Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
Chapter 21
The Social Vision of
the Alternative Food
Siddhartha Shome
The alternative food movement is much more than just about food. It claims to pro-
mote a more sustainable, more environmentally friendly and more just socio-economic
order. It is thus as much about politics as it is about food. As author Michael Pollan
(2006) is fond of saying, eating is “a political act.” The political acts that are promoted
by the alternative food movement are inspired by a certain social vision and a certain
ideology, as indeed all political acts are. This chapter seeks to explore and question the
social vision and the ideological outlook that shape the metanarrative of the alternative
food movement and define its value system. This exploration begins with a discussion of
some ideas and thoughts of Wendell Berry, one of the chief architects of the alternative
food movement's vision of American pastoralism. This is followed by a discussion of
some of the views associated with Vandana Shiva, a prominent figure in the alternative
food movement's vision of farmers and peasants in non-Western societies. This explora-
tion then proceeds to a brief discussion of alternative food movement's environmental
vision and contrasts this vision with that of two prominent American environmental-
ists. Finally, this exploration moves on to India, where the underlying ideology that
shapes the alternative food movement has long found expression in the broader political
discourse. The ideas of two prominent Indian leaders—one an exponent of this ideology
and one who critiqued it—are presented.
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