Embargo Period


Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Dr. Udi Butler


Food and climate are closely intertwined, with the high-emissions U.S. industrial food system contributing to climate change, while a changing climate produces new food system vulnerabilities, which will particularly impact those of the least means. This research is premised on the need to transform our food system, and to define what this vision looks like at the local level, while centering questions of power, justice and rights. It explores how groups, organizations and individuals engaged in local food system change envision transformation and understand corresponding social justice concerns, in a changing climate. It looks at opportunities for food and climate work to intersect, and perceptions of a Green New Deal vision.

Using a case study, I explore this topic through the perspectives of food system stakeholders in one small New England city, Worcester, Massachusetts. The findings indicate that visions for a just food system and pathways for change interact with broader ideas about the influence of extractive capitalism, neoliberalism, and structures of oppression. Those who centered broader social and economic transformation in their food vision tended to talk about food, climate and social justice as an integrated whole and to highlight the role of social movements. I found commonalities in ideas for the landscape of change, belief in knowledge-sharing and collaboration, and desire for municipal prioritization of local food. Recommendations include strengthening spaces to develop a more reflexive food justice approach, building collaborations that bridge food and climate, and heightening the municipal commitment toward a just, thriving local food system.


Environmental Studies | Food Security | Food Studies | Nature and Society Relations | Politics and Social Change | Urban Studies


Image Location