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Cultivating Food Justice

Race, Class, and Sustainability

edited by Alison Hope Alkon and Julian Agyeman

Publication Year: 2011

Documents how racial and social inequalities are built into our food system, and how communities are creating environmentally sustainable and socially just alternatives.

Published by: The MIT Press

Series: Food, Health, and the Environment


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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Series Foreword

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pp. ix-x

I am pleased to present the seventh book in the Food, Health, and the Environment series. This series explores the global and local dimensions of food systems and examines issues of access, justice, and environmental and community well-being. It includes books that focus on the way food is grown, processed, manufactured, distributed, sold, and consumed. ...

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pp. xi-xiv

In this book, a key concept is positionality, the understanding that our life experiences and practices are deeply entangled with the ways we see the world. Given the importance of this idea to our work, it seems appropriate to share something about the journeys that have led to the production of this book while acknowledging those who have helped cultivate our thinking. ...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-20

Picture a field of corn stretching out into the horizon. Each evenly spaced stalk is genetically identical. Each needs exactly the same amount of water, fertilizer, sunlight, and time as every other. And each is ready for harvest at exactly the same moment. For this reason, the cultivation and collection of this field can be entirely mechanized. ...

I: The Production of Unequal Access

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2. A Continuing Legacy: Institutional Racism, Hunger, and Nutritional Justice on the Klamath

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pp. 23-46

Karuk people have relied directly on the land and rivers of the Klamath Mountains for food since “time immemorial.” So vast was the abundance of salmon, sturgeon, steelhead, lamprey, and forest food resources that the Karuk were among the wealthiest people in the region that would become known as California. ...

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3. From the Past to the Present: Agricultural Development and Black Farmers in the American South

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pp. 47-64

Action to achieve social justice in agrifood systems should be informed by research from a variety of perspectives. Yet, in scholarly literature concerning changes in American agrifood systems, minority producers and their communities have received limited attention. ...

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4. Race and Regulation: Asian Immigrants in California Agriculture

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pp. 65-86

How do state agricultural policies affect both access to material resources and the construction of racial identities? In this chapter, we trace the effects of such policies on three Asian immigrant groups. Working-class Chinese were the first to be barred from legal immigration through the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. ...

II: Consumption Denied

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5. From Industrial Garden to Food Desert: Demarcated Devaluation in the Flatlands of Oakland, California

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pp. 89-120

A dilapidated liquor store stands at the corner of 17th and Center in West Oakland. With its plastic sign cracked and yellowed, its paint pockmarked and peeling away in long lesions from the store’s warped clapboard siding, it could be a clichéd metaphor for the decay of America’s “inner cities” during the postindustrial era (figure 5.1). ...

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6. Farmworker Food Insecurity and the Production of Hunger in California

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pp. 121-146

This chapter takes as its point of departure an apparent contradiction of contemporary U.S. agriculture, namely, that those who produce our nation’s food are among the most likely to be hungry or food insecure. For those familiar with farmworker communities, this irony comes as little surprise. ...

III: Will Work for Food Justice

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7. Growing Food and Justice: Dismantling Racism through Sustainable Food Systems

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pp. 149-176

Awareness of food and nutrition problems facing Americans has grown rapidly over the past five years, fueled by the writings of many including Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver, the wide release of films like Super Size Me and Fast Food Nation, and the contributions of celebrity chefs such as Alice Waters and Odessa Piper ...

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8. Community Food Security “For Us, By Us”: The Nation of Islam and the Pan African Orthodox Christian Church

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pp. 177-196

This excerpt is from Black Christian Nationalism written by Albert Cleage. In it he describes his beliefs and methods on how blacks should empower themselves in what he deems to be a white supremacist society. This book also provides an ideal starting point for exploring how two Black Nationalist religious organizations ...

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9. Environmental and Food Justice: Toward Local, Slow, and Deep Food Systems

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pp. 197-220

Recently, the second author had a fascinating conversation with an acquaintance who identifies as a vegan activist. Living in the Pacific Northwest, she is highly committed to the Slow Food Movement and explained her philosophy of the connections between slow and local food: ...

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10. Vegans of Color, Racialized Embodiment,and Problematics of the “ Exotic ”

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pp. 221-238

In 2007, Johanna, a vegan and woman of color, established an online forum called Vegans of Color. Resisting mainstream notions of veganism as separate from race/racism/racialization, the founder of the group stated: “ This blog was started to give a voice to vegans of color. ...

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11. Realizing Rural Food Justice

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pp. 239-260

The local food movement has experienced wide-scale buy-in across the United States with advocates promoting the social, economic, and environmental benefits of local food initiatives. Although these initiatives may have experienced some success in promoting sustainable farming methods and supporting local farmers, ...

IV: Future Directions

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12. “If They Only Knew”: The Unbearable Whiteness of Alternative Food

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pp. 263-282

“If people only knew where their food came from. . . .” This phrase resounds in alternative food movements. My students voice it in the classroom, and it is often the first sentence of papers they write. It undergirds many of the efforts of local food system activists, who focus a good deal of effort in encouraging more personalized relationships between producers and consumers. ...

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13. Just Food?

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pp. 283-308

In 2002, the title for the Community Food Security Coalition Conference in Seattle was “Think Globally, Act Locally.” In 2010, the title for the New Orleans conference is “ Food, Culture and Justice: The Gumbo that Unites Us All. ” ...

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14. Food Security, Food Justice, or Food Sovereignty?: Crises, Food Movements, and Regime Change

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pp. 309-330

2008 saw record levels of hunger for the world’s poor at a time of record harvests and record profits for the world’s major agrifoods corporations. The contradiction of increasing hunger in the midst of wealth and abundance unleashed a flurry of worldwide “food riots” not seen for many decades. ...

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15. Conclusion: Cultivating the Fertile Field of Food Justice

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pp. 331-348

The central message of this book is that institutional racism intersects with an increasingly consolidated industrial agriculture to produce a variety of negative consequences for low-income people and people of color, and that an analysis of these processes can produce a broader critique of agribusiness than is currently offered by the food movement. ...

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List of Contributors

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pp. 349-350

Julian Agyeman is professor and chair of urban and environmental policy and planning at Tufts University. He is author/editor of nine books including Sustainable Communities and the Challenge of Environmental Justice and Environmental Injustice across Borders: Local Perspectives on Global Inequities. ...


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pp. 351-390

E-ISBN-13: 9780262300216
E-ISBN-10: 0262300214
Print-ISBN-13: 9780262516327
Print-ISBN-10: 0262516322

Page Count: 404
Illustrations: 16 figures, 5 tables
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Food, Health, and the Environment
Series Editor Byline: Robert Gottlieb See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 767579490
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Cultivating Food Justice

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Food consumption -- United States.
  • Minorities -- Nutrition -- United States.
  • Poor -- Nutrition -- United States.
  • African American -- Nutrition.
  • Discrimination -- United States.
  • Social justice -- United States.
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