Fresh produce for sale at a farmer’s market. (Shutterstock)
As consumers become increasingly dissatisfied with conventional, large-scale food systems, they are seeking ways to reconnect with their food. For the wealthy, that translates into a turn toward what we call the “alternative food system.”
My extensive research into North American food insecurity examines the inequality inherent in that trend. It highlights that only people who can afford to “vote with their forks” are able to support this emerging food system — one that is understood to be more ethical, more sustainable and more transparent.
My research also discusses options for smoothing out the inequality in the alternative food movement, and lands on policy change as a major solution.
Before you throw your hands up, saying policy change is a challenge someone else should tackle, I invite you to read on, because I also uncovered major problems with our societal attitudes. These are what you and I need to explore — and tackle directly — if we have any hope of implementing the necessary policy changes.
My interviews revealed that alternative food retailers lacked awareness or concern about low-income Canadians facing food insecurity. When asked about widening food access to this demographic, it wasn’t uncommon to hear responses like: “We really don’t think about that very much. We don’t help people that much.”