Geographies of Food

Urban gardeners

Everybody has to eat; the procurement and consumption of food are some of the most mundane and basic activities of humankind. At the same time, these practices are deeply influenced by economic, political, social, and cultural forces that operate at various geographic scales. Food provides a wonderful window to explore how the everyday is shaped by global food regimes, political ideology, consumption cultures, environmental resources and climate change. Of particular interest to geographers are questions related to the spatial distribution of food production and consumption, the organization of local and alternative food systems, and the relationship between foodways and place.

Green leaf garden rowWe teach several courses related to geographies of food including GEOG 340: Geography of Food; GEOG 440: Food Justice; and GEOG 590: Community-Based Geographic Research. The latter is a project-based class that involves students in field research on topics as varied as food deserts, young people’s food routines, ethnic food businesses, and more recently the creation of a “good food district.”

SDSU faculty specializing in this area have conducted research on alternative food spaces, food and gentrification, ethnic food economies, and the social significance of food in the lives of immigrants, including young people.


gardening in city heights community garden

Food, Ethnicity and Place: Feeding Families and Nourishing Communities Leave geography site

This five-year project was funded by the National Science Foundation and led by Pascale Joassart-Marcelli and Fernando Bosco. It sought to generate a better understanding of how children and their families make food choices within the constraints and opportunities presented by place, culture and ethnicity.

Food and Place: A Critical Exploration

This volume is edited by Pascale Joassart-Marcelli and Fernando Bosco and includes chapters by leading scholars in the field of geography of food as well as current and former SDSU students. It provides a comprehensive and critical exploration of food from the unique perspective of place.

city heights farmers market

Community Food Security and Ethnic Markets in City Heights

This project led by Pascale Joassart-Marcelli and funded by the SDSU University Grant Program analyzes the role of ethnic markets in contributing to community food security. It also examines their significance in the everyday life of City Heights residents, many of whom are refugees from diverse countries.

The Taste of Gentrification

Pascale Joassart-Marcelli and Fernando Bosco explore the role of food in promoting gentrification. They consider how taste and place relate to each other in ways that generate social exclusion and displacement. They focus on alternative food spaces as well as newer food businesses such as food trucks, craft breweries, farm-to-table restaurants, and gastro-pubs that appropriate the lifestyles, identities and aesthetics of other groups. They conducted research on that topic in North Park, Barrio Logan, City Heights, and Little Italy.

The Good Food District

This project involves undergraduate and graduate students in assessing the potential benefits of creating a “Good Food District” in southeastern San Diego and assisting the nonprofit organization “Project New Village” in its mission to stimulate collective investments in better health by elevating and integrating urban agriculture as a key component of community revitalization and wealth generation.

Lobster catch

Climate Change Impacts on the Sustainability of Key Fisheries of the California Current System Leave geography site

The ocean off the California coast supports productive commercial and recreational fisheries that are important to human cultures, quality of life, livelihoods, and the economy along the U.S. West Coast. Climate change is expected to alter the oceanic system and contribute to changes in fish populations that will directly affect the behavior and profits of people who fish, as well as actions of fisheries managers. Arielle Levine is part of a collaborative study that brings together oceanographers, fisheries scientists, economists, and social scientists to develop a better understanding of interactions among the climate and coastal ocean system, fish populations, fishermen and fishing communities, and resource management, focusing on three key commercially harvested species that are known to respond to environmental change: Pacific sardine, California market squid, and California spiny lobster.

Samoan fisheries focus group

Social-ecological Vulnerability of Coral Reef Fisheries in American Samoa

Arielle Levine is exploring how predicted changes to climate and ocean acidification will impact nearshore subsistence fisheries in American Samoa, the effects that these changes will have on local livelihoods and food consumption, and potential pathways for adaptation and resilience.

Food Practices, Neighborhood Change, and Urban Citizenship in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Fernando Bosco investigates how ongoing changes in the retail food environment of contemporary Buenos Aires, Argentina, relate to neighborhood change and urban citizenship—belonging, accessing, and participating in city life.



Production, distribution, sale, consumption, and preparation of food from a geographic perspective. Key concepts in human and physical geography by exploring the environmental, political, economic, social, and cultural aspects of food.

Geographic analysis of environmental and social issues in the global south. How colonialism, development, and globalization have shaped equity and sustainability issues and access to resources, environmental health, migration, and poverty around the world. Field trips may be arranged.

Food justice from perspectives of theory, institutions, markets, law, ethics, social mobilization, politics, and ecology. Political strategies, capabilities of food justice organizations; movements aimed at creating fair, healthy, sustainable food systems locally and globally.

Local social and/or environmental issues. Research design, data collection and analysis, collaboration with community-based organizations, reflection on research and social responsibility, communication of findings.