Capitalism, Food, and Social Movements: The Political Economy of Food System Transformation


  • Eric Holt-Giménez Food First



Global Food Policies, Global North, Global South, Capitalism, Corporate Food Regime, Food Systems Countermovements, Peasant Farmers, Smallholders


Opening paragraph:

Do foodies need to know about capitalism? Every­body trying to change the food sys­tem—farmers, farmworkers, chefs, people fighting to end hunger and diet-related disease—all of us need to know about capitalism. Why? Because we have a capital­ist food system. After all, you wouldn’t start farm­ing without knowing something about growing plants, or start a website without knowing some­thing about computers, or fix the roof on a house without knowing something about carpentry. I know, most of us are too busy trying to solve prob­lems within the food system to sit around analyzing the food system as a whole. We concentrate on one or two issues—healthy food access, organic agriculture, GMO labeling, pesticide poisoning, seed sovereignty… The list is long. On top of that, we don’t really talk about capitalism in capitalist countries. Before the 2008 financial crash, it was awkward even to mention the term ‘capitalism.’ But the truth is our food and capitalism have co-evolved over the last 200 years. If we want to know about our food system, we have to know about capitalism. That way, we can change it.

See the press release for this article. 


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Author Biography

Eric Holt-Giménez, Food First

Executive Director (retired)

Logo for the Place-Based Food Systems conference



How to Cite

Holt-Giménez, E. (2019). Capitalism, Food, and Social Movements: The Political Economy of Food System Transformation. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 9(A), 23–35.