Redesigning the Future of On-line Food Consumption

Figure 4. Prototype interface for the urban farms GUI

REDESIGNING ON-LINE FOOD CONSUMPTION
TO ENHANCE RACIAL AND SOCIAL INCLUSION THROUGH GENERATIVE PRODUCTION NETWORKS

Keesa V. Johnson1, Ron Eglash2*

1Penny Stamps School of Art and Design, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

2School of Information, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

ABSTRACT

The food system in the US has supported growing dominance of industrial agriculture, corporate distribution chains, and other means by which power is exerted at the expense of environmental sustainability, citizen health and wealth inequality. Economic impacts have been most damaging to low resourced and racialized communities. Online purchasing creates new opportunities–particularly in the context of the covid epidemic–but barriers may arise that are also along race and class divisions. This paper examines an initial data set for two Black led collaborative Food System projects (two urban farms and a mobile farmers market initiative), all of which are primarily staffed by African American leadership and serve a diverse set of community members with Black consumers being of the majority. While issues such as government benefit payments constitute formal economic barriers, other challenges are better illuminated through the lens of the extraction of value: the loss of community connections and increased dependency on modes of production that do not return value to the community. We define “generative production networks” as those which maximize unalienated value return rather than value extraction. We utilize this framework to examine alternative online systems to overcome these barriers.

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