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Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition


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Locating Food Democracy: Theoretical and Practical Ingredients


Neva Hassanein PhD
a a

University of Montana, Rankin Hall, Missoula, MT

Version of record first published: 11 Oct 2008.

To cite this article: Neva Hassanein PhD (2008): Locating Food Democracy: Theoretical and Practical Ingredients, Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition, 3:2-3, 286-308 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19320240802244215

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1932-0256 1932-0248 WHEN Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition Nutrition, Vol. 3, No. 2-3, June 2008: pp. 131

THEORY & APPLICATIONS

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Locating Food Democracy: Theoretical and Practical Ingredients


Neva Hassanein JOURNAL OF HUNGER & ENVIRONMENTAL NUTRITION

Neva Hassanein, PhD

ABSTRACT. This research was designed to better understand the


concept of food democracy through analysis of a particular community food initiative in Missoula, Montana. An analytical framework identifying some key dimensions of food democracy is posited and then examined through in-depth research into a partnership that involves university students working on a community farm to produce food for distribution to low-income people through the food bank and to members of a community supported agriculture arrangement. Organizations collaborate to affect change they could not achieve on their own and create opportunities

Neva Hassanein, PhD, is Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Montana, Rankin Hall, Missoula, MT (E-mail: neva.hassanein@ umontana.edu). The author is grateful to Lita Furby, Teresa Welsh, Garden City Harvest, and the Missoula Food Bank for their many valuable contributions to this research, to the editors and reviewers for their helpful comments, and to the University Grant Program at the University of Montana for financial support. Address correspondence to: Neva Hassanein, PhD, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Montana, Rankin Hall, Missoula, MT 59812 (E-mail: neva.hassanein@umontana.edu). Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition, Vol. 3(23) 2008 Available online at http://www.haworthpress.com 2008 by The Haworth Press. All rights reserved. doi:10.1080/19320240802244215

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for meaningful participation by individuals involved in various facets of the food initiative.

KEYWORDS. Food democracy, food citizenship, food system, community farm, community supported agriculture, food banks, collaborative action, citizen participation

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Americans at the turn of the century face serious strains in their democratic institutions and worrisome signs in their everyday civic life, yet they have never stopped reinventing democracy. Indeed, over the past several decades they have created forms of civic practice that are far more sophisticated in grappling with complex public problems and collaborating with highly diversified social actors than have ever existed in American history. Carmen Sirianni and Lewis Friedland1

INTRODUCTION
Most contemporary struggles over the future of the agricultural and food systemsuch as debates over genetic engineering or labeling foods as to their country of originseem to be fundamentally about democracy. Perhaps what we are really grappling with is who gets to make the decisions about something as basic as the food we put into our bodies every day and how the character and direction of agri-food systems are determined. Indeed, food is contested terrain, representing a struggle between those economic and social forces seeking to control the system and those citizens seeking to create more sustainable and democratic food systems. A variety of actors have challenged the processes of agricultural industrialization, increasing concentration of economic power, and corporate-led globalization. As a result, we have not only seen protest in recent decades, we have also witnessed the flourishing of new civic organizations dedicated to building and creating alternatives to the dominant system. Increasingly, activists and scholars are using terms like food democracy, food citizenship, and food sovereignty to describe some of these alternatives. Are these alternative agri-food initiatives examples of a new kind of civic practice and innovation? How do we recognize movement toward substantive food democracy when we see it? What are its properties? What are good indicators of food democracy or its absence?

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What are effective steps toward creating food democracy? This study engages with these questions and explores what constitutes food democracy both theoretically and practically. Five key dimensions of food democracy are outlined, and in one of the first attempts to operationalize the concept, the dimensions are characterized and assessed with in-depth research into a particular community-based food initiative in Missoula, Montana.

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THEORIZING FOOD DEMOCRACY


Scholars, public intellectuals, and activists are increasingly making connections between contemporary agri-food politics and democracy.26 Lang5 argues, for instance, that the agri-food system is a microcosm of how the wider society is organized and reflects a titanic struggle between the forces of control and the pressure to democratize. Food democracy exposes demands for greater access and collective benefit from the food system so that it provides the means to eat adequately, affordably, safely, humanely, and in ways one considers civil and culturally appropriate.5 A rights discourse is central to many conceptions of food democracy, often stressing how the power of agribusiness has diminished democratic processes. For example, Frances Moore Lapp and Anna Lapp7 explain that: Food democracy means the right of all to an essential of lifesafe, nutritious food. It also suggests fair access to land to grow food and fair return for those who labor to produce it. They also call for economic rules that encourage communities to safeguard the soil, water, and wildlife on which all our lives and futures depend. Likewise, the global peasant organization, Via Campesina, has circulated a Statement on Peoples Food Sovereignty, challenging the dominant economic development model and asserting the right of peoples to define their own food and agriculture.8 Similarly, Shiva9 argues that genetically modified foods are intrinsically linked to food dictatorship because a handful of corporations control the technology and intellectual property, often restricting information and choice by limiting the consumers right to know what is in their food. Another activist underscores that the real struggle is about public, democratic decision making versus private, corporate decision making on issues of food and agriculture.10 Building upon this emphasis on rights, some scholars stress the capacities, responsibilities, and active participation of food citizens.11,12

