The Visible Hands That Feed

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The Visible Hands That Feed

Responsibility and Growth in the Food Sector

Ruzana Liburkina

Our Sustainable Future Series

236 pages
2 photographs, 2 charts, index

Hardcover

August 2023

978-1-4962-3029-4

$55.00 Pre-order

About the Book

The Visible Hands That Feed provides crucial insights into the rifts and regularities that are characteristic of today’s food systems. These insights attend to the widespread disquiet about the ethics and politics of food production and trade. While challenging utopian thinking, these findings give hope by elaborating on the promising nature of what falls between political and moral agendas.

In The Visible Hands That Feed Ruzana Liburkina approaches the food sector against the backdrop of its pivotal role for social and ecological relations to trace the potentials and limitations for sustainable change from within. Drawing on the results of ethnographic fieldwork in Europe and South America, Liburkina conducts an in-depth exploration of the practices, visions, concerns, and relationships that unfold at the very locations where food is grown, processed, stored, and served. By scrutinizing two critical notions in relation to sustainability—responsibility and growth—Liburkina offers insights into how sustainable change might be understood and further supported. In this first study of food production and provisioning that is grounded in participant observation in four types of food sector enterprises—farms, food processing companies, foodservice distributors, and public caterers—Liburkina fills an important gap in the literature on sustainable futures by offering detailed and diverse empirical insights into corporate food production and provisioning.

Author Bio

Ruzana Liburkina is a cultural anthropologist and a research associate in the Faculty of Social Sciences at Goethe University Frankfurt in Germany.

Praise

“An important, nuanced, and innovative take on the subject of agriculture and food. I appreciate the contrast between the small farmers in Germany who think that they are setting a moral example for the world on how to farm and the Uruguayan rice farmers who pity the European farmers who are so dependent on subsidies that they are a drain on their societies. This brilliantly captures how farmers think about their lives in contrast to other farmers.”—Leland Glenna, professor of rural sociology and science, technology, and society at Pennsylvania State University

“Ruzana Liburkina provides very nice ethnographic accounts of the lived experiences of those inhabiting different locations along the food value chain. The stories told are compelling, from an empirical point of view, and moving. This book makes a clearly novel contribution.”—Michael Carolan, author of The Sociology of Food and Agriculture

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Part 1. Introduction
1. Navigating Food Supply Chains to Find Seeds of Sustainable Futures
2. Opposing Agendas and Fragmented Realities in the Food Sector
Part 2. Responsibility
3. The Sway of Demand in the Afterlife of Consumption
4. The Inconsistencies of Audit Culture in the Food Sector
5. Perseverant Partial Responsibilities for Others
Part 3. Growth
6. Strategic Scalability of Social Connectedness
7. Embracing and Rejecting the Vision of Growth in Practice
8. How Compromises Compromise Totalizing Visions
Part 4. Conclusions
9. Implications for Rethinking and Reshaping Food Systems
Notes
References
Index

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