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From value to values: sustainable consumption at farmers markets

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  • Alison Alkon

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Abstract

Advocates of environmental sustainability and social justice increasingly pursue their goals through the promotion of so-called “green” products such as locally grown organic produce. While many scholars support this strategy, others criticize it harshly, arguing that environmental degradation and social injustice are inherent results of capitalism and that positive social change must be achieved through collective action. This study draws upon 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork at two farmers markets located in demographically different parts of the San Francisco Bay Area to examine how market managers, vendors, and regular customers negotiate tensions between their economic strategies and environmental sustainability and social justice goals. Managers, vendors, and customers emphasize the ethical rather than financial motivations of their markets through comparisons to capitalist, industrial agriculture and through attention to perceived economic sacrifices made by market vendors. They also portray economic strategies as a pragmatic choice, pointing to failed efforts to achieve justice and sustainability through policy change as well as difficulties funding and sustaining non-profit organizations. While market managers, vendors, and customers deny any difficulties pursuing justice and sustainability through local economics, the need for vendors to sustain their livelihoods does sometimes interfere with their social justice goals. This has consequences for the function of each market. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Suggested Citation

  • Alison Alkon, 2008. "From value to values: sustainable consumption at farmers markets," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 25(4), pages 487-498, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:25:y:2008:i:4:p:487-498
    DOI: 10.1007/s10460-008-9136-y
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Klonsky, Karen & Greene, Catherine R., 2005. "Widespread Adoption of Organic Agriculture in the US: Are Market-Driven Policies Enough?," 2005 Annual meeting, July 24-27, Providence, RI 19382, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    2. Laura DeLind, 2002. "Place, work, and civic agriculture: Common fields for cultivation," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 19(3), pages 217-224, September.
    3. Jack Kloppenburg & John Hendrickson & G. Stevenson, 1996. "Coming in to the foodshed," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 13(3), pages 33-42, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:gam:jsusta:v:11:y:2019:i:11:p:3224-:d:238747 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Carrie Furman & Carla Roncoli & Donald Nelson & Gerrit Hoogenboom, 2014. "Growing food, growing a movement: climate adaptation and civic agriculture in the southeastern United States," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 31(1), pages 69-82, March.
    3. Ryan Gunderson, 2014. "Problems with the defetishization thesis: ethical consumerism, alternative food systems, and commodity fetishism," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 31(1), pages 109-117, March.
    4. repec:spr:agrhuv:v:34:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10460-016-9753-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Catarina Passidomo, 2014. "Whose right to (farm) the city? Race and food justice activism in post-Katrina New Orleans," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 31(3), pages 385-396, September.
    6. Diana Mincyte, 2012. "How milk does the world good: vernacular sustainability and alternative food systems in post-socialist Europe," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 29(1), pages 41-52, March.
    7. Jonnell A. Robinson & Evan Weissman & Susan Adair & Matthew Potteiger & Joaquin Villanueva, 2016. "An oasis in the desert? The benefits and constraints of mobile markets operating in Syracuse, New York food deserts," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 33(4), pages 877-893, December.
    8. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:11:p:1958-:d:116729 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Bignell, Wesley, 2011. "Comparing Locally Oriented and Mainstream Farming: Observations from the Oregon Blueberry Industry," Western Economics Forum, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 10(2), pages 1-9.
    10. repec:spr:agrhuv:v:34:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10460-017-9774-z is not listed on IDEAS
    11. repec:spr:agrhuv:v:35:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10460-017-9797-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Daniel Block & Noel Chávez & Erika Allen & Dinah Ramirez, 2012. "Food sovereignty, urban food access, and food activism: contemplating the connections through examples from Chicago," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 29(2), pages 203-215, June.
    13. Szabó, Dorottya & Juhász, Anikó, 2015. "Consumers’ and producers’ perceptions of markets: service levels of the most important short food supply chains in Hungary," Studies in Agricultural Economics, Research Institute for Agricultural Economics, vol. 117(2), pages 1-8, August.
    14. Martha A. Starr, 2015. "The Economics of Ethical Consumption," Working Papers 2015-01, American University, Department of Economics.
    15. repec:spr:agrhuv:v:35:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10460-017-9800-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Rachel A. Carson & Zoe Hamel & Kelly Giarrocco & Rebecca Baylor & Leah Greden Mathews, 2016. "Buying in: the influence of interactions at farmers’ markets," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 33(4), pages 861-875, December.
    17. Sacchi, Giovanna, 2017. "Italian Political Consumption Attitude Through Food Purchasing Choices: A Qualitative Analysis," 2017 International Congress, August 28-September 1, 2017, Parma, Italy 261164, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    18. Zhenzhong Si & Theresa Schumilas & Steffanie Scott, 2015. "Characterizing alternative food networks in China," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 32(2), pages 299-313, June.

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