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Welsh and MacRae11 argue that food citizenship emerges from peoples active participation in shaping the food system, rather than by accepting the system as passive consumers. Food citizenship, they explain, has been diminished in the contemporary food economy in at least 4 ways: (1) the corporate control of the food system, often achieved through vertical and horizontal integration; (2) the limited information available to consumers about the products they buy; (3) the manipulation of the supermarket environment to increase sales; and (4) the proliferation of convenience foods that ultimately deskill the eater. By contesting the commodification of food and the passivity of consumers, food democracy becomes a transformative goal in that it challenges the very structure of capital. As argued at length in my previous work, food democracy is not only a goal, it also suggests the importance of processes for making choices when values come into conflict and when the consequences of decisions are uncertain.12 Solutions to ecological, social, and economic problems in the dominant food system must be determined socially and politically through meaningful civic participation and political engagement by an informed citizenry. Indeed, basic principles of substantive democracy that is, how democracy is intended to workhold that individuals can exercise the good judgment and wisdom required to make decisions that further the well-being of society. Democratic principles also hold that all persons should be afforded an equal opportunity to participate in decisions that affect them. At the core of food democracy, then, is the idea that all people participate actively and meaningfully in shaping food systems. Food democracy is about citizensin the broad, denizen sense of the worddetermining agro-food policies and practices locally, regionally, nationally, and globally.12

KEY DIMENSIONS OF FOOD DEMOCRACY


The concept of food democracy deserves greater specificity elaborated through theoretical and practical exploration. Accordingly, an initial analytical framework of some (though certainly not all) key dimensions of food democracy is presented below and then examined in the case of a community food initiative that seemed to have at least some of these dimensions. This research looks at what shape these dimensions might take in a locality and whether they are useful to furthering our understanding of food democracy more generally.

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Collaborating Toward Food System Sustainability


First, the framework posits that food democracy is not achieved solely by individual decisions and actions but necessarily involves collective action by and among organizations.12 Food democracy will require that effective coalitions work toward sustainabilitya term used to encompass ecological soundness, economic viability, and social justice and welfare. Building coalitions to address particular needs or issues increases citizen power by enabling organizations to effect change that they could not achieve on their own and by expanding the number of people involved in an effort. To the extent that coalitions involve differing interests, they can also serve as important mechanisms through which groups can learn about one another. Second, in addition to collaborative action, the framework emphasizes the importance of meaningful participation by individuals in governing and shaping their relationships to food and the food system. Meaningful participation involves the following four dimensions.

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Becoming Knowledgeable About Food and the Food System


Democratic theory often recognizes the importance of individuals having the knowledge necessary to participate effectively. Yet, in the dominant food system, powerful economic interests seeking to maintain control over the agri-food system have limited such knowledge through intense commodification and through distancing producers and consumers from each other and the earth.13 Hence, food democracy means that citizens have broad knowledge of the food system and its various facets.

Sharing Ideas About the Food System with Others


Ongoing discussion and deliberation enables citizens to clarify issues and discuss values. Barber14 describes this idea as common talk, which he sees as a key component of strong democracy. People make better decisions for both themselves and others if they have shared ideas and engaged in deliberation.

Developing Efficacy with Respect to Food and the Food System


Efficacy means that an individual has the capacity to determine and produce desired results. Rather than remaining passive consumers, food democracy involves citizens being able to determine their own relationship to food and public work by citizens to address and solve community food problems. Public workthe commonwealth view of citizenship that was

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once more prevalent in the United States than it is todayconsists of an observable effort by a mix of people who produce things for the common good and who gain greater confidence in their capacities in the process.15

Acquiring an Orientation Toward the Community Good


A strong democracy involves citizens caring about the public good; that is, they are willing to go beyond their self-interests to promote the well-being of the community and to recognize the value of mutual support and interdependence. The term community is understood in the broad sense that Aldo Leopold16 articulated when he urged that the boundaries of community and our ethical responsibilities be extended to include the land. Hence, food democracy involves caring about both the human and non-human communities of place we inhabit.

