Beyond the Right to Food?

How might we nourish everyone without exploiting land, life, and labour?

21 min read

In a recent report for Common Wealth, I explored some potential ways to rebalance power in agricultural supply chains and instigate food systems change. Existing networks of food provisioning across the Global North are rooted in histories of unequal exchange, violence, extractivism, exploitation and monopoly power. In the report, I offer some alternatives which take two contemporary frameworks as a starting point for a radical programme of reform: the campaigns for a Right to Food and a Green New Deal. For this to happen, the call for an individual Right to Food must be linked with the more holistic and systemic visions of those who argue for an agroecological transition towards greater food sovereignty for both rural and urban communities across the world.

Given spiking food prices, their underlying socio-ecological causes, and the opportunities for speculation and profiteering they engender, this is obviously a ‘timely’ issue. But such exigencies belie the deeper implications of these proposals and policies. How can food systems be transformed in a fashion that is at once rapid, coherent, global, local, and radical? To what extent can—and should—extant state apparatuses be called upon to realise such change? And to what extent, if at all, can the abiding historical tendency in this sector of the state’s support for domestic and international land agglomeration, rural clearance, enclosure, and the intensification of violence in pursuit of cheapness be overcome? In proposing profound change to how we produce, distribute, and consume food, questions of systemic social change are unavoidable. This article reckons with these questions, at once reflecting on apparent options to ameliorate interlocking crises, whilst simultaneously offering provocations on future directions for movements seeking social and environmental justice.

How can food systems be transformed in a fashion that is at once rapid, coherent, global, local, and radical? To what extent can—and should—extant state apparatuses be called upon to realise such change?

The Agri-Food Conjuncture

Thinking about food systems change in the current conjuncture demonstrates how the past and the future are folded into the present. A future of worsening climactic instability, hunger, and malnutrition looms large, exacerbated by price rises and the escalation of conflict. Yet current fears around the price of food remind us that the history of the present food system is defined by capitalism’s contradictions. Keeping food cheap and in steady supply for workers in the capitalist countries of the Global North has required a succession of interpenetrating, sedimented layers of spatial and temporal socio-ecological fixes.1 These processes range from extractivism in Ireland and the American prairies to the development of cash crop plantation economies across the Global South,2 via various technologies of plant breeding, genetics, engineering, and chemistry. Such developments have served to allow the ongoing reproduction of labour in the capitalist core at minimal cost and the endurance of profitability. You can only extract so much surplus value from hungry workers, and the edible spoils of imperialism have long helped placate potential bread riots. The contemporary state – via various imperialist, technocratic, scientific, and financial methods – has been vital in securing such continuity and ‘food security’, to the detriment of many. Further, as Chris Otter’s recent book Diet for a Large Planet attests, such cultivated processes have had a differentiated yet transformative impact on our tastes, bodies, and metabolisms. The role of sugar and tea as ‘proletarian drug foods’3 is a well recognised example of this. Caffeine and sugar still serve to both energise and soothe the contemporary labour force, both at home and in the workplace. Such changes have also come with shifting dynamics within and between households regarding the unequal division of vital unpaid caring work, including acquiring and preparing food. These are, of course, dynamics in which men have usually been the last to cook yet the first to eat.

Such histories, and the varying potential futures they presuppose, compress and intensify the present moment and any attempts to change the future of food systems from within it. These dynamics must be held in mind, for example, when examining the claims of bodies like the Westminster Parliament’s ‘Net Zero Scrutiny Group’, who insist that socio-ecological change must be stopped in the interest of keeping living costs down. Although these contestations currently focus on energy transition, similar arguments regarding food are proliferating. Industrial agricultural lobbies like the European farmers’ union COPA-COGECA are already looking to use the war in Ukraine as a cover to suppress nascent and insufficient efforts to render capitalist agriculture less ecologically harmful. They find a willing friend in the European Commission, which has already delayed efforts to reduce the usage of fossil fuel-derived pesticides and fertilisers. Voices in support of conventional agri-business will cast any change as too expensive and warn that moving away from the fertilisers and pesticides which, they believe, ‘feed the world’ will permanently reduce yields, driving up prices and increasing food insecurity. If we were to shift away from these practices without sufficient countervailing measures, such as agroecological research and extension, dietary change, and greater food justice, such grim predictions would be, to an extent, correct. But maintaining our reliance on the preferred methods of industrial agri-business will produce ever greater soil degradation, biodiversity loss and water scarcity, whilst continuing to substantially contribute to global emissions.

Industrial agricultural lobbies like the European farmers’ union COPA-COGECA are already looking to use the war in Ukraine as a cover to suppress nascent and insufficient efforts to render capitalist agriculture less ecologically harmful.

Such discursive connections come easily within the current political climate, contributing to ‘discourses of delay’ which reproduce the idea that ecological crises are still a problem of the future. This is obviously not true for the hundreds of millions of people (and other beings) who live in the Sahel, on small islands or any other stricken geographies subject to the slow violence4 of environmental change. For many in the Global North, the idea that environmental issues are a problem for the future is, again, facilitated by the fact that we are (for the moment) insulated from the worst of it by imperialist buffers reliant on extracted wealth and the artificial cheapness of life and ecological systems. Unequal economic and ecological exchange, including in tropical agricultural commodities like coffee and bananas, has been, according to Utsa and Prabhat Patnaik, a foundational aspect of imperialist efforts to suppress living conditions and self-determination across the Global South. For many in the metropole, climate change, desertification and drought remain problems of ‘elsewhere’, both in time and in space. This is a perception enabled by a heady mixture of complacency and white supremacy. These dynamics of wilful ignorance and the export of harm are observable within the current global food regime. And tensions between the dawning reality of climactic change and extant processes of accumulation will become more acute in light of current supply chain factors, worsening environmental conditions for food growing across the world, soaring costs and escalating conflict. Ukraine, for example, is a major supplier of wheat to countries across the world, notably in the Middle East.

Efforts to represent ecologically-motivated agricultural change and food security as contradictory are ideologically resonant in inflationary times. ‘Cheap’ food, as the prevalence of food banks shows, is actually relatively expensive for many. Despite the fact that Britain5 has some of the lowest food costs in Western Europe, millions of people have insufficient means to avoid hunger. Food insecurity is, of course, compounded further for those who are subjected to multiple forms of oppression. As inflation continues, the cost of staples will increase at a rate that far exceeds orthodox measures of retail price rises. Alternatives presented as ecologically preferable, such as organic, ‘local’ or ‘artisanal’ foods, are even more prohibitively expensive. As such, in the face of radical alternative proposals, the spoils of class war will come to serve as grist for the shills fuelling the denialist mill. Decades of wage suppression, welfare cuts, and increasing personal debt have become impediments to change, according to those who imposed precisely these conditions on us.

Yet systemic change is required. ‘Food security’, however understood, will become ever more fragile in the context of extreme weather conditions and exhausted soils. But instigating positive changes to a structure so intricate, fragile, and foundational as the contemporary food system requires an understanding of the structural drivers and power dynamics of contemporary global capitalism and pursuant action to build sites of power that act to inhibit and counter the dominant paradigm of agri-business-as usual. These are tensions missed by those who refuse to recognise or acknowledge the extent to which the problems of the contemporary food system are inseparable from the world-systemic capitalist histories (and futures) described above.

Considering Solutionism

With these overarching questions in mind, I have been working with the think-tank Common Wealth to develop proposals to help start transforming British food systems. In the process my appreciation of the interdependencies food systems change presupposes has become more acute. This comes particularly after reading josie sparrow’s editorial, ‘There Is No “One Weird Trick”’ , in which she warns of the temptations of solutionism as offered by “the Green New Deal Industrial Complex”.

The temporality of solutionism, as discussed by sparrow, brings to mind the linear logic of function machines: numbers go in, things happen, the appropriate results come out. For those advocating food systems change, the appropriate results sought are broad-brush desiderata like ‘socially and environmentally just food systems transformations’ or ‘a transition towards climate-smart agriculture’. The function machine can only be operated using ‘policy levers’ which release suitable quantities of nudges, regulations and incentives that coax stakeholders towards the requisite outcomes. This rhetoric is exemplified by the Westminster government-commissioned National Food Strategy, and by current efforts to replace the European Union system of agri-food subsidies, represented in England by the nascent Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) programme.6

Those advocating more substantive change from Green New Deal and/or eco-modernist positions may also assert that if one thing is certain about the future, it is that sufficient amounts of money create sufficient amount of technology, which creates sufficient amounts of change. The position with which I am most sympathetic does indeed see Green New Deal-style investment and reform as a first step towards building a platform for social and institutional transformation capable of producing enduring socio-ecological change, relations of care, and collaborative, anti-imperialist subjectivities. Yet this relies to an extent on the same faith that the future can be forged in the present. It also puts faith in a relative capacity to subvert and divert entrenched forms of state power towards ends previously considered anathema via, for example, Parliamentary means. Many are rightly sceptical of such possibilities coming to fruition in the Global North at any point in their lifetime. History may be on their side. Yet I am also sceptical of approaches that advocate only for the creation of novel relations, playful experimentation, and grassroots networks in the hope that these alone will allow for substantive social change, a more just future, and the erosion of the state. These are ideas expanded upon by Thea Riofrancos, for example, who rejects pessimism around campaigning for transitional demands, highlighting the potential plasticity of institutions within and around the state, so that if the state is a battlefield rather than a thing, then so is the Green New Deal. For Riofrancos, local institutions can, through innovation, perseverance, organisation, and programmatic demands be turned away from the reproduction of domination and legitimation. The future is open, but it is not as unstructured as some might suggest. I usually justify this approach to myself using familiar and borrowed terms: in and against, from above and below.

What, then, are the ideas I am proposing that will incite transformative food systems change linked to anti-imperialist social and environmental justice? How, if at all, can we offer policies that will foment change without falling into the trap of solutionism? And are they worth the efforts required towards their composition and advocacy?

A Right to Food Systems

My report for Common Wealth focuses on connecting calls for the adoption of a legislative ‘Right to Food’ with more collectivist global campaigns around food sovereignty7 and the need to democratise ownership and access to land and food systems. In this sense, it is a move towards making a ‘Right to Food’ a starting point for a Right to Food Systems. Whereas a Right to Food supposes individuals’ right to access sufficient nutritious food, guaranteed by legislation and overseen by named authorities, a Right to Food Systems would attempt to allow communities at varying scales to have greater control of their local food systems through the establishment of alternative food networks which would eschew the logic of competition in favour of collaboration, mutual aid, and improved socio-ecological relations. Given this frame, it is perhaps worth noting the question of scale. Such proposals take England, Scotland, Wales and the occupied six counties in the North of Ireland as a starting point. They are rooted in an acknowledgement that producing more food for human consumption domestically is necessary to reduce ecological damage created elsewhere by our imperial mode of living. As such, this vision forms part of a societal transition away from imperialist geographies of extraction, which recognises the historical extent to which systems of agricultural production, self-sufficiency and ecologies have been degraded and disturbed by two centuries of the Global North’s ‘large planet diet’. On this point, accusations of solutionism or wishful thinking would be perhaps merited, yet an attempted break with imperialism must be a pivotal demand for any eco-socialist agenda.

Whereas a Right to Food supposes individuals’ right to access sufficient nutritious food, guaranteed by legislation and overseen by named authorities, a Right to Food Systems would attempt to allow communities at varying scales to have greater control of their local food systems.

Within these parameters, with an eye on the immediate conjuncture, I assert how calls for individuals to have a legal right to access food can be harnessed as a transitional step towards building the institutions and social infrastructures that will facilitate decommodification, commoning, and empowerment within the food system. Acceptance that individuals should have legally enshrined access to food necessitates consideration of how such a right could be delivered. As such, this vision articulates the delivery of such a right with the development and instigation of food systems change through the mobilisation of state resources, and the devolution and entrenchment of community power and food sovereignty.

I accept that a Right to Food, as called for by many, is perhaps an obvious example of solutionism. It speaks to an understanding of a future in which ‘rights’ are immutable realities rather than messy, mediated, and fallible political tools. Yet rather than settling for this liberal acceptance of individual rights, such calls can be used as a starting point for creating and incubating alternative food networks which look to build mutual aid, and to prefigure and model social relations of care, solidarity, and commensality.8 The report offers examples of institutions established or transformed to deliver a right to food using public resources: universal free school meals, public restaurants, community-owned retail and co-operatively run supply chains and processors. In making this assertion, Riofrancos’ work on institutions is a touchstone; Raymond Williams’s understanding of “reform as response,” outlined in the New Left Review in 1976, is also relevant. Williams contrasts reform as response with the more conventional (often Fabian) “representative reform,” which tends towards mere amelioration, and makes no direct challenge to the existing system. There is a solutionism to this reformism, a manipulation from above. For Williams, responsive reformism consists in diverse modes of organising around a suite of intersecting and converging demands, leading to substantive societal change. The question of what we eat and where it comes from offers a vector for channelling these intersecting demands into myriad spheres of contestation: land use and ownership, biodiversity and ecological regeneration, public spaces and social integration and solidarity, public health, shared and individual cultural expression and, fundamentally, time and wages. Discourses of rights and widely-shared associated understandings of personal autonomy and dignity provide a starting-point for beginning to manifest such a vision, but they cannot be the endpoint.

