Patricia Allen – Bio

Patricia Allen, Ph.D.

FOOD-patricia-allen-sqAssociate Professor, Food Systems & Society


Ph.D., Sociology, University of California, Santa Cruz
MA, Sociology, University of California, Santa Cruz
MS, International Agricultural Development, University of California, Davis
BS, Political Economy of Natural Resources, University of California, Berkeley

Classes Taught

Food Systems and Society
Intensive 1, 2, 3 and 4
Thesis 1 and 2


Before coming to Marylhurst, Patricia Allen served as Director of the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Her interest in food systems was inspired by her grandmother, who ran a small produce farm on her own. Allen witnessed her grandmother’s struggle to survive, as large farms and urbanization overtook the landscape. Working on this farm, and then laboring in food service and food processing jobs, Allen became acutely aware of the gender, race and class issues embedded in food work.

Allen’s work focuses on the political economic structures that can constrain or enable social equity in sustainable food systems. Her edited volume, Food for the Future: Conditions and Contradictions of Sustainability, published in 1993, is one of the first books to call attention to social justice in sustainable food systems. In her 2004 book, Together at the Table: Sustainability and Sustenance in the American Agrifood System, she reviews social movements and alternative agrifood institutions in the United States, and reflects on theoretical and practical issues involved in building equitable and environmentally sound food systems.

Allen’s current work focuses on food system localization and food justice. Her research on inequality regimes in food labor is funded by the National Science Foundation.

Selected Professional Affiliations and Positions

Agriculture and Human Values Society, Vice President, 2012

National Inter-institutional Network for Food, Agriculture and Sustainability, Agricultural Sustainability Institute, University of California, Davis. Executive committee member, 2012

Sustainability Center Directors of U.S. Universities and Colleges consortium, 2008

Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition, Editorial Board, 2005

Agriculture and Human Values Journal, Editorial Board, 1999

Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, a journal of political ecology, Editor, 1990-1993

Agricultural Policy, National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy, Resources for the Future, Washington, D.C. Fellow, 1986

Selected Publications

Allen, P. 2010. Realizing Justice in Local Food Systems. Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society 3 (2): 295-308.

Allen, P., and H. Melcarek. 2010. Food Justice Movement. In Green Food, P. Robbins, D. Mulvaney, and J. G. Golson (Eds). Sage Reference Series on Green Society. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Howard, P. and P. Allen. 2010. Beyond Organic and Fair Trade? An Analysis of Ecolabel Preferences in the United States. Rural Sociology 75 (2): 244-269.

Allen, P. and J. Perez. Accepted, in revision. Fields of Dreams: CSA as an Alternative Agrifood Institution. Journal of Rural Studies.

Allen, P. 2008. Mining for Justice in the Food System: Perceptions, Practices, and Possibilities. Agriculture and Human Values 25: 157-161.

Allen, P. and C. Sachs. 2007. Women and Food Chains: The Gendered Politics of Food. International Journal of Sociology of Food and Agriculture 15 (1): 1-23.

Allen, P., and J. Guthman. 2006. From “Old School” to “Farm-to-School”: Neoliberalization from the Ground Up. Agriculture and Human Values 23 (3): 401-415. (Article published with accompanying commentaries).

Allen, P. 2004. Together at the Table: Sustainability and Sustenance in the American Agrifood System. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press.

Allen, P., and M. Kovach. 2000. The Capitalist Composition of Organic: The Potential of Markets in Fulfilling the Promise of Organic Agriculture. Agriculture and Human Values 17 (3): 221-232.

Allen, P. 1999. Contemporary Food and Farm Policy in the United States. In For Hunger-Proof Cities: Sustainable Urban Food Systems. M. Koc, R. MacRae, L. J. A. Mougeot, and J. Welsh, eds. Ottowa, ON: IRDC Books.

Allen, P. 1999. Reweaving the Food Security Safety Net: Mediating Entitlement and Entrepreneurship. Agriculture and Human Values 16 (2): 117-129.

Allen, P. 1996. Social Imperatives in Organic Agriculture: A Reflection. In Fundamentals of Organic Agriculture. T. Ostergaard, ed. Tholey-Theley, Germany: International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements.

Allen, P., ed. 1993. Food for the Future: Conditions and Contradictions of Sustainability. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Allen, P., and C. Sachs. 1992. The Poverty of Sustainability: An Analysis of Current Discourse. Agriculture and Human Values 9 (4): 30-37.

Selected Presentations

Binding inequalities: Narratives from the field of food work. With Christina Hatcher at Labor across the Food System, University of California, Santa Cruz, February 2012.

Locating justice: The role of localization in sustainable food systems. Panel on Local Agriculture/Food and Community, at the Food Justice: Community, Equity and Sustainability conference, University of Oregon, Eugene, February 2011.

Seeking justice in sustainable food systems: Alternatives in theory and practice. For the Seminar for the Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, November 2009.

Patronage and Patrons: Can Ethical Consumers Buy Justice? Sustainable Consumption and Alternative Agri-Food Systems, 2nd Conference on Sustainable Consumption, Liege University, Department of Environmental Science and Management Arlon, Belgium, May 2008.

Farm-To-Institution Efforts: Can Institutional Markets Increase Sustainable Practices? with Jan Perez. Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society and the Association for the Study of Food and Society Joint Meetings, New Orleans, LA, June 2008.

Serving a Healthy Future: Sustainable Food Systems and Public Health. Keynote Address, Nutrition Exchange, The Food Environment…Moving Forward. Ontario Society of Nutrition Professionals in Public Health, Aliston, ON, Canada, May 2008.

Building Local Food Systems, Achieving Food Security: Tensions and Tendencies. Vermont Food Security Conference, Burlington, VT, 2000.

Discussant for session on In/Secure Ecologies, Political Food. American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA, April 2000.

The Political Ecology of Strawberries. American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, Honolulu, Hawaii, March 1999.

From Sustainability to Sustenance: Resistance and Reconstruction in U.S. Food and Agriculture. Keynote Address Agri-Food IV Conference, University of Central Queensland, Rockhampton, Australia, 1998.

Social Imperatives in Organic Agriculture: A Reflection. Featured Presentation at the International Conference on Organic Agriculture, Copenhagen, Denmark, August 1996.

Sustainable Agriculture Research: Moving Beyond Conventional Orientations. 8th International Conference of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, Socioeconomics of Organic Agriculture, Budapest, Hungary, August 1990.

Sustainable Agriculture and the 1990 Farm Bill. Policy briefing for the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy, Resources for the Future, Washington D.C., November 1989.