Sustainability and Social Justice

Date of Award


Degree Type

Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy (ES&P)


International Development, Community and Environment

Chief Instructor

Ramón Borges-Méndez


food systems, local, case study


The goal of this study was to design a new method of evaluating and building local food systems which is based on a new conception of how we view local food. Beginning with a review of the current literature on how local food is defined and its apparent goals, I begin to pick apart the dated idea that local needs not be more complex than the 400-mile limit offered by the USDA. Utilizing the literature review, I bring together a host of values that local food seems to (want to) embody and use these to form a pathway toward the creation of ideal food systems. I then evaluate this new value-based definition by applying it to three separate case studies in Hardwick, Vermont, Fort Worth, Texas, and Prince George’s County, Maryland. Each offers a unique perspective on food security, one of the six values embodied by local food, and provides insight into the ways this new system can be useful in working to make sustainable, equitable change in community food systems. I ultimately conclude that this new method which is value-centric in designing what our local food systems should look like is a non-comprehensive, valuable starting point to help us begin to evaluate our current food systems and how we would ideally like to see them.



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