Further, such futures pose complexities in terms of their realisation. Such changes would have to be delivered in an interlinked way on both a ‘local’ and a national level. ‘Local’, as anyone involved with the politics of food should be aware, is a slippery term. In this context, discussions of local actions refer to existing local authorities. How such institutions will look in the future will (and should) change. However, in the first instance, these authorities could serve as a medium for establishing a Right to Food Systems and community food power. Conventional arguments for a Right to Food acknowledge that responsibilities would have to be created for local authorities to ensure its delivery. This could offer an institutional starting point for the establishment of more democratic small-scale institutions and networks for purchasing and distributing food. The system should allow for a degree of local flexibility in terms of how such provision could be offered; organisational forms such as public-commons partnerships should be encouraged and facilitated. Legislation could also call for the establishment of food councils, or more radical forms of currently existing local food partnerships.

In making good on the need to provide food for people, in need and more generally, existing public institutions could be resourced and encouraged to invest in the development of social infrastructure. This could precede the development of more systematic alternative food networks, community restaurants, and organisational forms such as co-operatives, community-supported agriculture, or efforts to reduce food waste and promote sharing and commoning. Many of these approaches have already been adopted by grassroots initiatives in many villages, towns, and cities.9 But their capacity to scale up is limited by their reliance on goodwill and their ability to access grant funding or similar resources. Local authorities should be empowered and resourced to provide investment and the utilisation and repurposing of land and premises towards these ends, as well as providing advisory and networking functions.

The capacity for localised forms of government to enact such policies in their current hollowed out form is obviously compromised. Further, the capacity to furnish novel supply chains with sufficient quantities of agroecologically produced food10 in the immediate future is also limited. As such, national policies are required to empower such authorities, as well as to attempt to correct and transform the existing structures of land ownership, monopoly capital and subsidies which reproduce the current broken food system and its significant ecological impacts.

Local institutions could be empowered to help develop more regionalised food systems and commons in a number of ways. The devolution of capacities to local authorities and their sufficient funding via progressive taxation and demilitarisation offer clear first steps. The establishment of confederative spaces for knowledge-sharing and cooperation across municipalities or regional bodies could see these develop further. Given the conservative nature of many local authorities, means of ensuring that funding was being appropriately channelled, and efforts made to work in these directions were taking place suggests the need for some form of continued centralised oversight, which obviously presents problems, the answers to which require further consideration and debate. Social organisation through trade unions, solidarity-orientated groups, and the politicisation of existing community movements in order to exert popular pressure on local authorities entering unfamiliar territory could serve to take advantage of a transitional moment, in line with Williams’ thinking.

There remains the broader question of how to support and facilitate agricultural change so that a Right to Food does not intensify the ecologically harmful practices of agri-business. How can we ensure that everybody has access to sufficient food that is produced in an agroecologically sustainable way? This problem is the subject of ongoing work by institutions and thinkers of various political stripes ranging from the Land Workers’ Alliance, a union for small producers, to the royalty-endorsed Food, Farming and Countryside Commission. My recent work with Common Wealth highlights a few of these, most notably land reform. Land reform proposals include taking land into public ownership for agriculture, financial support for horticulture, peri-urban farming and smaller farms, and institutional, legislative, and financial support and shelter for alternative organisational forms and ownership models such as community land trusts, co-operatives, and community-supported agriculture. These are not novel ideas; however, they are not yet sufficiently linked to the debates around food justice and the need to ensure that alternative food networks are accessible to the majority of people. Research and development is needed around how to successfully introduce different methods of producing food. Financing and facilitating this research will be vital. So too will be finding people to do the fundamental work within the food system, and ensuring that they are paid enough to secure their livelihoods. These issues are picked up in greater detail in other work produced by Common Wealth (which perhaps provokes similar questions around solutionism in a slightly different context). Conceptualising and campaigning for these measures as an assemblage, as an incubator for the above-mentioned processes of decommodifying and commoning ownership, is essential. Together, they could cohere into systematic alternatives; apart they are liable to absorption and integration into uneven patterns of capitalist development—in urban areas, as vectors of gentrification, in rural areas, as ‘empowering’ insular bourgeois attempts at hobby farming or self-sufficiency without any community participation and integration.

