Greetings current and future GFASG members! The Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group is pleased to welcome you all to this year’s Annual Meeting in Chicago.
Building on the momentum of last year’s conference, our Specialty Group has been working behind the scenes to support agri-food interests within the AAG. No surprise, but agri-food issues are becoming increasingly popular among geographers. Our membership rosters climbed by about 50% to 359 members since last year, and we received a much larger number of requests for session sponsorship this year. In the end, we sponsored nearly fifty sessions at this year’s Annual Meeting, and quick keyword search of abstracts came up with about 150 papers with a keyword of “agriculture” and well over 200 papers focusing on “food”!
The GFASG-sponsored sessions cover a range of topics, from campus food to the farm bill. Both human and physical geographers are engaging with food, covering issues like climate change, public health, and agro-ecological sustainability from multidisciplinary perspectives. And geographers’ engagement with urban agriculture seems to be keeping pace with its skyrocketing popularity in cities across the world, with nearly 40 presentations this year relating to urban gardens and farms.
Finally, we’re very pleased to see a growing interest in labor among agri-food scholars at this year’s AAG. Multiple sessions concerning agricultural labor and food movements highlight the increasing awareness among food studies scholars and activists that “knowing where your food comes from,” should also include knowing who picked it, who processed it, and who prepared it. On this note, our Specialty Group Highlighted Session this year is called “Labor/workers across the food chain: Building collaborations between activists and academics” (Friday at 5:20pm) and builds on last year’s successes in bringing geographers into conversation with labor activists working in the field and behind the factory and kitchen door. Last year we brought representatives from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to a panel bringing activists into conversation with geographers. Our panel this year draws attention to other labor nodes in the food chain, from production to distribution to processing to preparation to consumption. We’re excited to welcome JoAnn Lo, Co-Director of the Food Chain Workers Alliance, and Felipe Tendick-Matesanz, National High Road Coordinator at Restaurant Opportunities Center United to this panel. AAG Enrichment Funds have made this possible.
Finally, we’re really excited to announce the winner of the first ever GFASG Graduate Student Research Grant. We had 24 applications, many more than we anticipated. The selection committee was thrilled with the quality of graduate student research on food and agriculture – it was a very difficult decision. Congratulations to Elsie Lewison, PhD Candidate in Human Geography at the University of Toronto, for her excellent proposal.
We’re looking forward to seeing old members and meeting new ones this year! We’ll be at the GFASG mixer from 5:30 to 7:30 on Wednesday at The Gage (24 S. Michigan Avenue) or if you see us in the hallway at the conference, please say hi and introduce yourself. Have a great conference!
Nathan McClintock, GFASG Chair
Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern, GFASG Co-Chair