Opening Spaces through Relocalization: Locating Potential Resistance in the Weaknesses of the Global Food System
Sociologia Ruralis Volume 42, Issue 4, pages 347–369, October 2002
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In this paper we explore several themes based on our intertwined research and outreach activities. First, we examine and discuss emerging global food chains that are embedded in strategic alliances, joint ventures and relationships – in short in networks of power. Decisions are being displaced away from multiple actors situated in different localities to globalized decision–making located within a few firms that make up each cluster. While the roots of these phenomena are firmly grounded in long–term historical processes, it is important to document and understand what is emerging at the global level in order to create alternatives. Second, we discuss our outreach work with farmers, consumers and communities in helping them to frame and understand the changes that are taking place in the food and agriculture system. This is exemplified through a case study of the Kansas City Food Circle and its role in generating alternative visions from the consumption side of the food equation. This work is extremely important for challenging the global food system, and also for helping to empower farmers, eaters and communities to create alternatives. We lay out an analytical understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the global system, and the opportunities found in the social, environmental and economic failures of the global system. In conclusion, the work described above rests on the recognition of different forms of agency that are appearing in the food system, agency that is located within the spaces provided by the unsustainable, unjust nature of the global system. We remain cognizant of the incredible networks of power that shape the production and consumption relationships in the food system. However, we remain hopeful that models of emerging alternatives can help relocalize production/consumption relationships in the food system in equitable ways. In other words, in relationships that are personalized and sustainable, and that are embedded in place and community.