Food Security

Present Day Research: The Elitist Narrative on Food Security

Present Day Research: The Elitist Narrative on Food Security

A gap exists in the conversations, research and activities on food systems and food deserts in West Virginia. This chasm represents the focus on sustainable farming practices and local foods on one end of a continuum in comparison to the need to address food deserts and food security for distressed, economically challenged regions and populations.

Solutions to sustainable farming practices and the production of local, healthy produce and vegetables results in food prices that are out of reach to economically distressed groups/ regions. Further, even where these products are managed in a more economically feasible way, they do not solve food deserts and the need for a full retail experience to secure all nutritional and household needs.

Problem Statement: In building out solutions to food deserts most projects have identified the concerns, vision, and goals of almost every food system stakeholder except the end users; families that live in food deserts. How are the ideals, preferences, and narratives of these families different from the narratives and goals of the food system stakeholders? Are we at risk of building a food system that fails to reflect the lived experiences of these families?

To examine this dilemma the following paper analyzed food system discourses for their portrayal of the preferences, needs and issues of low income, rural residents.

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(17), 6157;

The Curated Food System: A Limiting Aspirational Vision of What Constitutes “Good” Food

by Lauri Andress 1*, Carmen Byker Shanks 2*, Annie Hardison-Moody 3, T. Elaine Prewitt 4, Paul Kinder 5 and Lindsey Haynes-Maslow 3

In an effort to elucidate an aspirational vision for the food system and explore whether the characteristics of such a system inadvertently set unattainable standards for low-wealth rural communities, we applied discourse analysis to the following qualitative datasets: (1) interviews with food experts and advocates, (2) scholarly and grey literature, (3) industry websites, and (4) email exchanges between food advocates. The analysis revealed eight aspirational food system discourses: production, distribution, and infrastructure; healthy, organic, local food; behavioral health and education; sustainability; finance and investment; hunger relief; demand-side preferences; romanticized, community led transformations. Study findings reveal that of eight discourses, only three encompass the experiences of low-wealth rural residents. This aspirational food system may aggravate the lack of autonomy and powerlessness already experienced by low-wealth rural groups, perpetuate a sense of failure by groups who will be unable to reach the aspirational food vision, silence discourses that might question those that play a role in the inequitable distribution of income while sanctioning discourses that focus on personal or community solutions, and leave out other policy-based solutions that address issues located within the food system. Further research might explore how to draw attention to silenced discourses on the needs and preferences of low-wealth rural populations to ensure that the policies and programs promoted by food system experts mitigate poor diets caused by food insecurity. Further research is needed to inform policies and programs to mitigate food insecurity in low-wealth rural populations. View Full-Text