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COLLABORATIVE ACTION: THE PEAS FARM


Since 1997, a partnership in Missoula, Montana, has provided local, organic produce to area residents of all income levels and has educated people in various ways about sustainable food systems. Below, a basic description of the 3 organizations central to the initiative introduces the research site and the associated network of social relations. This description illustrates the first dimension of food democracycollaborating for food system sustainabilityand characterizes the space it creates for the engagement of food citizens in the community. First, through the University of Montanas Environmental Studies Program, graduate and undergraduate students can enroll in the Program in Ecological Agriculture and Society (PEAS), which provides a unique opportunity to do hands-on work on a farm for academic credit. The 6.5acre PEAS Farm, located a couple of miles from campus, lies at the edge of a residential area. Students are involved in everything from managing the greenhouse in February to harvesting pumpkins in October. Although students work on the farm during the fall and spring semesters, summer is the heart of the program, with students committing to about 16 hours of farm work per week, as well as Friday lessons and field trips. Each year, under their instructors guidance, students produce thousands of pounds of food for low-income and other Missoulians. Secondly, PEAS collaborates closely with Garden City Harvest (GCH), a nonprofit community group that manages the farms operations

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and the distribution of fresh produce to area food pantries. GCH also runs a community supported agriculture program (CSA), an arrangement through which members purchase a share of the farm produce at the start of the season and receive food each week. About half of the produce goes to the CSA, raising funds that are critical to covering operational expenses (e.g., seeds, fuel, electricity). The PEAS instructor is paid primarily through the university, but he is also on the staff at GCH. A third major partner in this effort is the Missoula Food Bank (MFB), which responds to the fact that over 12% of households in Montana experienced food insecurity and nearly 5% experienced hunger on average in 20022004.17 In 2003, the MFB distributed food to over 11,000 individuals through their food pantry in a county with about 95,000 people; client numbers have continued to climb.18 The MFB has been the primary (although not the only) mechanism through which GCH and PEAS have provided produce to those in need. Each year, the MFB donates $5,000 to GCH, and in return GCH promises to give at least 15,000 pounds of food. In 2003, GCH gave the MFB approximately 29,000 pounds; 18,000 pounds of that total came from the PEAS farm (the remainder from community gardens). Other entities play a role in this extensive partnership. Local government leases the land to GCH for $1 per year. In addition, GCH partners with programs for adjudicated and at-risk teens to provide therapeutic, service-oriented employment on the farm for about 5 youth each summer. Most recently, GCH instituted a community education program, directed by former PEAS students, to organize field trips to the farm for elementary and high school classes. This collaboration provides high-quality produce to people in need and to CSA members while simultaneously educating the Missoula community about sustainable food systems. The 3 organizational actors share a sense of ownership and commitment to the initiative, with each contributing in a unique and synergistic way. Collaborative problem-solving, for example, has been the norm when fundraising or operational issues arise. The farm is highly visible as a result of its proximity to neighborhoods, media attention, and public events held at the farm.

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METHODOLOGY
To learn about the perspectives of participants in this initiative and explore the dimensions of food democracy, quantitative and qualitative data were collected during 2003 as follows:

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1. In-depth interviews of 45 minutes to one hour, using open-ended questions, with 11 of the 13 students (85%) enrolled in PEAS during summer 2003. Topics covered included personal benefits of participation in PEAS; what and how students learned; eating and shopping changes as a result of participating, if any; what decisions students made on the farm; how decisions were made on the farm; whether they talked more about food and farming outside of PEAS as a result of participating; student involvement in other food/farming issues; what benefits they think the community gets from the farm; how this program relates to the larger food system; and suggestions for improvements. 2. In-depth interviews, using open-ended questions, with 22 of 25 CSA members (88%) who had been members 3 or more years. Longer-term CSA members were selected for interviews because they had considerable experience upon which to draw for an indepth discussion. Interviews of 20 to 30 minutes were typically conducted at the farm before the member picked up their produce. Topics included personal benefits of being a CSA member; what one has learned by belonging; the activities and social opportunities involved in membership; eating and shopping changes as a result of membership; how the community benefits from the farm; how the farm and CSA relate to the larger food system; and suggestions. 3. A survey, with primarily closed-form questions, given to all CSA members at the end of the season (92% response rate, N =83). Survey questions were developed after preliminary analysis of the interviews of long-time CSA members and generally covered the same topics. Over a 2-week period, several researchers asked members to fill out the survey when they came to get their shares. Those who could not take the time at that point were given a survey along with a stamped, addressed envelope to return it in. 4. A survey, with primarily closed-form questions, given to MFB clients (94% response rate, N = 471). Developed after interviewing MFB staff, this survey was brief because the clients main engagement with the farm is by receiving vegetables at the pantry, and it seemed a priori that their experience at MFB was much thinner in terms of the food democracy dimensions identified. Over a 2-week period in early autumn, MFB distributed the survey along with the regular intake form. Data collection took place late in the season to ensure that repeat clients would be likely to have obtained some of the farms fresh vegetables earlier in the summer. Because questions were asked at intake and there were many first-time clients, topics

