Farm to School (FTS) programs aim to connect school children with local foods, to promote a synergistic relationship between local farmers, child nutrition and education goals, and community development. Drawing from 18 months of ethnographic research with a regional FTS project and interviews with child nutrition program operators (POs) implementing FTS across Georgia, we identify perceptions of food safety as an emerging barrier in efforts to bring local foods into schools. Conducting a thematic analysis of data related to food safety, we find that FTS participation may be hindered by discourses and perceptions of safety risks attributed to local foods—and to local produce in particular. We argue that this results, paradoxically, from a core tenant of FTS and other local food movements: forging personal relationships with farmers, through which POs confront the transparency of local food production, in contrast to the opacity of food procured through standard supply chains. Faced with unfamiliar production practices, and responsibilized to protect students as “at risk” subjects, POs may decide that buying local food is “not worth the risk.”
Agriculture and Human Values – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 22, 2016
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