Earlier this month, textbook publisher Routledge released a new anthology, titled “Just Green Enough,” featuring contributions from a number of different professors about the harms of “environmental gentrification.” In one of the chapters of the book, two Geography professors at San Diego State University (SDSU) viciously attacked farmers’ markets for being “exclusionary” places that contribute to the gentrification of a community.
Specifically, Pascale Joassart-Marcelli and Fernando J Bosco, both professors of Geography, argue in the chapter that farmers’ markets are “exclusionary” for several reasons. One of the things, according to the two professors, that makes them exclusionary is the fact that some locals may not be able to afford the food. They also claim that they’re exclusionary because some people may feel excluded from them due to the “whiteness of farmers’ markets” and the “white habitus [that they can reinforce].”
Their reasoning, however, it utterly ridiculous. First, the fact that some people may not be able to afford a product does not make something exclusionary. If being unaffordable to some people is what makes something exclusionary, then McDonald’s, 99 cent stores, Walmart, and pretty much any other company that sells products or services for a price are also exclusionary because some people may not be able to afford what’s being offered. But clearly, this is absurd.
Second, “the whiteness of farmers’ markets” also doesn’t necessarily make them exclusionary. Something can be made up of mostly one race of people without excluding others.
Instead, what makes something exclusionary is it being available to only a select group of people. Since anyone can go to farmers’ markets, even people from out of town, they, by definition, don’t exclude people.
With regards to farmers’ markets contributing to gentrification, the two professors pointed to recent research conducted in San Diego that shows 44% of the city’s farmers’ markets are “located in census tracts with a high rate of gentrification.” According to them, this shows that farmers’ markets “attract households from higher socioeconomic backgrounds, raising property values and displacing low-income residents and people of color.”
They also claimed that farmers’ markets work against others who are trying to improve the community. “The most insidious part of this gentrification process is that alternative food initiatives work against the community activists and residents who first mobilized to fight environmental injustices and provide these amenities but have significantly less political and economic clout than developers and real estate professionals,” they wrote.
But their reasoning here is equally ridiculous. Just because many farmers’ markets can be found in gentrified neighborhoods doesn’t mean they had anything to do with the gentrification.
Plus, when it comes to low-income and minority communities, farmers’ markets are actually really beneficial. This is because, oftentimes, they’re created to help out people who live in so-called “food deserts,” which are areas that have “limited access to affordable and nutritious food.”
Before concluding, the two professors wrote about how to go about combating the gentrification process. “Strong community involvement [is necessary to ensure that] the needs of the poorest…residents are prioritized,” they explained. In addition to strong community involvement, they claimed that gentrification can also be combated by local governments establishing “equitable zoning policies, rent-control laws, and property tax reforms in favor of long-time homeowners.”
Sadly, Joassart-Marcelli and Bosco aren’t the only liberal professors to recently have an absolutely absurd essay published. A few months ago, for instance, a liberal professor at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) wrote an essay in support of “destructive demonstrations.” According to him, they’re useful because they help get national attention.
“Today, pundits and scholars are calling on students to employ the tactics of moral suasion — that is, appealing to the sympathies of opponents and decision-makers to change policies they disagree with. Moral suasion is rooted, partly, in the philosopher John Stuart Mill’s call to allow good ideas to defeat bad ones via civil discourse,” began Bradley.
“[But] moral suasion works only when the opposing party is sympathetic and willing to act upon that which is just. Where civil dialogue failed, it took activism and agitation to create the positions in African-American studies [for people like] Professor West,” he continued, unconvinced that moral suasion will be effective.
“To be sure, disruption should not be mistaken for violence, and inflicting physical harm (not counting self-defense) on opponents and property often derails a just cause,” clarified Bradley, before going on to justify destructive demonstrations. “At times…it is the violent or destructive demonstrations that draw the attention of the wider public and motivates decision makers to act,” he stated, noting, “the response of the institution to nonviolent disruption often determines the reaction of agitators. Some will quibble about what constitutes self-defense or even violence, but America’s past has proved that the powers of persuasion do not often yield just results.”
Essays like the one written by Joassart-Marcelli and Bosco highlight just how insane some of the reasoning on the left truly is. Hopefully, their critique is largely ignored so that farmers’ markets can continue helping those in need.