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were limited to general desires regarding produce at MFB (as opposed to the actual experience of getting the produce there). 5. In-depth interviews, one to two hours each, with 4 staff members of Garden City Harvest/PEAS and 3 Missoula Food Bank staff. Many of the same questions asked of CSA members and PEAS students were asked of staff, in addition to questions about the individuals work; their perceptions of what students, CSA members and/or MFB clients got out of the program; and the history of the collaboration. 6. Supplemental data. Newspaper and magazine articles, newsletters, and related documents were reviewed. Time volunteering at both the MFB and the farm allowed for observations of the operations. My approach to social research is interpretive in that I am interested in how people understand social action, but my approach is also a critical one that aims to utilize research to empower people to change society.19 The methods generate a detailed description and analysis of the particular site, and the strong response rates increase confidence in the data. Researchers asked all interviewees in a given group the same questions; however, participants also had a chance to raise unanticipated ideas, and probes were used to clarify, rather than assume, the meanings of terms. Readers should also note that I participated in this site in a supportive capacity through my position at the university; however, a research assistant interviewed most of the PEAS students to minimize my influence on their responses. While the results cannot be generalized in a statistical sense to other similar sites, the purpose of this inquiry is to use analysis of the particular case in order to build and extend the theory of food democracy, which can be refined in subsequent research (what Burawoy20 terms the extended case method). All interviews were tape recorded and transcribed. These texts were analyzed using content analysis, a process that involves coding the data for relevant themes and making the information systematically comparable.21 A set of coding categories was developed for each topic covered in the interviews, as well as those that emerged in the data. These categories were then examined for relevance to the analytic dimensions of food democracy and sorted accordingly. The number of respondents to articulate a particular category was recorded. Quotations are an important part of depicting participants perspectives. In presenting quotations below, verbatim language is used; however, awkward phrases (e.g., you know) have been eliminated to make it easier to read. As customary, deletions are indicated with ellipses. Numbers in parentheses after quotes represent the various participants.

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FOOD DEMOCRACY IN PRACTICE


The proposed framework suggests that food democracy not only depends on collaboration among different groups but also on meaningful participation by individuals in governing and shaping their relationships to food and the food system. As described above, such participation involves gaining knowledge, sharing ideas, developing a sense of efficacy, and contributing toward the community good. Below, each of these dimensions is considered in turn with respect to the reported experiences and perspectives of PEAS students, CSA members, and MFB clients.

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PEAS Students Knowledge


In todays food system, most North Americans know very little about where their food comes from or how it reaches their plates.13 Because such knowledge seems crucial to the development of food democracy, PEAS students were explicitly asked in the interviews about what they learned from their participation. Two major areas of learning emerged from the analysis of over 30 different categories under this topicone related to the actual production of vegetable food crops and the other related to the food system more generally. Not surprisingly, all 11 students interviewed reported that through their participation in PEAS they learned about growing vegetables. Students specifically mentioned maintaining the greenhouse, preparing the soil, transplanting and seeding, thinning and spacing, using floating row covers, caring for specific plants, watering, dealing with pests and weeds, rotating crops, and keeping produce fresh after harvest. For nearly all students, learning about growing vegetables also included gaining mechanical skills such as how to use irrigation equipment, how to use tools and/or machinery (e.g., hoes, tractors), and how to build things (e.g., greenhouse tables). All of the students interviewed also mentioned learning about the food systemincluding conventional, alternative, and local aspects. This included such topics as the power of monopolies, the industrialization of agriculture, the transportation infrastructure required to move food long distances, and the politics of organic certification. Knowledge of the local food system involved examples like meeting growers through farm field trips, visiting a small food processing facility, and discovering which grocers and restaurants buy local and/or organic food. Although some students volunteered that they learned about local emergency food providers,

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we also asked them directly whether they had learned about hunger in the area. Most reported that they did not learn much at all, although a few felt as if they had learned some things, especially if they had taken deliveries to the food bank as part of their work. Another theme that more than one third of the students reported in their learning related to knowledge they gained about cooking and eating food. In part, these skills developed because each day 2 students prepared lunch for the others using vegetables available from the farm. Cooking for large numbers of people was a new experience for several students, and others reported learning new ways to prepare vegetables. Certainly students did not gain complete knowledge of food production skills or learn about all food system issues. But it is clear that they learned a lot about these areas, knowledge that they did not have prior to their participation. Interestingly, as one student explained, this awareness instilled inquisitiveness about food: Just being able to be empowered with the ability to ask those questions of where do these [foods] come from and being able to understand peoples answers when they tell you. Thats the big deal (#11).

