Local Food as Social Change: Food Sovereignty as a Radical New Ontology

Argumenta 2 (5):215-230 (2020)
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Abstract

Local food projects are steadily becoming a part of contemporary food systems and take on many forms. They are typically analyzed using an ethical, or sociopolitical, lens. Food focused initiatives can be understood as strategies to achieve ethical change in food systems and, as such, ethics play a guiding role. But local food is also a social movement and, thus social and political theories provide unique insights during analysis. This paper begins with the position that ontology should play a more prominent part in the analysis of local food movements, as this lens could provide unique insights into basic commitments guiding such initiatives. The paper presents the argument that ontological analyses are imperative for fully understanding local food movements. It then provides an overview of the justice frameworks and ontological orientations that guide two dominant types of initiatives: Those committed to increasing food security and those committed to food sovereignty. The paper ends with the argument that food sovereignty projects are revolutionary, not only because they challenge us to change industrial food practices, but also because they are built on a radical new political ontology, and co-constitutive food-focused orientation, that forms the foundation for alternative social and political structures.

Author's Profile

Samantha Noll
Washington State University

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