The Politics of Building Alternative Agro-food Networks in the Belly of Agro-industry

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Alternative food production and provisioning efforts are variable and their success also varies across regions. In particular, rural areas characterized by large-scale, agro-industrial forms face challenges in reconnecting resident consumers with local producers that are less apparent in urban and ex-urban areas. Our case study situates these challenges in two globalized, agro-industrial counties in rural, central Washington State. In order to understand the contemporary viability of alternative agro-food networks, we suggest attention to regional agro-political discourse and agro-industrial history. With a focus on organic production, direct marketing, and community-supported agriculture (CSA), we investigate how regional politics can hamper or hasten the growth of alternatives in terms of food provisioning. Using archival, interview, and survey data, we find that the transformative capacity of alternative food networks is locally contingent, shaped by political ideologies and consumer acceptance of existing social constructions of agricultural systems.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2005

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