Food justice in community supported agriculture – differentiating charitable and emancipatory social support actions
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) seeks to address injustices in the food system by supporting small-scale farmers applying agroecological practices through a long-term partnership: a community of members covers the cost of production and receives a share of the harvest throughout the season in return. Despite an orientation towards a more ... just and inclusive food system, the existing literature points towards a rather homogeneous membership in CSA. A majority of CSAs tends to involve (upper) middle-class consumers with above average education and income levels. Low income is still a major obstacle in joining a CSA. Membership diversification through social support actions is one possible way. Our main objective is to systematize and appraise social support actions of the CSA movement. Taking the CSA principles as a starting point, our main research question is: How do social support actions in CSAs operate in terms of social inclusion and what obstacles and challenges are associated with them? The theory of strategic action fields assists in describing how the CSA movement is positioning itself as an actor in and across neighboring strategic action fields. The CSA movement is clearly positioned in the Food Sovereignty field. By shifting the focus from justice to farmers to justice for members, the CSA movement is now also exploring the Food Justice field. Indeed, the CSAs’ contribution to the food justice movement is still largely uncharted. In our results, we identify both social support actions that are already implemented in the CSA movement in different countries, and the challenges that are associated with these actions. We pinpoint a classification of social support actions implemented by CSA organizers to increase access to their initiatives. We make a distinction between the emancipatory actions that empower beneficiaries and contribute to a systemic change, and punctual, charitable interventions that neither affect the structure of a CSA nor the food system.
Original publication in
Agriculture and human values (2023)