Not Just the Price of Food: Challenges of an Urban Agriculture Organization in Engaging Local Residents

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Abstract

This case study of a community-supported agriculture (CSA) organization in New Orleans focuses on the lack of participation in the CSA market by the local residents despite its intentions, and how various constituencies diagnose the causes of the disengagement. Interview and ethnographic observation data indicate a general consensus on the economic constraints, but some non-resident supporters of the organization attributed the issue to lack of knowledge about the food system or the benefits of local food consumption. The residents, on the other hand, pointed to spatial and sociocultural barriers that made the market and its location less accessible to them, including the produce selection and purchase options, convenience of access to the market, and the race-related historical and spatial context of the market's location. These findings suggest that the food access concerns of the food justice movement may be more easily addressed than the food sovereignty concerns. Food as a unique resource poses an additional challenge for the movement to construct an effective food justice frame.

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