Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Food as commons or commodity in academia

Good article (Vivero-Pol, Journal of Rural Studies, July 2017) on the topic. Food is a human right, not a privilege for only those that can afford it. It's about time academia got with the Collaborative Commons agenda if it wants to have a positive impact on  humanity instead of catering to corporate sponsors. An excerpt of the abstract:

"Food systems primary goal should be to nourish human beings. And yet, the current industrial food system, with its profit-maximising ethos, is not achieving that goal despite producing food in excess. On the contrary, this system is the main driver of malnutrition on the planet, as well as environmental degradation. Nonetheless, food systems also play a double role as Nature's steward. Deciding which role we want food systems to play will very much depend on the idea we have about food. What is food for humans? The dominant narrative of the industrial food system undeniably considers food as a tradeable commodity whose value is mostly determined by its price. This narrative was crafted and disseminated initially by academics, who largely favoured one option (commodification of food) over the others (food as commons or public good)."

"In this research, the author aims to understand how academia has explored the value-based considerations of food as commodity and private good (hegemonic narratives) compared to considerations of food as commons and public good (alternative narratives). This result points to the ontological absolute 'food is a private good' developed by the economic scholars as a dominant narrative that locked other valuations of food by legal, political or historical scholars or non-scientific epistemologies. In a world where the industrial food system has clearly proven its unfitness to feed us adequately in a sustainable way, the need for academia to explore other food valuations seems more urgent than ever. Scholars need to approach other narratives of food (as commons or public good) that go beyond the hegemonic and permitted ideas, unlocking unexplored food policy options to guarantee universal access to food for all humans, regardless their purchasing power, without mortgaging the viability of our planet."

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