Reviewed by: Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Resilience
Secondary Theme: Environment and Environmental Inequality
The American Anthropological Association Task Force on World Food Problems was established to demonstrate the unique role of anthropologists in taking a global collaborative, interdisciplinary response to address the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to eliminate global hunger and poverty crises. It is deeply concerned with growing inconsistencies in global food production and access, creating emergencies necessitating integrated solutions across key stakeholders, including governments, NGO's, and professional organizations, to address current and future food needs of the world. The focus of this AAA Task Force roundtable session will be to facilitate discussion and action on the role of household and community gardens and urban agriculture in buffering the food security, nutrition, health and well-being of populations impacted by the ongoing massive global rural to urban transformations. Rapid urbanization worldwide, as a result of population growth, forced migration, and migrations of rural and indigenous peoples to cities from rural areas for employment raises several concerns. Will food systems be able to support this urban growth? How will local food security, food sovereignty, and the nutrition, health and well-being be addressed? What impact will urbanization have on diets and the double burden of infectious and chronic non-communicable disease? Will the fundamental right to food be further eroded? In what ways can urban agriculture and gardens as micro-level food systems be resistant, resilient, and adaptive? It is clear that household and community urban agriculture have a notable role in moderating social cohesion, cultural identity, and resilience in communities with some secondary benefits of providing access to fresh food and improving diet and health. The challenge for the future of a Food Systems Anthropology and a primary outcome for this Task Force roundtable discussion is to pay close attention to the socio-cultural, political-economic, and nutrition and health implications of multiple rural to urban transformations of household and community agriculture that are locally contextualized across global regions. This is particularly important since urban micro-level food systems are becoming a rapidly growing food production enterprise worldwide. Will there be an inevitable contested dynamic between climate change, environmental needs, and the local intensification of urban agriculture? Or will there be other multiple iterations of resistance, resilience, and adaptations across global regions and localities? Roundtable participants will address the challenges that this ongoing transformation presents with food system case studies from North America, Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia. Particular attention will be given to the role of anthropologists in 1) catalyzing engaged and participatory community food systems action research on the types of resistance, resilience, and adaptations of urban farming methods; 2) establishing improved food security and sovereignty for both rural and increasingly urban underserved populations; and 3) facilitating public discourse and policy discourse to reinforce and support sustainable futures for urban food systems worldwide.