Place, Identity and Justice in the Jewish Food Movement

Authors: Steven Silvern*, Salem State University
Topics: Cultural Geography, Ethnic Geography, Agricultural Geography
Keywords: food movement, Jewish, cultural geography, identity, place, food justice
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Studio 9, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The last twenty have witnessed the emergence and growth of “the food movement” that aims to transform the industrial food system, supporting the growth of locally sourced and organically grown produce and animals. Much of the geographical and agro-food studies literature is silent on the relationship of the food movement to ethno-religious groups and ethno-religious community identity formation. Missing is attention to how ethno-religious communities engage in sustainable and food justice activism and how ethno-religious identities are both expressed and are constructed in relationship to the food movement. In particular, there has been little attention to how the American Jewish community engages with the food movement and constructs Jewish identity in relation to food sustainability, the geographical scale of sustainable food production and consumption, and food justice. The aim of this presentation is to explore the American Jewish community’s engagement with the food movement. I historically and socially contextualize what is called the “Jewish Food Movement,” identifying historical antecedents, key actors and organizations. I examine the Movement’s sustainable and food justice discourse, elucidating how place, Jewish identities, and food justice are constructed by the Movement in relation to “traditional” Jewish concepts of social and economic justice, place (localism/globalism) and both traditional and secular discourses of sustainability and food justice. My project seeks to create a productive dialogue and engagement between critical food studies, people-environment and place studies in geography, and the study of place, environment, and Jewish identity formation in Jewish studies.

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