The Food Movement: Growing White Privilege, Diversity, or Empowerment?


  • Kelly Moore University of Florida
  • Marilyn E. Swisher University of Florida



Diversity Model, Empowerment Model, Food Movement, White Privilege, Ladder of Participation


Food systems work is both a stimulus to the growth of the food movement and a response to the concerns of the activists who lead and participate in that movement. In the United States and many other nations, the development of a vocal, articulate, and passionate group of people who are critical of food systems work has led to many changes. However, the food movement lacks diversity representative of the communities in which food systems work takes place. People of color, the poor, and many ethnic and religious minorities remain almost invisible in the food movement. A diversity model approach to food systems work would suggest that the food movement should include people of diverse backgrounds and characteristics, reflect the needs and interests of a diverse society, and respect everyone's food choices and values in determining solutions and creating alternatives to the current food system. Instead, the food movement most often reflects white, middle class interests, and ignores or even rejects the interests and cultural histories of diverse populations when establishing what constitutes "good food." We call for an empowerment model that instead embraces diversity and respects the variability in food choices and values within our society. We argue this model will liberate both the underrepresented and underserved and the elite and that the result will be more equitable and lasting solutions to complex social problems in the food system.

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Author Biographies

Kelly Moore, University of Florida

School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Florida; P.O. Box 110310; Gainesville, Florida 32611-0310 USA; +1-352-273-3508.

Marilyn E. Swisher, University of Florida

Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, University of Florida; P.O. Box 110310; Gainesville, Florida 32611-0310 USA; +1-352-273-3538.



How to Cite

Moore, K., & Swisher, M. E. (2015). The Food Movement: Growing White Privilege, Diversity, or Empowerment?. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 5(4), 115–119.

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