Sharing Ideas
Individuals talking with one another about food issues suggests an engagement that is required for food democracy because discussion and deliberation are necessary for democratic decision-making. The importance of talk emerged in several ways during the student interviews. First, talk figured as an important way of learning, an idea that became apparent in their responses to our asking about how they learned on the farm. Second, we also asked them explicitly whether their participation had increased the amount they talked with others outside of PEAS about food issues. Third, talk and deliberation emerged in response to our questions about decision-making on the farm. All but one of the students mentioned asking questions, talking to others at the farm, and/or explanatory talks as important ways they learned through PEAS. Seven students explained that they became really curious (#4) and learned just by asking (#9). Often their questions were directed to the instructor, but they also talked with one another during random talks in the field (#8) or discussions, like, at lunch (#3). One student illustrated learning about poverty because they had talked about it while packing boxes of onions for the food bank, explaining it comes up a lot in conversation (#7). Seven students cited explanatory talks as an

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important way of learning, particularly those scheduled for Friday mornings or impromptu lectures during lunch. Nearly all of the students found themselves talking about food and farming issues outside of the farm much more as a result of PEAS. Although we do not know the exact nature of these conversations, they mentioned talking with family, friends, and coworkers about topics such as what they were doing on the farm and making consumption choices. One passionate student said she gets on a soap box (#4), while others said they talked about food a lot. Talk and deliberation figure into decision-making on the farm according to all of the students. Although several noted that the instructor or his assistants made most of the big decisions, the students sensed that they were able to make suggestions and engage in individual and group decision making on a day-to-day basis. Often the group would deliberate when the instructor posed questions and asked them to decide together. In the course of their work, students made management decisions about tasks such as harvesting and watering. They also had considerable latitude to take on special projects of interest to them, such as getting chickens and building a coop. It appears from the student comments that the instructor empowers them to take part in talking about and arriving at decisions. As one student put it: Most of the decisions are made with students, and if theyre really huge decisions, theyre just usually supervised by [the instructor]. . . . This is definitely a student-run farm for the most part (#7).

Efficacy
Food democracy entails determining ones own relationship to food, and it engages citizens in the public work of addressing problems related to food in the community. Efficacy involves not only a capacity to act but also includes actually having an effect. Although we did not explicitly ask students about efficacy, it emerged as a relevant concept during data analysis. Clearly, these students are efficacious in the sense that they produce literally thousands of pounds of food that contributes to the common good. Through participating in PEAS, students provide most of the farm labor and, consequently, they develop and use their capacities to produce fresh, organic vegetables for community members. This food production makes a difference in at least 2 obvious ways. First, it helps to meet a real need for fresh produce distributed through the Missoula Food Bank. Often food pantries do not have fresh vegetables of any kind available for their clients

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(much less organic, local produce). Second, in producing food for the CSA, students provide produce for this group as well, and, as many have noted, CSAs help reduce the vast physical and social distances between producers and consumers that are characteristic of the dominant food system.13 In the process of producing food, students use the knowledge generated and their exchange of ideas with others to develop a sense of efficacy, particularly with respect to making decisions. Initially, students are reluctant to contribute to farm decisions, but over half of them report that with time they are more willing to participate in the decision-making. As one student explained: the more you know about the farm, the more you want to participate (#6). Through this public work, they gain confidence (# 9) and trust (#1) in themselves and their abilities. Gaining a sense of efficacy increases the likelihood that the students who have participated in PEAS will take action around food issues. Indeed, 6 of the 11 students explicitly noted that their participation had increased their involvement in food issues outside of the program. In addition, 5 students felt that the program would likely lead them to activism or the creation of similar efforts in their future lives.

Community Good Orientation


Students get a great deal out of participating in PEAS, mentioning an average of 6 different personal benefits. Some even say they are transformed by the experience: Its definitely changed me a lot (#6). But do they see themselves as contributing to broader change in the community? Food democracy implies a willingness to go beyond ones self-interest to care about and work for the public good. In asking the students what they personally got out of participation, 7 identified their contributions to the community. While one felt she was doing something meaningful (#8), another reflected that the experience gives me hope that positive communities can still be built with good programs like these. . . . Its just really cool to see how much of an effect a farm that grows massive amounts of food has on a community in a positive way (#7). Students were also asked specifically about what benefits they thought the community got from the farm, and they had no trouble responding. Of course, the most frequently mentioned community benefit was food, especially for low-income people, as noted by nearly all students. Another commonly mentioned benefit of the farm is the physical place, which is aesthetically beautiful and generates a lot of interest. Over half the

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students also saw the farm as increasing knowledge about food and farming among some community members; for example, by demonstrating that growing food is a good use of the land and that it is possible to grow a lot of food on a small plot. Students also thought the farm enhances social ties in the community and creates a positive environment for adjudicated youth who work with them.

