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Food Fight: Family Farms

Two food system approaches

The following is a look at two opposite approaches to the food system, the corporate and the “food circle” approach. The “food circle,” a way to challenge corporate control of the food system and to restore family farms and rural communities, was devised by food activist Ben Kjelshus and promoted throughout the United States by the Food Circle Networking project.

Corporate approach

  • Food system centrally controlled by a few transnational corporations
  • Logic of globalization
  • Domination over nature
  • Industrial, petrochemical-based -- leads to an unsustainable food system
  • Profit motivated -- food safety, nutritional values of food and environmental values of lesser concern
  • Separates consumers from food production -- consumers do not know where their food comes from
  • Devastates family farms and rural communities, and makes urban communities vulnerable
  • Intensive, factory-type production of meats for the table -- characterized by inhumane treatment of animals
  • Wealth flows to corporate coffers

Food circle approach

  • Food system controlled by communities and regions -- by farmers, consumers, local retailers and processors, and others
  • Logic of local/regional self-reliance
  • Production for use
  • Harmony with nature
  • Ecologically based -- promotes a sustainable food system
  • Motivated by values that people and the environment really matter -- promotes safe, fresh and nutritious food, and sustainable agriculture
  • Links farmers, consumers and others in regional settings -- consumers know where their food comes from
  • Strengthens family farms, and both rural and urban communities
  • Ecologically based production of meats for the table -- characterized by humane treatment of animals
  • Wealth largely remains in areas where food is produced and consumed

National Catholic Reporter, May 31, 2002