Preferring Rabbits To Revolution: A Comparative Analysis of Marxist and Local Food Movement Critiques of Capitalist Agriculture


  • Mailyn Fidler Science, Technology, and Society, Stanford University


Marxism, Local food, Movement, Agriculture, Bay Area


The Local Food Movement (LFM) in the United States promotes dramatic changes in agriculture that favor environmentally and socially progressive farming. LFM participants emphasize the importance of the health of the land and the need for radical, strategic change in agricultural production. They advocate for small, diversified, organic, owner-operated or collectively owned farms that distribute food locally. These goals reference their complaints about the current agricultural system in the U.S., namely, its domination by corporate and large farms, environmentally damaging techniques, and harmful labor systems. These critiques echo the analysis done by one of the central critics of capitalist agriculture, Karl Marx. Marx decried the systematic mistreatment of workers and degradation of the soil that came from modern capitalists' increasing mechanization and privatization of agriculture.  Considering the resonance between these two platforms, this paper analyzes the LFM using Marx's criticisms of capitalist agriculture as a comparative framework with which to evaluate the effectiveness of LFM efforts. This paper focuses on the California LFM, an epicenter of the movement, as a case study and draws specifically on ethnographic insights from Bay Area LFM participants. The comparison of the LFM and Marxist approaches reveals constraints on the LFM's potential impact on U.S. agriculture and suggests that the movement is without a viable strategy for large-scale change.






Research Articles