CSA Members Knowledge


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Gaining new knowledge proved to be a part of the members experience of the community supported agriculture (CSA) program. We asked specific questions about knowledge gained in both the interviews with 22 longer-term members and in the survey with all members. Learning also emerged in the analysis of several other topics as well. The main area that CSA members report learning about is how to cook, eat, and like new vegetables. This was clear in the interviews with longtime members, 18 of whom reported learning how to cook or eat particular vegetables. Nearly half of the members mentioned learning to cookand many even grew to likekale, which is available in abundance because it grows well in our northern climate. As one member put it: I learned multiple ways of using kale. Four years ago, I didnt know what the hell it was (#21). According to the survey, 87% of the membership feels that they have learned how to prepare and eat new vegetables. Such learning is notable given that convenience foods have tended to deskill many North American eaters; ideally, projects that encourage food citizenship aim to reskill eaters about nutritious, seasonal food and cooking.11 CSA members also learned a variety of things about producing food, albeit at a general level. The survey shows that 58% of the members felt they learned more about what is involved in growing vegetables, 83% said they learned that more vegetables can be grown in our area than they had previously realized, and 82% said that their awareness of the seasonality of various vegetables has increased. Similarly, half of those interviewed mentioned learning about things like the seasonality of vegetables, the influence of weather, and the amount of food that can be grown in a small area. Finally, 79% of the CSA members surveyed said their awareness of and attention to the larger food system has increased. Clearly, CSA members do feel that they have learned new things as a result of their participation, but only a third of those interviewed said they would like to learn more. And, when members were asked on the survey

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if they want more information available on how the farm contributes to feeding low-income people, only 24% said yes; even fewer said they wanted more information on other programs (e.g., for at-risk youth). Thus, while learning does occur, it does not seem to be a particularly salient aspect of the CSA experience. Indeed, when asked generally what they personally get out of their participation, only 3 long-time members (14%) mentioned that they or their children learn as a personal benefit of belonging. In contrast, nearly all students identified gaining new knowledge as a personal benefit of their participation.
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Sharing Ideas
The survey asked CSA members whether the time they devote to talking with others about food and farming has increased. This statement was somewhat true for 52% of the respondents and very true for 30%. Interviews with long-time members suggest that such conversations mainly revolve around the farm and how it works. When asked about the ways they participate in the CSA, nearly half of the long-time members volunteered that one thing they do is talk about the farm with others. From their comments, it seems that most of this talk is oriented toward encouraging our friends to join (#16) or describing how the farm and its partnerships work. As one member put it: I talk about it [the farm] all the time. . . . Im always informing people (#7). Members apparently perceive a need to get the word out (#14) about the farm, and they described most of their talk in that vein. How much participants converse about food and farming issues is relevant to our discussion of food democracy because it suggests a certain level of engagement and because deliberating with others is part of democratic decision-making. Other than making decisions related to their own membership and giving feedback, these members do not take an active role in decisions. This contrasts with the original CSA model involving a core group of members who help to make decisions, recruit new members, and other tasks.22 In this nonprofit setting, the core group model may be less relevant since its aim is to support the private, commercial grower in ways beyond paying for membership.

Efficacy
CSA members develop efficacy with respect to both their personal relationship to food and to a lesser extent the food system more generally. On the personal level, such efficacy is evident in their ability to obtain produce

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that they want and to become more connected to their food and the place it is grown. Members also make a broader impact because monies generated from the CSA are vital to the farms operation and the ability of lowincome members of the community to obtain the fresh produce as well. Clearly, CSA members demonstrate their capacity to affect their relationship with food by joining and thus being able to obtain the quality of food they desire. Acquiring such produce appears to be the primary benefit of membership. Almost all long-time members mentioned getting organic, fresh, high quality and/or local produce as a benefit. When the entire membership was surveyed, 90% said it was very important to them to obtain vegetables that are extremely fresh, 89% said it was very important to obtain vegetables that taste good, 82% said doing something good for their health was very important, and 78% said it was very important to them to feed their children organic vegetables. Members also made some choices about the food they received each week; however, their level of choice was much less than at a typical grocery store because it was influenced greatly by seasonal and farm availability. Participation in the CSA appears to have somewhat increased the amount of time members spent on food-related activities, suggesting perhaps a greater involvement in determining their relationship to food. In addition to eating new foods, 68% of members surveyed said they spent more time preparing meals, and 62% said they spent more time preserving food (e.g., freezing, canning). Interestingly, when we directly asked interviewees whether they wanted to be more involved with the CSA and the farm, three quarters of them said they did not; most cited their busy schedules as the reason. One unusual way that CSA members are able to affect their relationship to food is by deciding how much their produce will cost them, a choice that they cannot make at a grocery store or at the farmers market. All paying CSA members choose from among 3 payment levels. Interestingly, 21% think that they pay less than the cost of production, a welcome option to low-income individuals that is not normally available in the conventional food system. And 30% think they pay more than enough to cover the cost of producing the food received, giving members the opportunity to help subsidize other members and food bank clients.

