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Placing Food Systems in First World Political Ecology: A Review and Research Agenda

Abstract

In this paper, I review recent political ecological scholarship on first world agrifood systems and advocate for further development of the field. To do so, I first briefly examine the themes of first world political ecology and argue that food systems is an underdeveloped topic in first world political ecology relative to other themes because of the existence of agrarian political economy, a strongly allied field. This requires interrogating and teasing apart the relationship between political ecology and agrarian political economy. I then turn to review the current "political ecology of first world food systems" literature, which is both in line with established political ecological contours - examining global-local connections, conservation and degradation, and the utility of ecological metrics - but also recently extending analysis to alternative food networks and to the body-consumption nexus. In the conclusion, I outline an agenda for political ecological research praxis focused on increased interdisciplinary work with biophysical and technical scientists; the spatial, social, economic margins; the "invisible middle" of the food industry and the "end" of the food system in human waste and the necessity of mending the metabolic rift; and the need for increased societal engagement by political ecologists. © 2013 The Author(s) Geography Compass © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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