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Compounding crises of economic recession and food insecurity: a comparative study of three low-income communities in Santa Barbara County


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  • Megan Carney


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    Santa Barbara County exhibits some of the highest rates of food insecurity in California, as well as in the United States. Through ethnographic research of three low-income, predominantly Latino communities in Santa Barbara County, this study examined the degree to which households had been experiencing heightened levels of food insecurity since the economic recession and ensuing coping strategies, including gender-specific repercussions and coping strategies. Methods included administering a survey with 150 households and conducting observation and unstructured interviews at various local food-centered venues. Results indicated that households from the three communities were experiencing heightened levels of food insecurity and that all three communities were employing diversification of procurement, adjustments to a reduced or limited food budget, reliance on food assistance, and revitalization of the home as a site of domestic food production and preparation as coping strategies. The results also suggested that women suffered disproportionately higher psychological and physical costs associated with compounding crises. In conclusion, the experiences narrated by low-income households reflect a form of citizenship that appears compromised by a host of variables perceived to exist outside the realm of local control. Shifting toward an operational framework of food sovereignty may allow these communities to become more resilient in the face of future political, environmental, social, and economic stressors. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Springer in its journal Agriculture and Human Values.

    Volume (Year): 29 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 2 (June)
    Pages: 185-201

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    Handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:29:y:2012:i:2:p:185-201

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    Keywords: Household food security; Community food security; Food sovereignty; Gendered cost of food;


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    1. Mancino, Lisa & Newman, Constance, 2007. "Who Has Time To Cook? How Family Resources Influence Food Preparation," Economic Research Report 55961, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
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    3. Nord, Mark & Andrews, Margaret S. & Carlson, Steven, 2009. "Household Food Security in the United States, 2008," Economic Research Report 55953, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    4. Gladwin, Christina H. & Thomson, Anne M. & Peterson, Jennifer S. & Anderson, Andrea S., 2001. "Addressing food security in Africa via multiple livelihood strategies of women farmers," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 177-207, April.
    5. Molly Anderson, 2008. "Rights-based food systems and the goals of food systems reform," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 25(4), pages 593-608, December.
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    7. JoAnn Jaffe & Michael Gertler, 2006. "Victual Vicissitudes: Consumer Deskilling and the (Gendered) Transformation of Food Systems," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 143-162, 06.
    8. Hoppe, Robert A. & MacDonald, James M. & Korb, Penelope J., 2010. "Small Farms in the United States: Persistence Under Pressure," Economic Information Bulletin 58300, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
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    10. anonymous, 1997. "CRA reform: the first year," Banking and Community Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, issue 1, pages 6-8.
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