June 18 , 2013
The Rise of the Food Movement
We think of social movements as things that happen in specific times and places, but
most progressive change in society, around the world, is the result of social movement
activity. It‟s rare that governments make changes on their own- it‟s a result of people
mobilizing. The study of social movements is a way to understand why society is, how
we operate today. The reason we talk about climate change, carbon offsets, it‟s the result
of social movements.
• “specialized group formed outside the state and party system in an attempt to
promote or prevent social change”- we‟re not just talking about movements, but
groups that may support different aspects of it.
• Act within and beyond political channels (symbolic acts, direct action (protests,
sit-ins)). The same tactics that have been used historically are being used today.
Innovative movements such as internet petitions.
• Rooted in certain places and contexts (BUT act to mainstream, scale up). Promote
ideas or activities or actions that should be the mainstream (organic shouldn‟t be
a fringe idea).
They are not generally promoting the status quo, but challenging it, which is a
conflicting perspective. They typically emerge in certain times due to the social changes
and political conditions that make it possible. Space, place and environments has a huge
impact on where and why these groups form.
The suffrage movement inspired political talk around the world and inspired others,
such as women‟s rights –emerged in 1960‟s. There was a fight for more social and
reproductive rights. “The personal is political.”
The civil rights movement is another example. It included boycotts, sit-ins, voters
registration. People were jailed, beaten, murdered. It was important battle against
segregation. Black president is helping the civil rights movement.
WTO Global Justice: mass protest of the late 80‟s against the world national bank.
The G20 was an interesting case, but it‟s interesting the way they‟ve evolved, but the
ways the police react. Encouraged a broader global movement.
Occupy is criticized as not having a central voice, but it promoted rallying around
talks of income equality around the world and still exist.
What does this have to do with food?
• Important counterpoint to “consumer choice” discourse
• Governments influence quality, availability and access to food through their
(in)actions- 15% of all food purchased for U of T is bought at LocalFoods
• Farmers (and peasants) have played politically important roles in many contexts
• Emergence of the “food movement”
– Food Security- discourse that emerged in the 70‟s.
– Community food security (North America 1990s) – Food sovereignty (Global South 1990s) Peasant movement.
When we think about some of these problems, some of the first response seems to
be „buy organic, buy local‟. Changing the movement changes the way we talk about
responses. We now have collective behaviours, collective ways of approaching topics.
The “healthy at all sizes” argument is an example of challenging the ways we‟ve always
Alternative Food Initiatives
Initiatives that have come out of public interest and concern about questions
around the corporate-lead industrial food systems- things like health, democracy, issues
of social justice.
Seeks to build more viable and sustainable solutions. These initiatives range from
things to educating about food, theorizing new policy around food, attempting to connect
farmers to consumers.
Alternative Food Systems, Ethical Consumption and Food Citizenship
• Organics and Fair Trade- food produced in more agri-ecologically ways, without
pesticides and GMOs. Fair-trade coffee in Canada.
• Shortened supply chains
• Social embeddedness- key- symbolic piece. We look at building strong
interpersonal connections during the connections with small farmers and the
consumers. Nice markets, craft beers, wines from specific cheeses, bread.
Agroecology- producing small-scale.
New supply networks- you apply for a season and get a box of produce.
Food share has purchased a box and made a mobile market, making fresh produce
accessible to urban areas.
Urban agriculture is an emergence of people growing food in the city.
Community Food Centres (and Hubs)- FoodShare is an example of the hub. Working to
build a movement, mobilizing with other people to change policy and change
Food Policy Councils and Roundtables- Working to both challenge and work with
government to achieve change.
Why „alternative‟ is not enoug