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Foodscapes and the Geographies of Poverty: Sustenance, Strategy, and Politics in an Urban Neighborhood

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Abstract

This paper argues that food should be a more central focus of critical geographical research into urban poverty and that the concept of “foodscape” can contribute to this literature. We utilize the concept in a study of the daily practices of accessing food among low-income residents of the Downtown Eastside neighborhood of Vancouver, BC. We highlight how food access for the urban poor involves a complex and contradictory negotiation of both sites of encounter and care and also exclusion and regulation. Focusing on foodscapes emphasizes the social, relational, and political construction of food and thus highlights not simply food provision but also questions of existing power structures and potentialities for future change. Therefore, we discuss efforts to question the existing food system in Vancouver, to resist the gentrification processes that threaten the Downtown Eastside's food resources, and to build alternative strategies for urban food justice.

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