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Dispatch: Bridging the Gap--Foodies vs. Food Justice

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By Kelly Garbach - Posted on 04 January 2011

An interesting pair of articles on sustainable food systems recently circulated on the UC Davis Sustainable Ag list-serve. The first, produced by National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition, showcased apps for smartphones that can build any layperson into a bona fide foodie by telling the user what’s in season and where to find a local farmers market, or how to incorporate leftovers into a gourmet meal ( http://www.npr.org/2010/12/12/132009213/food-apps-for-foodies-to-drool-over ). The second article, published the November 22 issue of Newsweek, discussed how food is becoming an important marker of class in the United States. Journalist Lisa Miller took readers on a journey through several kitchens and markets around the country ( http://www.newsweek.com/2010/11/22/what-food-says-about-class-in-america... ). The bottom line: it is increasingly hip and desirable to indulge (and display) a passion for local, organic products, yet at the same time the number of Americans without sufficient access to nutritious food is on the rise.

Miller’s piece read like a call to action (while the other article simply suggested a smorgasbord of actions that could be taken with an iPhone). Bridging the gap between foodies and food justice is fast becoming a principal challenge for scientists, policy makers, and citizen activists. This challenge is custom-cut for collaboration across boundaries of traditional disciplines, and as early career scientists we have unique opportunities to build diverse partnerships needed to do so. The research priorities and 2011 agendas for professional societies, including the International Symposium on Society and Resource Management and Society for Human Ecology, may be cause for additional optimism. The 2011 meeting agenda is dominated by themes such as “Integrating Conservation and Sustainable Living” and “Human Responsibility & Environmental Change: Planning, Process, and Policy,” So perhaps, while the gap between foodies and food justice may be growing, young scholars working in food systems and environmental policy may also have increasing access to resources, support, and venues to promote the changes needed bridge it.

For more on the International Symposium on Society and Resource Management: http://www.issrm2011madison.iasnr.org/index.php?L1=left_home.php&L2=body...
Society for Human Ecology: http://www.societyforhumanecology.org/