Just got the word that my paper presentation was accepted by the Food and Culture division of the Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Culture Association (MAPACA). Thinking about a weekend trip in November to attend MAPACA’s 2014 Conference in Baltimore makes me realize just how long it has been since I visited Charm City, a place I used to consider an annex of my DC stomping grounds. Thoroughly looking forward to it and, of course, all suggestions for places to get a tasty or interesting bite are welcomed! Details on the paper below:
The Orthodoxy of the Farmers Market: Popular Constructions of the Green Economy, Poverty Alleviation, and the Question of Urban Food Sovereignty
In recent years, farmers markets have been widely understood to be solutions to many of the complex social challenges embedded within in a flawed American agri-food system. The farmers market as a cultural institution, unique urban geography, and economic formation has been situated at the intersection of discourses about food insecurity and environmental degradation—often as a solution that is mutually beneficial for sellers, consumers, and the urban locales in which markets are frequently organized. However, farmers markets largely maintain dependencies upon cultural-economic techniques of valuation that are structured by a capitalist profit imperative, effectively limiting their ability to embody the radically progressive politics that are central to the food and environmental justice movements. This paper argues that popular constructions of the farmers market represent an orthodoxy that has significantly constrained the public and activist imagination with regard to developing more effective food-based poverty alleviation strategies and meaningful interventions in the unsustainability of urban ecologies.