Enacting just food futures through the state

evidence from Brazil





Brazil, food and agriculture, institutional procurement, (agrarian) political economy, the state


The state is an important, if sometimes overlooked, terrain of struggle for food activists. To explore the ways and extent to which just food futures can be enacted through the state, we present the experience of Brazil. We argue that activists should seek to advance food policies that have broad social appeal to weather political changes in administrations. Our argument is informed by an extensive review of scholarship on the state, corporate influence, and the possibility of promoting progressive agri-food change through the state, as well as the contradictions of doing so. Drawing on (agrarian) political economy we analyse institutional procurement as exemplifying the state’s role not only in ‘stabilizing’ and ‘growing’ the economy but also in enacting ‘redistribution’. Through our research in Brazil, we compare how the Food Acquisition Program (PAA) and the National School Meal Program (PNAE) have been impacted by the far-right’s rise to power since 2016. When mobilizing the power of institutions to change food systems by leveraging the purchasing power of the state, beyond institutionalization, food policies must be participatory and framed as collective gains for society more broadly, rather than for specific social groups. This would keep such policies from becoming the target of competing administrations, as evidenced by the Brazil case.

Author Biographies

Ricardo Barbosa Jr, University of Calgary

Geography MA student at the University of Calgary. MA in the International Relations from the University of Brasília, along with BAs in International Relations and Social Sciences from the Federal University of Goiás and Law from the Pontifical Catholic University of Goiás, all in Brazil. Ricardo has published in Agriculture and Human Values, Journal of Agrarian Change, Dialogues in Human Geography, and Journal of Maps.

Estevan Coca, Federal University of Alfenas

Assistant Professor of the Institute of Natural Sciences at the Federal University of Alfenas, where he teaches graduate and undergraduate Geography, and is also a Researcher Associate of the Postgraduate Program on Territorial Development in America Latin America and the Caribbean (TerritoriAL) at São Paulo State University.




How to Cite

Barbosa Jr, R., & Coca, E. (2022). Enacting just food futures through the state: evidence from Brazil. Canadian Food Studies / La Revue Canadienne Des études Sur l’alimentation, 9(2), 75–100. https://doi.org/10.15353/cfs-rcea.v9i2.540