Profs: Farmers' markets cause 'environmental
New York Campus Correspondent
on Dec 27, 2017 at 10:16 AM EDT
Two San Diego State University professors contributed a
chapter to a new anthology arguing that farmers' markets are
"insidious" "white spaces where the food consumption habits
of white people are normalized."
While farmers' markets are often established as a way of
fighting "food deserts" in low-income areas, the professors
complain that 44 percent of San Diego farmers' markets are
located in census tracts with high levels of
Two San Diego State University (SDSU) professors recently
criticized farmers' markets for being "white spaces" that
contribute to the oppression of minorities.
Pascale Joassart-Marcelli and Fernando J Bosco, two
geography professors at SDSU, criticized the "whiteness of
farmers' markets" in a chapter for Just Green Enough, a new
anthology published by Routledge in December.
"Farmers' markets are often white spaces where the food
consumption habits of white people are normalized." The anthology, which features contributions from a variety
of professors, aims to highlight the harms of "environmental
gentrification," a process in which "environmental
improvements lead to...the displacement of long-term
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Farmers' markets are one such environmental improvement that
can lead to gentrification, Bosco and Joassart-Marcelli
argue, saying farmers' markets are "exclusionary" since
locals may not be able to "afford the food and/or feel
excluded from these new spaces."
This social exclusion is reinforced by the "whiteness of
farmers' markets" and the "white habitus" that they can
reinforce, the professors elaborate, describing farmers'
markets as "white spaces where the food consumption habits
of white people are normalized."
This is a paradoxical outcome, since farmers' markets are
often established in the interest of fighting so-called
"food deserts" in lower-income and minority communities.
Since grocery stores in low-income communities often lack
fresh quality produce, the professors say that in some
cases, farmers' markets may be only source of quality and
affordable produce for locals.
Citing research they conducted in San Diego, however, Bosco
and Joassart-Marcelli claim that 44 percent of the city's
farmers' markets are located in census tracts with a high
rate of gentrification, leading them to conclude that
farmers' markets "attract households from higher
socio-economic backgrounds, raising property values and
displacing low-income residents and people of color."
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"The most insidious part of this gentrification process is
that alternative food initiatives work against the community
activists and residents who first mobilized to fight
environmental injustices and provide these amenities but
have significantly less political and economic clout than
developers and real estate professionals
The professors stop short of offering specific remedies, but
do conclude that "curbing gentrification is a vexing task"
that requires the involvement of both community members and
"Strong community involvement," they say, is necessary in
order to ensure that "the needs of the poorest...residents
are prioritized," while local governments can enact
"equitable zoning policies, rent-control laws, and property
tax reforms in favor of long-time homeowners" to combat the
trend toward gentrification.
"Ultimately," they conclude, countering gentrification
"requires slow and inclusive steps that balance new
initiatives and neighborhood stability to make cities 'just
Campus Reform reached out to Bosco and Joassart-Marcelli for
comment, but neither professor responded in time for
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