An Urban Political Ecology of Food Insecurity in Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. stands out as the capital of one of the most powerful countries in the world—a national and international center whose hegemonic influence stretches across the globe—and yet many of its own citizens lack access to healthy and affordable food. Twelve percent of households in the city district experienced food insecurity between 2010-2012, while entire neighborhoods are considered food deserts. Using the lens of political ecology, this paper assesses how organizations and agencies approach food security through discourse, advocacy, and programs that actively increase food access to communities in the District. This research employs a case-based approach, drawing from interviews with nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and city residents about how food insecurity is experienced and how it is addressed in diverse ways. Furthermore, this paper explores how a city cannot only improve food security, but also encourage the production and consumption of healthy, sustainably grown food, often through urban agricultural practices. As local government, grassroots organizers, and city residents engage with one another to address the complex challenges to food access, urban communities such as those in D.C. can achieve greater social and environmental justice within the local and global food system.
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Abstract/Description: Washington D.C. stands out as the capital of one of the most powerful countries in the world—a national and international center whose hegemonic influence stretches across the globe—and yet many of its own citizens lack access to healthy and affordable food. Twelve percent of households in the city district experienced food insecurity between 2010-2012, while entire neighborhoods are considered food deserts. Using the lens of political ecology, this paper assesses how organizations and agencies approach food security through discourse, advocacy, and programs that actively increase food access to communities in the District. This research employs a case-based approach, drawing from interviews with nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and city residents about how food insecurity is experienced and how it is addressed in diverse ways. Furthermore, this paper explores how a city cannot only improve food security, but also encourage the production and consumption of healthy, sustainably grown food, often through urban agricultural practices. As local government, grassroots organizers, and city residents engage with one another to address the complex challenges to food access, urban communities such as those in D.C. can achieve greater social and environmental justice within the local and global food system.
Subject(s): Poor -- Nutrition -- Washington (D.C.)
Food consumption -- Washington (D.C.)
Washington (D.C.)
Date Issued: May 2014