From Farmers to Foodies: Healing the Metabolic Rift Between Hudson Valley Farms and New York City

Authors: Robin Lovell*, Manhattan College
Topics: food systems, Cultural and Political Ecology, Ethnicity and Race
Keywords: Sustainable food systems, metabolic rift, boutique farms
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Congressional B, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


As part of a “relocalization” effort aimed at combatting globalization, boutique agricultural products have allowed increasingly environmentally friendly farming practice adoption. Pathways between urban residents and nearby agricultural spaces and products can serve to “de-alienate” city dwellers from their food and heal the metabolic rift (a disruption of social, ecological, knowledge, and commodity flows) that occurs with an increasingly industrialized agriculture. It can help create “food citizens” that understand the impact and importance of food choices, and continually make sustainable choices. This work explores how local rural identities are tied to (or divorced from) sustainable farming practice adoption in the Hudson Valley of New York, and how that knowledge is then imparted to New York City country visitors. Using an intersectional approach, the research why farmers choose to adopt environmentally friendly practices, and the tangible and intangible benefits these practices have on their lived experiences. Similarly, this work explores visitor’s experiences at local farms (e.g. apple-picking, farm-to-table dining, educational farms) to elucidate the connection between the rural and the urban. Findings indicate that there are a wide variety of experiences in the Hudson Valley, from the increasingly expensive boutique farm enclave that creates barriers for precisely the urban population that needs food system knowledge the most, catering to affluent New York urbanites, to the deeply committed non-profit educational farms that explicitly reach out to inner city youth. Indeed, some outfits are more effective than others at disseminating knowledge to potential food citizens.

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