Nearly every day brings news of another merger or acquisition involving the companies that control our food supply. Just how concentrated has this system become? At almost every key stage of the food system, four firms alone control 40% or more of the market, a level above which these companies have the power to drive up prices for consumers and reduce their rate of innovation. Researchers have identified additional problems resulting from these trends, including negative impacts on the environment, human health, and communities.
This book reveals the dominant corporations, from the supermarket to the seed industry, and the extent of their control over markets. It also analyzes the strategies these firms are using to reshape society in order to further increase their power, particularly in terms of their bearing upon the more vulnerable sections of society, such as recent immigrants, ethnic minorities and those of lower socioeconomic status. Yet these trends are not inevitable—opposed by numerous efforts, from microbreweries to seed saving networks, this book explores how such opposition has encouraged the most powerful firms to make small but positive changes. Winner of the Fred Buttel Outstanding Scholarly Achievement Award, Rural Sociological Society (2016).
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DatabasesRecent Academic Publications2016
- Beer behemoths struggle to fend off craft brew craze. The Conversation. September 29, 2015.
- Who owns organic brands? Maybe not who you think. Edible Wasatch, Issue 15 (Winter 2014), 49-51.
- Howard, Philip H. Decoding Diversity in the Food System: Wheat and Bread in North America. Agriculture and Human Values, 33(4), 953-960. (pre-publication version)
- Jaffee, Daniel & Philip H. Howard. Who’s the Fairest of Them All? The Fractured Landscape of U.S. Fair Trade Certification. Agriculture and Human Values, 33(4), 813-826.
- Herrnstadt, Zachary, Philip H. Howard, Chi-Ok Oh & Catherine A. Lindell. Consumer Preferences for “Natural” Agricultural Practices: Assessing Methods to Manage Bird Pests. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 31(6), 516-523.
- Howard, Philip H. Review of Divided Spirits: Tequila, Mezcal, and the Politics of Production, by Sarah Bowen. Review of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Studies. DOI: 10.1007/s41130-016-0029-y.
- Getter, Kristin L., Bridget K. Behe, Philip H. Howard, David S. Conner & Lia M. Spaniolo. Increasing Demand for Pasture-Based Dairy: What Attributes and Images Do Consumers Want? Pp. 125-140 in Rethinking Organic Food and Farming in a Changing World (Bernard Freyer & James Bingen, eds.). New York: Springer.
- Constance, Douglas H., Mary Hendrickson, Philip H. Howard & William D. Heffernan. Economic Concentration in the Agrifood System: Impacts on Rural Communities and Emerging Responses. Pp. 16-35 in Rural America in a Changing World: Problems and Prospects for the 2010s (Connor Bailey, Leif Jensen & Elizabeth Ransom, eds.). Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Press.
- Constance, Douglas H., Mary Hendrickson & Philip H. Howard. Agribusiness Concentration: Globalization, Market Power, and Resistance. Pp. 31-58 in The Global Food System: Issues and Solutions (William D. Schanbacher, ed.). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
- Howard, Philip H. Too Big to Ale? Globalization and Consolidation in the Beer Industry. Pp. 155-165 in The Geography of Beer: Regions, Environment, and Society (Mark W. Patterson & Nancy Hoalst Pullen, eds.). New York: Springer. [pre-publication PDF]
- Getter, Kristen L., Bridget K. Behe, David S. Conner & Philip H. Howard. Pasture-Raised Milk: The Market for a Differentiated Product. Journal of Food Products Marketing, 20(2), 146-161.
- Howard, Philip H. Transnational Corporations. Pp. 737-742 in Achieving Sustainability: Visions, Principles and Practices (Debra Rowe, ed.). Detroit: Macmillan.
(or Google Scholar
) for additional publications. Student Publications
- Foote, Devin. Assessing Small Farm Viability and Net Farm Income: A Michigan Case Study. 2016. Master of Science Thesis, Michigan State University.
- Bardenhagen, Chris, Jill Hardy, Allyssa Merwin. Sustenance: Thoughts on Contemporary Food Systems. 2015. Michigan State University (December).
