Food Policy Councils in the Mid-Atlantic: Working Toward Justice
Moral political action within a food system is vital to human health and survival in the Anthropocene. Over the last 20 years, the alternative food movement has unpacked what that moral food system looks like, and how people either participate or are marginalized in various food systems. Largely overlooked in the alternative food discourse is the role of food policy councils (FPCs) in promoting, planning, and advocating for a regional food system that serves and supports its people. Researchers at Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future put the number of FPCs in North America at 282 in 2015, a more than 650 percent increase over the previous decade (Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, 2015). While the basic design of an FPC is often standard—a locally minded group of stakeholders recommending changes to food policy—the groups are often structured in different ways. This paper uses a mixed-methods approach, including participant interviews and website analysis, to study FPCs from the mid-Atlantic region of the United States and look at how their structure affects their emphasis on food justice. In an age of crippling food insecurity, diet-related diseases, corporate hegemony, and food injustice, communities are looking for greater control of their regional food system; local FPCs can serve as a central hub for people to engage in food politics and enact change.
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