Class Conscious, Color-Blind: Examining the Dynamics of Food Access and the Justice Potential of Farmers Markets


Although often intended to address injustices in food access, farmers markets tend to cater to affluent communities, and to exclude on the basis of race and class. One means of addressing this is federal subsidy programs, like the Senior Farmers Market Nutritional Program (SFMNP). We explore the dynamics of the SFMNP program in Memphis' farmers market landscape in 2011. We examine the visible barriers experienced by SFMNP patrons to market access including delays in establishing the program in a largely African-American neighborhood, and the more subtle barriers such as perceptions of more affluent markets as white spaces. We then explore some successful efforts to make these issues visible and address them, including activism on the part of seniors and public dialog in social media. Despite this, we find that ongoing resistance to acknowledging farmers markets as spaces of racial inequality continues to challenge their food justice potential.

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Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment