Despite their opposition to the dominant agri-food system, alternative agri-food initiatives may unwittingly reproduce central features of neoliberalism. Julie Guthman has been a particularly strong proponent of this view, arguing that food activism and neoliberalism have shaped one another dialectically in California in recent decades. This paper responds to her argument, with a view to distinguishing between what it reveals and what it may conceal about the transformative potential of alternative agri-food initiatives in North America. Drawing on primary research on a variety of community-based food initiatives in Eastern Ontario, Canada, we show how a neoliberal lens does help to illuminate some problematic characteristics of these initiatives, including assumptions about market-based solutions and focus on self-improvement at the expense of state involvement. However, this lens underestimates those aspects of community-based food initiatives that may appear commensurate with neoliberal rationalities but which also push in more progressive directions.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Community food initiatives, Food access, Food justice, Local food, Neoliberalism
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1080/13549839.2014.908277
Journal Local Environment
Citation
Andrée, P, Ballamingie, P, & Sinclair-Waters, B. (Brynne). (2015). Neoliberalism and the making of food politics in Eastern Ontario. Local Environment, 20(12), 1452–1472. doi:10.1080/13549839.2014.908277