Eating in Urban Frontiers: Alternative Food and Gentrification in Chicago
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While scholars and activists have analyzed the consequences of a largely white, middle-class membership in the alternative food movement, lesser consideration has been given to the relationship food has with gentrification processes. On Chicago's West Side, alternative food spaces such as gardens, restaurants and farmers markets are staking a physical and cultural claim in longstanding communities of color. Food is perhaps unique and more powerful than prior initiators of gentrification such as art due to its mundane, everyday qualities that intersect with its ability to uphold class distinctions. Using qualitative interviews, participant-observation and a literature review, I will examine how alternative food contributes to and is a form of resistance against the uprooting of longstanding Puerto Rican and Mexican communities on Chicago's West Side. Readers who have an investment in the alternative food movement must be conscientious of these tensions and consider resisting gentrification by creating inclusive, intercultural food spaces.