Wednesday, 12 September 2012

This abstract was for a conference in Canada in 2006. I was supposed to go back to the US either to university or to pack. Then I got caught up in the whole 9-11 saga and had to stay in Canada just because a woman recently returned from Pakistan was on my bus and I was probably the only other brown person on the bus. I haven't left Canada since. A new social movement? Building an alternative food economy in BC Cheryl Lans, postdoc BCICS, University of Victoria The theory of the alternative economy is based on the work of Ivan Illich. Its diverse goals are to produce according to the triple-bottom line; to use soft technologies; to have more female and family-friendly workplaces; and focus on alternative medicines and health care; and alternative education. Organic food consumption is one means of expressing an alternative lifestyle now that globalisation has eroded traditional (national) culture as a source of personal identity). My SSHRC postdoctoral research examined the role that organic farmers and their supporters play in the development of a British Columbia alternative food economy. Many of the leading actors involved are female. A variety of stakeholders are attempting to forge an ‘alternative’ food economy as opposed to the globalised food economy (e.g. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), food charters, the ‘Slow Food’ movement, ‘food box’ programs and various NGOs). Their ‘counterhegemonic’ aim is for a local and sustainable food system that improves access to fresh and healthy foods and gives producers a greater share of the consumer dollar. As institutions they built cultural rules and patterns of activity like Feast of Fields that helped build an alternative economy that included organic food. Both co-ops and organic/alternative farmers support the idea of buying good and services locally thus keeping resources within the community. This also builds community, stability and social capital. Both co-ops and organic farmers are working with the triple bottom line. They factor in the land and environment and social factors like employee welfare and social justice into their business practices. Also important is limiting food miles or the distance that food travels from farm to plate.