In many areas of the country, and especially in North Carolina, sustainable, local food markets represent one of the most exciting opportunities for environmental stewardship, economic growth, value-added agricultural niches, job creation, and community building. However, these opportunities require careful and sustained attention to the legal and regulatory requirements at the international, national, state, and local levels, many of which inhibit the development of sustainable, local food systems.
The course will focus on (1) the interrelationship of food and agricultural production and environmental sustainability and (2) the ways in which the law influences, and can be used to overcome impediments to, the development of sustainable, local foods-based markets. Students will explore readings from a variety of sources, hear directly from guest speakers from North Carolina's strong network of organizations involved in the local foods movement, and delve into a research project of their own choosing.* Through the semester, students will gain an understanding of how legal rules interact with food safety research, physical infrastructure, personal consumption habits, patterns of private sector investment, race-based and other structural inequalities, to notions of community, underlying cultural and religious values, etc.
*This project will allow students to explore an issue of interest and contribute their knowledge to this developing field. Papers may be scholarly in nature, but students are encouraged to shape their projects as practical case studies that directly engage the issues and players in the local foods community.