Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2014

Department 1

Environmental Studies


The tide is changing in food research and food movements. Both academic thought and grassroots mobilization have demonstrated a shift beyond merely the problems of industrial food, and toward an emphasis on issues of justice and equity within food systems (Sloccum, 2006; Alkon & Agyeman, 2011; Sbicca, 2012; Agyeman & McEntee, 2013). In examining the contemporary case of the Farm Alliance of Baltimore City, which is “a network of producers working to increase the viability of urban farming and improve access to urban grown foods, united by practices and principles that are socially, economically, and environmentally just” (Farm Alliance website, 2012), I pose the question: what are the historical, geographical, and socioeconomic factors of the city of Baltimore that create the demand for a food justice movement? The question is motivated by food justice (FJ) and urban political ecology (UPE) theoretical frameworks that situate current development trends within larger spatial and temporal—political, sociocultural and material—networks and legacies. In the following analysis, by exploring Baltimore’s industrial and racial history I attempt to explain why current socioeconomic and racial inequalities exist in the city’s current geographic and cultural landscape, and how those inequalities manifest in the city’s food system. The analysis takes on a threefold process of 1) discussing Baltimore’s industrial formation/post-industrial transformation, 2) assessing how these transformations have impacted the city’s spatial patterns and food system conditions, and 3) presenting action being taken at the grassroots level to improve the city’s current food situation. I find that not only are industrialization and institutional racism central forces in creating a demand for food justice in Baltimore, they are deeply intertwined in a way that shapes the city’s spatial conditions and its food system.


This paper was written for an Environmental Studies Independent Research Project (ES450).