Supporting Local Food: Opposition to Globalization or Capitalism? Key Words: Localization, Scale, Embeddedness
Supporting Local Food: Opposition to Globalization or Capitalism? - 2 Introduction
The local food movement is an expression of resistance to industrial capitalist agriculture but is often confused seen as an appropriate method of resisting globalization as well. There are a variety of values often merged within the idea of local that are not necessarily the product, goal or benefits of the movement. Local food has recently become very popular in many parts of Canada, the United States and many parts of Europe and some of the more popular expressions of it are through an emergence of farmers markets, community supported agriculture, and the 100 mile diet. This essay will explore some of the many things that must be considered before supporting local agricultural movements. The first part will briefly look at the current industrial capitalist food system and discuss the issue of scale. The discourse will continue by addressing common perceptions associated with local food. Environmental effects related to the transportation and production methods used by agriculture systems is one of the most common concerns allied with the local food movement. Finally issues relating to consumer practices and the concept of embeddedness of the market in society. The Capitalist Food System and Globalization
Agriculture has been the economic foundation of most societies for thousands of years. The collection and production of food has always had a significant and special place in human activity. Because of the importance of food, agricultural practices have been constantly changing in order to find the best ways of supplying the sustenance people require. Probably the most significant change in agricultural production began to take place in 1945, with what has become commonly referred to as the green revolution. Essentially, the green revolution transformed the agricultural sector in many parts of the world into a capitalist, industrialized system. Hobsbawm (1975) describes how the capitalization of agriculture has eliminated local and seasonal shortages of food products and has equalized dramatic differences in food prices in many parts of the world where corporate farming is practiced (Winter, 2003. P.23). Supporting Local Food: Opposition to Globalization or Capitalism? - 3 Industrial and capitalist food systems have created many problems while seeking to provide cheap, plentiful, convenient sources of food. The food supply has been slowly losing nutritional value due to the current industrial farming practices while fat and sodium levels are dramatically increasing (Pawlick, 2006. P.27). As Pawlick (2006) points out, one of the most striking examples of how the industrialization of the food system has negatively affected health and nutrition is the meat industry. The centralization and scale of poultry and beef farming has led to an increase of fat and sodium levels, the decrease of mineral content, and the evolution of diseases such as BSE and FMD in livestock (p.114). Another major concern generated by the industrial food complex is the negative environmental impacts. Mono-cropping, the prevalent use of chemical sprays and genetically modified varieties and poor water management are just a few of the practices that are poisoning the soil, water and creating new ‘super’ weeds and bugs that threaten the food industry (ibid. P.124). Despite the indisputable negative impacts the current industrial agricultural complex has had on the physical environment, we can never expect capitalist agriculture to be concerned with the environment or the quality and health of food any more than concern for these will affect their profits (Pawlick, 2006. & Goodman, 1999). While examining various difficulties and problems associated with large scale capitalist farming, one of the major critiques is that most big agricultural ventures receive...
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