THE VITALITY OF EVERYDAY FOOD

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This was originally posted on ILEIA‘s website. It was written by  Stephen SherwoodMyriam Paredes and Alberto Arce who have edited a new book ‘Agriculture, Food, and Social Change: The Everyday Vitality of Latin America’ (UK: Routledge/Earthscan Press). I have co-authored a chapter in this book that I will summarise in a later post.


A great deal of energy has been invested in attempts to influence the thinking in science and government on the problems of industrial food and the benefits of agroecology and food sovereignty. Meanwhile, people everywhere take responsibility for creating the changes they want to see through daily food practices in their families, neighbourhoods and social networks. In addition to organising for ‘resistance’, we call for greater attention to the latent potential in daily living and being, or existence.

A popular ‘trueque’ or barter trade event in northern Ecuador, where people exchange their goods without the use of money. Photo: Colectivo Agroecólogio

We all have a serious problem when people’s most basic activity – eating – undermines their ability to exist. Yet this is precisely what we have achieved with the advent of modern food. Through the pursuit of cheap food as a ‘good’, we have generated a series of unwanted ‘bads’, such as mass destruction of soils and water systems, erosion of agrobiodiversity, and widescale sickness and death by pesticides, not to mention the constitution of two, rampant pandemics: overweight/obesity and global warming/climate change. Fortunately, growing awareness of the contradictions of modern food is sparking lively counter movements.

We challenge the widespread preoccupation over how agriculture, food, and development should be. Instead, we focus on how everyday experience in agriculture and food is. The work of social movements in the Americas leads us to call attention to the forces of change in people’s everyday encounters with food – not as characterised in concept, but rather as embodied in practice. Continue reading “THE VITALITY OF EVERYDAY FOOD”

Understanding Sustainable Food System Transitions: Practice, Assessment and Governance

SoRo Sustainable Food Transitions

I am very pleased to share that a new special issue of Sociologia Ruralis edited by Damian Maye and me is now online: Understanding Sustainable Food System Transitions: Practice, Assessment and Governance.

The Special Issue provides theoretical insights and advancements into sustainability transitions through empirically grounded and informed investigations of food system practices. The papers confirm, following Hinrichs (2014, p. 143), that ‘numerous opportunities exist to forge more productive links between work on food systems change and the broad and growing sustainability transitions field’.

The Special Issue brings together 8 articles grouped together around two themes:

  1.  Examining relations between AFN practices and transition;
  2. Opening up measures and assessment practices for sustainability transitions.

Taken as a whole, the Special Issue advances discussions and thinking on alternative food practices and sustainability, opening up the debate not only on how to identify and analyse ‘alternative food practices’ in Europe, and beyond, but also on sustainability assessment metrics, governance processes and what counts as ‘sustainable’ in sustainability transitions.

Contents of the Special Issue

Understanding Sustainable Food System Transitions: Practice, Assessment and Governance Damian Maye and Jessica Duncan

Theme 1: Examining Relations Between AFN Practices and Transition

Theme 2: Opening Up Measures and Assessment Practices for Sustainable Food Transitions

Amsterdam Symposium on History of Food 2017: Making Sense of Taste

Registration is now open for the Amsterdam Symposium on History of Food 2017: Making Sense of Taste

Friday 17 November – Saturday 18 November 2017
Venue: Aula of the University of Amsterdam

Registration is now open on this website. We kindly invite you to register now. Do you have any questions? Please contact us.

Topic
From which angle does a scholar approach the concept of taste? Is it primarily an objective, chemical quality, or should it be considered a product of culture? And are these perspectives wholly incompatible? The physical quality and flavour of food and drink preoccupy molecular biologists, gastronomic professionals, and bon vivants. Chemists, among others, construe classification systems, aspiring to help us understand the complexity and the possibilities of flavour. Mediators and their audiences may oftentimes embrace subjectivity, by detailing their intimate and embodied experience of taste. Neither approach is new: historically, classification systems have had major cultural and religious significance, whereas the conception of ‘good’ food – as opposed to ‘bad’ food – and its application in mechanisms of social distinction is at least as old as class-based societies themselves. Clearly, discussions about taste have always been informed by an array of physiological and psychological experiences, not just our palates.