- Baetsen-Young, Amy, Jacob , Alison Singer. From Farm to Landfill. 2015. Michigan State University (December).
- Beavers, Alyssa, Jake Parcell, Taylor Wimberg. An Introduction to Urban Agriculture. 2015. Michigan State University (December).
- Bauer, Christopher, Marguerite Bolt, Sabra Gerdes, Mike Swoish. 2015. Genetically Modified Organisms. Michigan State University (December).
- Cave, Jim, Ebenezer offei Ansah, Devin Foote, Kathleen Reed & Grady Zuiderveen. 2014. Farmers for the Future. Michigan State University (December).
- Metta, Kyle, Timothy Silberg & Sam Loscalzo. 2014. Conventional Wisdom of Local Food. Michigan State University (December).
- Herrnstadt, Zachary B. 2014. What Agricultural Practices Are Considered Natural? Consumer Perceptions of Bird Damage-Control Methods Used on Fruit. Master of Science Thesis, Michigan State University.
- Stuart, Diana, Rebecca L. Schewe & Matthew McDermott. 2014. Reducing Nitrogen Fertilizer Application as a Climate Change Mitigation Strategy: Understanding Farmer Decision-Making and Potential Barriers to Change in the US. Land Use Policy 36, 210-218.
- Herrnstadt, Zachary B. 2013. Consumer Reactions to Bird Management Practices on Fruit Crops. Department of Community Sustainability, Michigan State University (June).
- Comlanvi, Sitou Akibode, Katherine Dentzman, Kate Glanville, Philip Grabowski, Michele Hockett & Jacob Watson. 2012. Global Food System Analysis. Michigan State University (December).
- Grabowski, Alix. 2012. Wine Labeling. Michigan State University (May).
- Mino, Rebecca. 2012. The Availability of Michigan-Produced Wines in Southern Michigan Retail Locations. Michigan State University (May).
- Schultze, Steve. 2012. Wine Geographic Origin by Owner/Licensee/Exclusive Importer. Michigan State University (May).
- Stuart, Diana, Matthew McDermott & Rebecca L. Schewe. 2012. Responding to Climate Change: Barriers to Reflexive Modernization in U.S. Agriculture. Organization & Environment, 25(3), 308-327.
- Tsai, Yue-Mi. 2012. Citizen and Consumer: The Dual Role of the Individual in a Taiwanese Consumer Food Cooperative. Master of Science Professional Project, Michigan State University.
- Bogart, Terra. 2012. Should I Leave Room for Politics? The Political Ecology of Coffee, April 28.
- McDermott, Matthew. 2012. Farmer Responses to a Climate Change-Driven Fertilizer Offsets Program: Economic Incentives, Worldviews and Operational Constraints. Master of Science Thesis, Michigan State University.
- Otto, Jayson. 2011. Broadening the Concept of Civic Agriculture: The History of Civic Food Systems in Progressive Era Grand Rapids, Michigan. Master of Science Thesis, Michigan State University.
- Miller-Porter, Angela. 2011. The Cooperative Creation and Management of Edgewood Village Community and Children’s Gardens. Master of Science Professional Project, Michigan State University.
- Spaniolo, Lia. 2011. Emergent Ecolabels in the US Market: Contributions to Political Consumerism Efforts and a Study of Niche Consumer Values. Master of Science Thesis, Michigan State University.
- Spaniolo, Lia & Phil Howard. 2010. Emerging Eco-Labels: Researching Perspectives of Co-op Member-Owners. Cooperative Grocer, May-June, 14-15. [PDF]
- Spaniolo, Lia. 2009. Eco-Label Programs for US Farmers; Eco-Label Programs for Michigan Farmers. Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, Michigan State University (October).
- Fitzpatrick, Margaret H. 2009. Alternative Food and Animal Geographies in Newsprint Media: Discourse Analysis of Urban Chickens in the US. Master of Science Thesis, Michigan State University.
- Otto, Jayson. 2009. Annotated Bibliography of Literature on Food Environments. Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, Michigan State University (May). [PDF]
Philip H. HowardDepartment of Community Sustainability
Michigan State University
Natural Resources Building
480 Wilson RD, Rm 316
East Lansing, MI 48824