Review of “Black, White and Green: Farmers Markets, Race and the Green Economy”

Black, White, and Green: Farmers Markets, Race, and the Green EconomyBlack, White, and Green: Farmers Markets, Race, and the Green Economy by Alison Hope Alkon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Very well done snapshot of a piece of the Northern California local food system, especially its history. As much as I thought I knew, I learned some more about how it began from this book. I appreciated that this book was centered around these two farmers markets and their environmental and social justice leanings, which is a great lens to view multiple types of organizing, intentions and sets of outcomes.
I especially like the time she takes to link the work in each market to their larger community goals AND to the economic goals of the green economy.

here are some wonderful passages on the tensions and values of this emerging alternative system:

“One becomes an environmentalist, for example, through the consumption of green products such as organic food rather than the traditional means of voting, lobbying or attending protests. While this strategy allows supporters to inscribe their social movement goals into their everyday life practices. it also creates individuals who infuse the logic of the market into both their ordinary behavior and their desires for social change (Larner and Craig 1999)”

“The promise of the green economy is that the market can be made to value, and therefore to protect, humans and the environment.”

“In these markets, actors choose from among competing narratives to envision and emphasize the spaces where buying and selling green products leads to environmental protection and social justice.”

“Furthermore, proponents of the social change potential of the green economy attempt to redefine capitalism not as an exploitative system that must be overcome or restricted in order to protect people and the environment but as a tool to create a more just and sustainable world.”

“…Working towards these goals (environmental sustainability and social justice) becomes possible, in part, because participants in each farmers markets define environment and justice in ways that render them compatible with one another.”

“The compatibility between sustainability and justice achieved at these farmers markets is not inherent. Farmers market managers, as well as some vendors and regular customers, actively work to conceptualize strategies that speak to both goals.”
>As a community food system organizer, I believe this book is a necessary whistle stop on anyone’s travels to successful organizing around food.
Take the time to read this thoughtful book and then pass it along to your friends and comrades.

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