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MASTERS THESIS

 A key characteristic in contemporary power is neutralizing beliefs and values in policy

THE PROBLEM

'Food Justice: An Analysis of How Linguistic Practices in Policy Erode Food Security and How to Take Action' highlights anthropology's contribution in policy research, strategy, and advocacy:

  •  Demonstrates how domestic agriculture policies have unitentionally fostered food insecurity, while using language intentionally as a mechanism to legitimize specific ideologies in discource (policy)

  • How anthropological theory and methods can be used in social policy and advocacy

  • Provide recommendations for food justice organizations to strengthen their advocacy efforts

THE DESIGN

The initial source of information for the thesis was collected over 300 hours during an internship with Community Food & Justice Coalition (CFJC) in Oakland, Ca.

Critical discourse analysis was the framework used to charge policy and policymaking as performative utterances which rely on power and manipulation (through language) to achieve its goals. 

Two case studies were used as examples illustrating how institutional ideologies are normalized through policy.

Ethnography was used to provide inisghts into 3 strategic areas for CFJC to leverage their advocacy efforts around

"People are betterin' their health by the power they have to grow their own foods, so our first landmark is to grow your own self"

THE FINDINGS

Making sense of it all: With the information collected through surveys, interviews, and participant observation (site visits and active participation with stakeholders) my findings were analyzed using statistical data, triangulation, and thematic coding. While each farm had different mission statements, both believed that the presence of urban farming led to community empowerment. It was further thought that through empowerment, visitors of the urban farms would gain a sense of community, and increased education which would ultimately contribute to lifestyles changes. Alternatively, visitor and volunteers of urban farms felt that their association with UA led to a connection of their cultural or ancestral roots. It also provided them with a sense of place (belonging) and a source to obtain fresh produce. 

Actionable Advice: End user insights suggested few residents were taking advantage of the fresh produce made available to them. Strengthening visitor touchpoints and engagement with clear signage of produce, farm hours, and location, were offered as quick actionable strategies that would increase plant knowledge, and help market the service. A rebranding effort would also be beneficial in order to align the mission of the farm to the needs of the surrounding households. As it stands, those interacting with the farm use its space as an inner-city safe zone, as well as, a place to connect with their community and do community service.

80% of West Oakland farm participants thought Community was most important

STATS & NUMBERS

75% of East Oakland farm participants thought Fresh Produce was most important

What is most important to you about an urban farm in your community?

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