My research utilizes historical and qualitative methods to examine how marginalized communities are organizing against environmental, and food inequities.
So far, my research has:
Documented how food justice organizations are challenging cultural assimilation and gentrification through urban agriculture programs that work with immigrants and formerly incarcerated peoples;
Detailed how the mobilizations of working class communities are challenging conventional food desert politics and the Walmart/Obama alliance through underscoring that demand-side policies of living-wage jobs, rather than supply-side policies of low food prices, are crucial to addressing the structural roots of inequities in food access, and;
Critiqued public-private partnerships designed to close the grocery gap because their supply-side strategies do not fully address the economic access barriers in low-income communities that are rooted in institutional racism and political and economic marginalization.
Currently, I am pursuing three lines of inquiry:
Urban Agriculture & Urban Development
This work explores the contradictory role of urban agriculture programs as a way to address the economic and political marginalization of communities of color as well as a facilitator of gentrification-oriented development projects, a dual-function that creates tension between urban agriculture projects, community development strategies, and City Hall-led redevelopment projects. Such work also explores the community-based conflicts that emerge between urban agriculturalists of different race and class identities and how these tensions are reflective of differing conceptions of community, development, and agriculture, and with them contrasting visions of the urban.
Food Systems and Democratization
This line of inquiry examines how food-based activism is working to democratize the food system through democratizing the State. Of particular focus is how participatory budgeting, food policy councils, and community food assessments are transforming the relationship between food systems and the State away from Big Food and Big Ag towards regional and local food systems grounded in participatory and equity-oriented principles and practices.
Food Desert Politics
Though autoethnography of my experience as a millennial foodie gentrifier (MFG) in Brooklyn I critique the dominant explanations for the ascendancy of the food desert trope that root it in broader political and economic structures: dominance of social ecology approach in public health; ascendancy of spatial analysis using geographic information systems (GIS); rising concerns over the economic costs associated with diet-related disease; how neoliberalism shapes the framing of social problems; bipartisan support of government subsidized tax incentive programs, and; a property market driven community development paradigm. These theories often lack any direct connection to how residents actually use the food desert concept, modify it, and/or reject it to suit their lived experiences. Through discussing my use of the food desert trope and the cultural and structural processes shaping my adoption of this language I articulate that the concept spoke to and is reflective of the cultural anxieties, status panic, and declass process shaping gentrifiers who previously had geographic access to quality grocery stores but lost it upon moving into a working class community of color.