ENVI 230
Geographies of Food Justice Spring 2022
Division II Difference, Power, and Equity

Class Details

Recent scholarship & reporting clearly show inequalities of race, class, & gender in access to adequate, healthy, & culturally appropriate food. Observers often call poor, segregated urban areas food deserts, evoking a landscape dominated by fast food & devoid of vegetables. Farmer & food sovereignty activist Leah Penniman instead refers to this as food apartheid to emphasize that inequalities in food access are the result of racism and are inseparable from other injustices. Notably, deserts & apartheid are both spatial metaphors, referring not only to the environments in which people eat, but also the systems of social, political, & economic power that define those places. This course considers the relationship between food, power, & geography by looking at such places. We ask: How does where people eat shape what they eat? What can we learn about structural racism & settler colonialism by looking at the diverse sites of food insecurity? How do people experience a globalized food system in uniquely localized ways? How do struggles over land & labor shape the possibilities for justice in the food system? Does it matter where our food is produced? We begin with a critical reevaluation of the concept of food deserts, drawing on works by scholars who question the term’s usefulness. Next, we consider indigenous hunting & fishing practices. From the Arctic to the Saint Lawrence River, ancestral practices are undergoing fundamental disruptions from settler colonialism & its effects, which include climate change & toxic contamination. Additional topics include farmworkers, pesticide exposure, migration, free trade, & diet-related disease. We will read works by geographers, anthropologists, sociologists, & journalists, among others. Throughout, we ask how people are enacting food justice & sovereignty on the ground. We listen to those on the frontlines & imagine a world in which their visions are reality.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 3148
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: 2-3 short papers on assigned topics, final research paper, class discussion, occasional short oral presentations
Prerequisites: ENVI 101 or permission
Enrollment Preferences: Environmental studies majors and concentrators
Distributions: Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
DPE Notes: This course considers how race, racism, and class shape access to food. We will discuss accountability within the food movement, and discuss ways to address inqualities in this area.
Attributes: ENVI Humanities, Arts + Social Science Electives
PHLH Nutrition,Food Security+Environmental Health

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