ABSTRACT

Given these and other challenges, the tripartite model needs a radical reformulation. A new model should maintain a focus on the multiple (and often contested) dimensions of sustainability, without creating artificial divisions that manifest as barriers to trans-disciplinary research and discussion, and that facilitate corporate cooptation and “green washing” (e.g., Friedmann 2005). In this light, we propose a new tripartite approach, rooted in agrifood systems. In industrial form, agrifood systems are major drivers of biodiversity loss, climate change, declining public health, smallholder dispossession, corporate concentration, and environmental degradation (Lang et al. 2009; Tilman et al. 2002; Weis 2007). At the same time, research increasingly shows the regenerative and restorative potential of small-scale agroecological farming, which reach far beyond the realm of food and farming (e.g., IAASTD 2009; Lin et al. 2011). Agrifood systems, in other words, are important components of sustainability problems, as well as their solutions: food and farming constitute two of the most important ways that humans interact with the environment and support – or detract from – sustainability (Chappell and LaValle 2011; Tilman et al. 2002).