Food Studies International Award for Excellence

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.

Award Winner for Volume 7

Food and Form-of-Life: A Philosophical Argument for Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture

The two visions of food and agriculture that are currently dominant rely on opposing categories of justifications. Proponents of conventional agriculture rely on a simple justification of means by ends, specifically increasing total food production. On the other hand, proponents of traditional or alternative forms of agriculture appeal to many and varied motivations. Collectively, they rely on a justification of the ends by the means—the significant categories of supporting logic for this vision being how food is produced, by whom, and where. Giorgio Agamben, in his book “Means without Ends,” provides a way to not only collect the arguments for alternative and traditional food production methodologies, but to do so in a manner that highlights the competing political and philosophical foundations of these two visions. He connects the justification by ends with naked life and the justification by means with form-of-life. Form-of-life is a life for which what is at stake in living is the pattern of life itself. Naked life, on the other hand, is pure biological existence and does not include any definition by quality of life. The political and philosophical implications of this connection between forms-of-life, categories of justification, and an analysis of the currently opposing visions of food and agriculture lead to an argument for a concentration on urban and peri-urban agriculture which claims, in short, that in order to expand the potential for more authentic political lives, we need to have the capacity to live lives embedded in the landscapes of food production.


“Food and Form-of-Life: A Philosophical Argument for Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture” represents a temporary intellectual resting point for ideas I have been working on for a number of years. It attaches a political imperative based on freedom to a particular proposal for urban form which respectfully engages both human bodies and the earth through the medium of food, and therefore landscape. My hope is that the article provides another way of entry into the question “why?” regarding urban and peri-urban food production. If those of us involved in this field can gain clarity on our motivation, we will hopefully be more efficacious with our actions.

—Jody Beck

Past Award Winners

Volume 6

The Political Identity of Food: Partisan Implications of the New Food Politics

Rebecca Harris, Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp. 1-20


Volume 5

Tradition and Modernity: Industrial Food, Women, and Visual Culture in 1950s and 1960s Italy

Dr. Silvia Bottinelli, Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.1-17


Volume 4

"Good" Food as Family Medicine: Problems of Dualist and Absolutist Approaches to "Healthy" Family Foodways

Julie M. Parsons, Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp.1-13


Volume 3

A Program to Increase Dietary Consumption of Plant-based Foods among University Students

Catherine Faver and Tina Schiefelbein, Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.57-63


Volume 2

GM Foods Regulation: Coming to Terms with the Lay Conception of Risk

Lyne Letourneau, Olga Carolina Cardenas Gomez and Vincent Richard, Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.15-29


Volume 1

Food-Away-From-Home (FAFH) Expenditure Patterns for Ghanaian Urban Households: Effects of Income, Gender and Household Demographics

Robert Aidoo, Kwasi Ohene-Yankyera and Vincent Abankwah, Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp.1-14