The Political Ecology of the Local Food Movement in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Authors: Laura Grier*, University of Michigan
Topics: Agricultural Geography
Keywords: local food, farmer's market, food justice
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Roosevelt 7, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Activists and consumers often portray the local food movement in the United States as a means of resisting the injustices resulting from the global industrial food system. Such is the case in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a college town where local food production and consumption is held up as building tight-knit communities. In this paper, I seek to answer the question “Does the local food movement as a means of resistance to the global industrial food system bring about environmental justice in Ann Arbor, MI?” In doing so, I analyze the narrative of tight-knit community surrounding the local food movement of Ann Arbor. I first present the methods I used to perform such an analysis, which include a review of existing literature and participant observations. Next, I discuss the politics of the local food movement, analyzing it in terms of forces of capitalism, Marxism, and neoliberalism. Then, I present evidence of environmental injustices perpetuated by the local food movement including divisions along the lines of race and socioeconomic class. I conclude that the movement promotes slow violence and solutionism instead of environmental justice, as it is rather a self-serving system that grants certain actors power while continuing to limit access of other communities, all in the name of building community.

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