Systems, Local Food
AbstractThis commentary highlights how participation and investment in local food systems vary between differently situated actors in Alaska, with an emphasis on communities in the interior of the state. Our experiences with various food system research projects over the last five years have revealed several exclusionary and inclusionary practices and policies that call into question shared notions of community among local food producers and consumers. We note the different motivations and discourses that producers and consumers construct for themselves and each other regarding their participation in local food movements. Tension and frictions exist in these multilayered foodscapes where cultural values of community, as imagined by both producers and consumers, confront the reality of market interactions. Hence, rather than producing a unified narrative of sustainability that is agreed upon by all members of some imagined community, we suggest that future food system research and development initiatives should be open to how foodscapes will and must remain contested landscapes whose contours are ever shifting. The alternative, we argue, is to perpetuate a façade of food system reform that, while sufficient for some, will remain vulnerable to external criticism by those who continue to promote only large-scale and industrial paradigms.
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