Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal offers an annual award for newly published research or thinking that has been recognized to be outstanding by members of the Food Studies Research Network.
Changing perceptions in farming and food policy have partisan implications for American politics. The changing perceptions of farms, farmers, food, agriculture and environment, animal welfare, and food democracy have created liberal and conservative partisan positions in food policy. Political science theories of issue evolution, issue ownership, policy diffusion, and morality policy anticipate partisan sorting on food issues when certain conditions are met. This article will explain the politically meaningful perceptual changes in food politics from a conventional view to a progressive view. It will then examine the way four political science theories explain and predict these changes in the political identity of food.
Agriculture and food issues are traditionally accepted as bipartisan in American Politics. Historically, food issues and policies were fairly technical and based on economic and material concerns, allowing for political compromise. However, changing perceptions of farms, farmers, food, agriculture, sustainability, animal welfare and food democracy are creating ideological and moral issues for liberals and conservatives, making compromise much more difficult. With increased polarization in American Politics, these developments suggest that food and agriculture policy is ripe for partisan picking. The concern is that effective food policy requires technical and material consideration—and it certainly requires bipartisan cooperation in the long-haul. Political science predicts the political identity of food will change when it becomes moral and ideological. It also predicts that sub-national innovation (at the state level) will lead the way. Since food policy in the United States is typically studied by agricultural economists, few scholars use political science theory to explain the political future of food. I published this research to anticipate the political implications of the new food movement, and the Common Ground Knowledge Community provided an excellent forum for a theoretical consideration of the new food politics in Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal.
—Rebecca Harris, PhD