Reassessing the place of food in the 'urban social metabolism'

Authors: Estefania Martinez Esguerra*, Université de Montréal
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Urban Geography, Rural Geography
Keywords: Food, Nature, Social metabolism, Capital and Labour, Neoliberalism, Right to the City
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: 8210, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This presentation makes a critique of current literature on food sovereignty, alternative networks of food (ANF) and other initiatives aimed to changing food systems in the city drawing mainly from evidences of the growing mobilization to counteract the widespread effects of the neoliberal expansion of the agri-food industry in Canada, UK, and the US. This movement has incorporated 'food sovereignty sensibilities' from the Global South into growing social concerns associated to the impacts of processed foods on health, the inequalities in the access to nutritious diets and the greater concern for environmental issues in urban settlements of the Global North. The argument, according to which the production/ consumption of food might be liberated from the grips of a highly globalized agri-food industry by means of urban agriculture and other ANF thus recovering the local character of food and enhancing community values and environmental care, is challenged utilizing analytical elements from urban political ecology and political economy of food. Whereas urban political ecology criticizes the dualistic view on nature/society existing in mainstream urban studies and evidences the processes of uneven geographical development that interact in the urban metabolism, political economy of food sheds light on the embeddedness of food in global value relations and on the relationship of capital with labour. Reassessing the place of food in these dynamics might contribute repoliticising food in urban struggles above perspectives that simply vindicate the right to food as the private right to choose and grow its own food.

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