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Community Good Orientation


Although CSA members clearly valued the high-quality produce they got from the farm, it appears that they also recognized the value of mutual

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support and caring about the public good. And they perceived that there are a number of different community goods generated as a result of this food initiative. Eighteen of the 22 long-time members said that they personally valued the opportunity to help others and the environment. They felt their membership allowed them to support someone else getting good food (especially through the food bank), to support individual farmers, to support students opportunity to learn, and to protect the environment. As one member put it: Its nice to support a community project like this that also then provides fresh produce to the lower-income people; and theyre people who wouldnt ordinarily be able to access this quality of product. So thats kind of the feel good part of it (#21). Another member said: The main benefit to me is knowing that Im helping to provide the opportunity for students to do this (#2). The survey of all members confirmed this community good orientation. Of the respondents, 98% felt that they are supporting the production of fresh vegetables for low-income people in our community, and 97% felt they are supporting an opportunity for students to learn about farming first hand, 94% of the members said it was very important to them to be contributing to an environmentally friendly agriculture, and 93% said it was very important to them to be supporting local farming. As with the PEAS students, long-time CSA members identified the benefits they thought the community got from the farm. The results were similar: (a) providing good, nutritious food for the community; (b) developing knowledge in the community regarding food and farming, including providing an educational opportunity for students and generally increasing awareness; (c) enhancing social ties; and (d) maintaining the physical space as a community benefit.

MFB Clients Knowledge


The survey of Missoula Food Bank (MFB) clients was quite brief, and we were not able to ask open-ended questions as with the other 2 groups. The 2 questions related to developing knowledge dealt with how important people felt it was (a) to have recipes available and (b) to have vegetables labeled as to how and where they were grown. Both recipes and labels were sometimes available at the MFB, but apparently not always. Approximately two-thirds of the clients surveyed indicated that having recipes (63%) and having labels (64%) were either somewhat or very

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important to them. This suggests (indirectly) that many of them do learn some things about how to cook certain vegetables and that they want to know about the food they get. However, there appears to be little opportunity for MFB clients to learn about food and the food system as a result of this particular community food initiative.

Sharing Ideas
We had no survey questions relevant to sharing ideas about food and the food system, because there seemed little opportunity for increased talk about food as a result of obtaining produce from the MFB. Certainly, some talk about food takes place during the course of a visit to the food bank, but talk relevant specifically to the fresh vegetables from the community farm seemed hard to query about.

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Efficacy
The principal way that the PEAS farm makes it possible for MFB clients to have some effect on their relationship to food is by making it possible for clients to obtain certain qualities of produce that are important to them. This happens in several ways. First, by coming to the food bank, produce with desired qualities is often available during the growing season. Almost every one of those surveyed said that having fresh vegetables available at MFB is somewhat (30%) or very (68%) important to them. As one client wrote in a comment section at the end of the survey: Every time I got fresh vegetables they were always very fresh. I was brought up farming and know the difference. I was very, very pleased with the freshness. Approximately two-thirds said that having vegetables that are grown locally is somewhat (39%) or very (31%) important to them, and about the same number said that having vegetables that are organically grown is somewhat (35%) or very (29%) important to them. Secondly, MFB clients do get to choose from among the available vegetables (and other foods), and they typically get to choose quantities during the growing season. Of our respondents, having a variety of fresh vegetables from which they can choose is somewhat (33%) or very (63%) important to them. Finally, although there is no formal way for MFB clients to give feedback about the vegetables, over the years the staff has noted which vegetables were left over and which disappeared quickly. Each year, the staff shares this information with GCH, and the quantities and types of vegetables have been adjusted accordingly. Thus, MFB clients have had

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a certain say in what vegetables are made available to them. In this regard, the clients surveyed said that it is somewhat (39%) or very (41%) important that the vegetables be easy to prepare, and quantities of some produce have been reduced if many clients did not know how to prepare them.

Community Good Orientation


This was another dimension that seemed to have little relevance to this group, since there was little opportunity for the clients to go beyond their self-interest to care about community well-being by simply obtaining fresh vegetables at the MFB. To the extent that they learned that other community members were growing vegetables for the MFB, however, they at least came into contact with others orientation toward the community good. Indeed, in the comment section at the end of the survey, a dozen or so of the respondents expressed thanks for the vegetables; for example, one wrote: Thanks to everyone for all your hard work to help your community. Yet, responses to our question asking if they were aware that there is a community farm located in the Rattlesnake neighborhood where university students grow vegetables all summer long for distribution at the food bank indicated that just over a quarter of the respondents knew about it (and 20% of those had visited the farm). When asked if they would like more information about the farm and community gardens, 42% of the respondents said yes.

