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From Colonialism To Green Capitalism: Social Movements And Emergence Of Food Regimes

H. Friedmann
Published 2005 · Economics
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This paper suggests that a corporate-environmental food regime is emerging as part of a larger restructuring of capitalism. Like past food regimes, it reflects specific social and political compromises, which I interpret through the social movement concept of interpretive frames. The diasporic-colonial food regime of 1870–1914 grew up in response to working class movements in Europe, and created a historically unprecedent class of commercial family farmers. When world markets collapsed, those farmers entered into new alliances, including one that led to the mercantile-industrial food regime of 1947–1973. Lineaments of a new food regime based on quality audited supply chains seems to be emerging in the space opened by impasse in international negotiations over food standards. Led by food retailers, agrofood corporations are selectively appropriating demands of environmental, food safety, animal welfare, fair trade, and other social movements that arose in the interstices of the second food regime. If it consolidates, the new food regime promises to shift the historical balance between public and private regulation, and to widen the gap between privileged and poor consumers as it deepens commodification and marginalizes existing peasants. Social movements are already regrouping and consolidation of the regime remains uncertain.
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