Notable by their absence within this framework too are the unequal and often oppressive power dynamics of food preparation work, ranging from shopping to washing up. This is a question alluded to earlier as regards the historical development of the capitalist household and the gendered division of labour therein. Who cooks affects what gets cooked, how and when and thus must be considered in these questions. It is possible to hope that these approaches have the potential to disturb the gendered devaluation of certain forms of care work and reproductive labour by increasingly foregrounding food provisioning as a shared societal task. It could do so in a way that subverts the existing tendency to imbue cooking with cultural value but as a vector for masculine posturing as typified by the celebrity head chef. In an eco-socialist transformation of food systems, cooking as an act of care should come to the fore in a way that transcends binary gendered ideas of who should care and how. Yet these approaches alone will not remedy centuries of patriarchal outsourcing in the same way that efforts to incubate and grow socialism are never guaranteed to liberate people who are not men. I have not been able to sufficiently articulate the interrelations between struggles over our land, our kitchens and our stomachs here but hope these are generative directions.

Fundamentally, many of the above ideas speak to a socialist project that involves including more people in the work of food production, changes the landscape of land ownership, and impacts the way people interact with food and food systems on a national, a community level and within and between our shared social forms. Such changes are not only necessary, but potentially offer empowerment and the potential for intra- and inter-species relations of care. The capacity for national governments to deliver on such a programme, however, is just as, if not more, compromised than the capacity of local authorities to become bulwarks of food sovereignty across their respective jurisdictions. In Westminster, the Labour Party has attempted to position itself as an alternative political choice in food-producing areas, given dissatisfaction around post-Brexit trade policies pushed through by the Tories. Yet the way the party conceptualises investment as part of impending socio-ecological change is transparently about supporting and empowering business, with no ambition for or interest in the systemic socio-ecological change required for a just systemic reorientation in the Capitalocene. Here, then, the state is conceptualised as, at most ,intervening to stabilise the reproduction of capital—and the proposed measures are likely too limited to even manage that. Where there is potential for marginally more substantive approaches, such as in Wales or Scotland, devolved governments lack the resources and ambition to instigate broad radical change, despite the greater relative significance of their agricultural sectors.

In this light, such well-intentioned aspirational programmes as the one I have set out above are once again again perhaps open to accusations of solutionism and/or statism. My Common Wealth report puts forth a vision for how these changes could materialise through hypothetical supply chains, and the policies and institutions required to support them. Yet conceptual changes, new perspectives, and raising awareness alone will not suffice in a system rigged to suppress alternative modes of autonomous, shared living. Growing interest in ‘imaginaries’, ‘futuring’ forwarded by the academic left and civil society11 cannot be sustained without attendant support and participation in concrete practices aimed at creating material change and building power in the present. These, in turn, have potential to overlap with imaginaries of technocratic solutionism deracinated from existing prefigurative practices, such as ‘Fully Automated Luxury Communism’. Many such opportunities for immediate engagement already exist to varying degrees, through community gardening projects, peri-urban farming, alternative food networks, and similar avenues. Yet these, too, have been subject to a long line of valid critiques12 regarding their broad inaccessibility, and the bourgeois proclivities and imaginaries upon which many of them are rooted.

The capacity to engage in the development of community food power is also mediated by the lack of freedom and access to land implicated with the forced market dependence of people living in the birthplace of industrial capitalism. In returning to the foundational question of the ‘cost of living’, we encounter the fundamental question of alienation and the need to enter the labour market in order to procure food (aka proletarianisation). This brings us back to the histories discussed at the beginning of this essay and their relation to the phenomena that, I would argue, necessitate engagement with the state in various forms in tandem with the establishment of community power and organic networks of commoning and solidarity. Further, history has shown the capacity for the dynamics of profit, competition, growth, and expansion to endure whilst stifling alternative social relations. Accordingly, a desire to scale out alternative agricultures in an economy based on cheapness and surplus value requires consideration of the capacity for state power to facilitate eco-socialist futures but also simultaneously compromise the social processes of expansionary capital and its veins of intensification.

