Centre for Rural Economy
School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development
University of Newcastle upon Tyne
+44(0)191 222 5677 (direct dial)
Dr Elizabeth Oughton, Dr Jane Midgley and Professor Philip Lowe
What promise do “local” foods hold for our global era?
I grew up on a small farm in rural New Jersey during a period of rapid farmland loss. Curious about how the values of place, economics, and community identity interact, I pursued a BSc in Environmental Studies at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. During a semester abroad in Norwich, England in the spring of 2002, I was captivated by the popularity of farmers' markets and their potential to support smaller-scale farming operations. Despite growing up in a rural area in a metropolitan region, this was the first time I encountered a farmers’ market. As a result, farmers’ markets – and their ability to link producers and consumers to the landscape – served as inspiration for both my BSc thesis and Masters’ thesis at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment.
From 2005 to 2010, I was actively working on federal policy for local food systems and healthy food access in Washington, DC for the Northeast Midwest Institute (2005-2009) and the Wallace Center (2009). This included the passage of several new laws in the 2008 US Farm Bill: a priority for local food projects in the Rural Business and Industries Loan Guarantee program (Section 6015), the Healthy Urban Food Enterprise Development Center, and a USDA Food Desert Study. In 2009, I started a consulting firm, Local Food Strategies LLC. Since then I worked on farm to school legislation, policy research for a national grocery store financing program, served as a grant reviewer for the USDA Community Food Projects grant program, assisted with a Congressional Hearing on Health and Food Access, and produced reports surveying local community responses to obesity and credit access for young, beginning, and small farmers involved in organic and local food sectors. I have worked with interest groups across the farm and food sector, including sustainable agriculture, mainstream agriculture, social justice, rural development, minority farmer rights, and environmental groups.
Having worked in policy only in the US, I wanted to undertake a cross-cultural comparison of how local food policies have developed in the US and in the UK, to develop a deeper perspective on the policy process and drives behind the growing local food sector. Some of the questions I hope to address in my PhD research are:
How does a decentralized social movement, like that for local food, develop and implement national policy?
Alan R. Hunt (2007) “Consumer interactions and influences on farmers’ market vendors.” Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems.
Alan Hunt and Peter Rogers (2001) Book Review: “Clark C. Gibson, Politicians and Poachers: the political economy of wildlife policy in Africa.” Africa. vol. 71, iss. 4, p. 732.
Alan Hunt (2009) “Selling Locally: New market, familiar challenges.” Farm Bureau News.
Alan. R. Hunt (2008) “Thinking Outside the Cereal Box”. Guest author, Grist.org.