Open access to special issue: Soy production in South America

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The Journal of Peasant Studies has just published a new Special Issues: Soy production in South America: Globalization and New Agroindustrial Landscapes. The Guest editors are Gustavo de L. T. Oliveira and Susanna B. Hecht.

The entire collection (15 articles) is freely available for a limited time!

 

Summary of the Issue:

Soy in South America constitutes one of the most spectacular booms of agroindustrial commodity production in the world. It is the pinnacle of modernist agroindustrial practices, serving as a key nexus in food-feed-fuel production that underpins the agribusiness-conservationist discourse of “land sparing” through intensification. Yet soy production is implicated in multiple problems beyond deforestation, ranging from pesticide drift and contamination, social exclusion and conflicts in frontier zones, concentration of wealth and income among the largest landowners and corporations. This volume explores in depth the complex dynamics of soy production from its diverse social settings to its transnational connections, examining the politics of commodity and knowledge production, the role of the state, and the reach of corporate power in everyday life across soy landscapes in South America. Ultimately, the collection encourages us to search and struggle for agroecological alternatives through which we may overcome the pitfalls of this massive transnational capitalist agroindustry.

NEW: Routledge Handbook of Food and Nutrition Security

9781138817197The Routledge Handbook of Food and Nutrition Security has just been published.

The Handbook was edited by Bill Pritchard, Rodomiro Ortiz and Meera Shekar and includes great contributions.

Overview:
The concept of food and nutrition security has evolved and risen to the top of the international policy agenda over the last decade. Yet it is a complex and multi-faceted issue, requiring a broad and inter-disciplinary perspective for full understanding. This Handbook represents the most comprehensive compilation of our current knowledge of food and nutrition security from a global perspective. It is organized to reflect the wide scope of the contents, its four sections corresponding to the accepted current definitional frameworks prevailing in the work of multilateral agencies and mainstream scholarship.

The first section addresses the struggles and progression of ideas and debates about the subject in recent years. The other sections focus on three key themes: how food has been, is and should be made available, including by improvements in agricultural productivity; the ways in which politico-economic and social arenas have shaped access to food; and the effects of food and nutrition systems in addressing human health, known as food utilisation. Overall, the volume synthesizes a vast field of information drawn from agriculture, soil science, climatology, economics, sociology, human and physical geography, the nutrition and health sciences, environmental science and development studies.

For more information, including a discount code! check out this PDF Routledge Handbook of Food and Nutrition Security (2)

Call for Papers – Reclaiming the political: Reflections on the tactics and strategies of actors in the quest for just and sustainable food governance

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Abstract:

Food security is a “wicked” development problem which is deeply political and for which there is no single solution. Re-imagining how to reshape the existing governance arrangements that have facilitated a world where more than one billion people are obese, and almost another one billion are under-nourished at a time of increased resource scarcity and climate change, requires deliberate and committed politicization of related policies.

One challenge is that while development is inherently political the governance arrangements (formal and informal) that coordinate development practices are often organised in ways that have de-policising effects. More concretely, when it comes to food security governance trends towards multi-stakeholder platforms, data-driven indicators with related monitoring and evaluation frameworks, and consensus-based decision-making processes, serve to conceal relations of power and the agendas of particular actors in the name of consultation, technocracy, and democracy.

This panel invites papers that:

– Identify and analyse ways in which actors, especially civil society and social movements insert politics and issues of power into governance spaces;

– Reflect on similarities, differences and interconnections across the practices, tactics and strategies used by actors to politicise the space and to push for alternatives to the dominant food systems.

– Comment and advance theorizing on emerging trends across the debates of food governance and the potential of civil society to envisage alternative scenarios and affect the policy process.

For more information, and to submit an abstract click here

Call for papers is 21 March to 25 April, so submit soon!

#DSA2016