I do not necessarily believe that I have all (or any) of the answers regarding what the future of our food systems should or will look like. The ideas put forward here and in the Common Wealth report are attempts to link ideas and open up spaces for collaboration and future discussion. Hopeful attempts at radical politics and food systems transformation must reckon with their inherent utopian filaments. Yet, we must be wary, as Marx warned us, of writing recipes for the cookshops of the future. In this sense, I have attempted to be guided by a belief in the need to incubate and facilitate ways of living and caring that offer a glimpse of an alternative world: commoning, collaboration, equality, and dignity. But these are, at this moment in time, kernels in projects designed for a world which is far from what it could be.

  1. For more on spatio-temporal fixes, this blog by Bob Jessop is useful. On socio-ecological fixes see this work by McCarthy. 

  2. As industrial capitalism developed on the island of Britain, the island of Ireland became a colonial laboratory for enclosure and export-oriented agriculture. You can read more about Marx’s contemporary analysis of this phenomenon here. The prairies of what is now known as the American mid-west were degraded by white settler-colonialism and associated expansionism, their untilled fertile soils mined relentlessly until the resultant creation of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. Similar processes of agricultural frontierism. degradation and the creation of cheapness through social and ecological violence continue to this day across the Global South, from soya and ranching in Brazil to palm oil plantations in Indonesia. 

  3. This is a concept forwarded by anthropologist Sidney Mintz in his influential 1985 book Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. London: Penguin. 

  4. Rob Nixon. 2013. Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 

  5. For clarity the report is intended to provoke consideration of ideas relevant to people in England, Scotland, Wales and the occupied six counties in the North of Ireland. I use the word Britain here in the geographical sense of the island of Britain – England, Scotland, and Wales - in order to bracket the differing relevance of such provocations for politics and actors in the occupied six counties of the North of Ireland. 

  6. The scheme, which will replace the area payments previously received by English farmers during membership of the European Union, is based on the idea that farmers will be paid public money for public goods. It is likely, however, to exacerbate land ownership concentration and encourage the ‘sustainable intensification’ of large parts of rural England. For a quick summary of some of the issues with this approach see this short article by Elise Wach. For a more comprehensive description of the direction that agri-food policy is taking in England see here

  7. The Land Workers’ Alliance sets out here their vision of food sovereignty for the UK, adapted from the work globally of Via Campesina

  8. Existing examples of how relationships of care and mutuality are fostered through food exist in various forms, from community fridges, to gleaning networks, to Sikh langar and food sharing collectives likes Food Not Bombs. Many of which also look to develop opportunities for social eating (commensality) as a means towards collective social enrichment. 

  9. Various groups and organisations are attempting to foster this food systems change in practice. For example, there are many operations engaged in community-supported agriculture, a system within which producers and eaters share the risks, rewards, and ownerships of agriculture. See here for a list of CSAs in England, Wales and Scotland. Equally, urban, and peri-urban farms and community gardens look to create space for development and sharing of both knowledge and produce. The Good to Grow network has a list of gardens across Britain currently open to volunteering opportunities. On food waste, platforms like Olio and campaigns like Feedback’s Feeding the 5000 look to help common surplus food. It is clear, however, the extent to which these projects and sites rely to varying degrees on voluntarism, good will and the donation of time. Ensuring more just access to such sites and efforts is further reason for the institutionalising approach set out above. Linking such aspirations with campaigns for Universal Basic Services and a four-day week could help in both directions. 

  10. For more on agroecology as a form of food production see the work of Agroecology Now! 

  11. Futuring or foresight approaches within academia and civil society take various forms, enacted variously by methods of stakeholder-derived predictions, narrative and storytelling or visualisation. Envisioning alternative futures is obviously vital to socio-ecological change and is a central part of what this report and my work more broadly attempts to do. But it is important to acknowledge that any generative future-oriented analysis must be rooted in the structural compulsions, impediments and openings of our world-capitalist conjuncture and the experience and efforts of those most affected by or materially organising and enacting post-capitalist visions in the present. 

  12. The work of Julie Guthman in the American context is a good example, who has long offered a critical analysis of the bourgeois “if only they knew” cultural politics of alternative food networks. Parallels can easily be drawn in Britain. 


Rob Booth (@RHABooth)

Rob Booth is a researcher looking at food systems and agricultural change.