Alternative agrifood movements in an age of industrialized agriculture : an Ecuadorian case study Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/v979v5828

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  • Around the globe, an array of alternative agrifood movements has emerged largely in response to the ecological and socio-economic threat caused by industrialized agricultural processes. From organic agriculture, to Slow Food, Locavore, and the Food Sovereignty movement, people around the world are reasserting their right to healthy and culturally appropriate food grown using ecologically sound practices. These movements are guided in part by different philosophical and practical approaches to agricultural production and food consumption. The purpose of this inquiry is to explore the relationship between alternative agrifood movements and industrialized agricultural, including their socio-cultural, economic, and ecological outcomes. I focus this inquiry on a case study in the Ecuadorian Andes at an organic farm, La Finca, and a local NGO, Ser Tierra, both of which are involved in the alternative food movement. Specifically, I sought to gain an overview of community-supported agriculture (CSA) initiatives implemented at the local level by La Finca, and to determine whether or not these initiatives could be adapted to support the efforts of women farmer's working with the NGO, and 2) to learn about local women farmers' food sovereignty and micro-credit programs offered by Ser Tierra. Although I recognize that there are other (and sometimes contradictory) interpretations, this body of research contends that industrialized agriculture is in a state of over-development, and that alternative agrifood movements (such as the La Finca organic farm and Ser Tierra farmer field schools) represent more than niche-marketing, but rather a real commitment to environmental sustainability and socio-economic justice. This argument is based on data that illustrate that 1) the ecological effects of industrialized agriculture are overwhelmingly destructive, with increased loss of biodiversity worldwide, whereas small-scale agricultural practices promote healthy soil and biodiversity, 2) the economic benefits of large-scale agriculture are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few multinational corporations, while the livelihoods of many of the world's small-scale farmers are simultaneously destroyed, and 3) the socio-cultural impact of industrialized agriculture is a loss of traditional foods and a trend towards global food hegemony controlled by multinational agrifood complexes, rather than by individual or local cultural preferences.
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