Taking the Pulse of Canada's Industrial Food System
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In the context of catastrophic climate change, reducing climate implications of food systems is a central challenge. Shifting diets away from meat towards protein-rich pulses reduces climate change-related pressures while offering myriad agronomic benefits. Yet how we produce pulses and not just that we produce pulses matters if those benefits are to be realized. Despite rapid growth, little research on industrial pulse sustainability exists. This research explored connections between world views and food systems in order to assess sustainability claims made by Canada’s industrial pulse sector. First, I distinguished the underlying productivism rooted in mechanistic models and ecologism rooted in holistic models, distinguishing food science from food systems paradigms and how they affect evidence. After contextualizing Canada’s pulse sector, I conducted a discourse analysis revealing shortcomings of conventional narratives on the concepts of choice, efficiency and safety. Next, I analysed eight lock-ins driving Canada’s industrial food system. Finally, I tested two Pulse Canada sustainability claims -- low carbon foot print and soil health—finding these claims ignore the reliance of industrial food systems on 1) petrochemicals and other mined inputs, and 2) excessive fossil energy. Canada’s pulse sector is vulnerable to both ecological shocks associated with industrial production and to social shocks associated with climate unrest and with policy changes that could curtail access to certain pesticides. By forcing pulses to conform to the economics of industrial production, Canada’s farm community bypasses pulses as transition crops toward a truly regenerative agriculture. Given the reality of unavoidable catastrophic climate breakdown, scholars must confront the elephant in the room that is globalized corporate capitalism driving unsustainable approaches to food systems. This paper calls for a radical re-orientation of the economy in the direction of food commons.
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Jodi Koberinski (2019). Taking the Pulse of Canada's Industrial Food System. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/14449