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CONCLUSION
Though scholars and activists recognize that democratization of the agri-food sector is a central concern in contemporary food politics, there has been little articulation of the meaning of food democracy both theoretically and practically. This extended case study begins to fill that gap by using in-depth analysis of a particular food initiative to inform theoretical development. The most salient findings suggest that the 5 dimensions of food democracy proposed are useful conceptual tools for ascertaining the extent to which movement toward food democracy is occurring in practice. The PEAS farm and its associated partnerships illustrate organizational actors collaborating to address specific food system concerns in a particular place. The initiative requires considerable commitment from all of the

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partnering organizations, including the mobilization of financial, volunteer, and other resources. Yet, working together also enables these groups to effect change in ways they could not achieve independently and therefore increases their power. Certainly, the initiative does not address all sustainability concerns, but it does attend to identified needs, including reconnecting consumers to the source of their food through the CSA, providing quality produce to people who need and want it, and educating students and the community at large about food and farming. Perhaps most importantly, this collaborative action incubates a powerful public space for individuals to develop their capacities to act as food citizens by participating in food systems change in a meaningful way, albeit to varying degrees. Overall, all 4 dimensions of food democracy related to meaningful participation in the food system seem to be significant aspects of the PEAS students experiences. They learn a tremendous amount about growing food and the food system, although there is an opportunity and need for them to learn more about poverty and hunger. Both on and off the farm, they share ideas and discuss issues related to food and farming. With time, they develop confidence in their skills, which enables them to contribute more to farm decision-making and increases their sense of ownership. They have a quite remarkable effect on the local food system with the tons of food they produce. While their labor is unpaid, many of the students emphasize that improving the well-being of others is a definite benefit of their participation. In this way, students develop a sense of food citizenship in the course of their public work. Boyte15 explains the value of public work: When we help to build something, we experience it as ours. We gain authority and confidence to act, and a deep stake in governance. We have motivation to learn. The picture is quite different for CSA members. They do learn some things about cooking and eating new vegetables and a little about growing food and the food system. But the knowledge dimension is not nearly as prominent for them as it is for PEAS students. Similarly, the CSA members tend to talk somewhat more about food and farming as a result of their participation, but the dimension of sharing ideas (including deliberation and decision-making) is far less dynamic for CSA members than it is for students. Efficacy seems to be more personally oriented for CSA members (obtaining their desired quality of vegetables) and more public work oriented for PEAS students (producing vegetables for others). However, most CSA members feel that they are supporting the production of food for others, and such support is indeed

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critical to the operation. Nevertheless, even while they have moved beyond the limiting role of passive consumers, their role as food citizens is largely supportive of others, which perhaps reflects more of a communitarian view of citizenship emphasizing responsibility and volunteerism, rather than a public work perspective with its emphasis on citizen as producer.15 There is little evidence of the food democracy dimensions in the experience of MFB clients. They may find out a bit about some of their produce and occasionally try a new recipe, but there appears to be little learning involved in their role as recipients of the produce. While CSA members know quite a bit about where some of their food comes from, MFB clients do not, and many would like to. Likewise, the dimensions of sharing ideas about food issues and developing a community good orientation do not seem to be a part of the clients experiences as recipients of the farms produce. To some extent, however, they do recognize the community good orientation of others. The one dimension that is evident is their efficacy obtaining the quality of food they want, thanks to the fresh, local, organic produce provided by the farm. This is significant because many emergency food providers in the United States are not able to give their clients much fresh produce, and many pantries do not allow clients to choose their own items (shop as the MFB describes it), instead providing a prepared box of goods. While recognizing the value of the fresh produce that the PEAS farm provides to the MFB clients, it is also important to remind ourselves that charity often masks and depoliticizes the fundamental problem that causes hunger in the first placepoverty, which in an affluent society is a product of inequality.23,24 Indeed, the community food initiative described in this study does little to address the fact that nearly 15% of Missoula Countys population lives below the poverty line, according to the 2000 Census of Population. Yet, making fresh, organic, local produce available to all income levels is in some sense a step toward reducing inequality. Overall, the dimensions explored here seemed helpful as a lens for analyzing movement toward food democracy. In other words, they can be used to identify strengths as well as weaknesses in an alternative agrifood initiative with respect to its democratic characteristics. All dimensions are important to everyones relationship to food and the food system in a strong democracy. To the extent that any of these dimensions are weak or absent for one or more groups of people, achieving food democracy is still a ways off.

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