Project Abstract

Farmer’s Markets and other healthy food alternatives are often coded and normalized as “White” foods, with an underlying aim to categorize ethnic foods as other, and inherently unhealthy and bad for the consumers. Farmers’ Markets often practice in exclusionary practices that either go about being ‘color-blind’ or ‘universalist’ (Guthman). The goal of this research is to dive into one of the most popular Farmer’s Markets in San Diego, the pristine and popular Little Italy Farmers’ Market to see if any of these exclusionary practices occur and to then offer ideas that would make this space more inclusive for communities of color.

Project Description

This project explores Little Italy's Farmers' Market and dives in to see who is present. With recognition of discourses surrounding alternative food as being White, this exploratory attempt seeks to find out what that means as far as which communities participate in San Diego's largest farmers' market.

Significance of Research

Sustainability and health efforts are important endeavors to pursue. However, it is critical that we give these efforts a critical look, and make sure that all communities benefit from this outlook. Food justice is a part of the intersection of social justice and sustainability/health. By looking into the this topic through an intersectional mindset, we can better address the issues of food deserts, food security, and local food systems in a much more encompassing manner.


This research hopes to open up the conversation about what role race and privilege play in the topic of food justice. By approaching this topic through both a historical and contemporary political and socioeconomical context, we can unwrap the powers established by the existing discourses and discover who has the most to benefit from such power.

Major Findings and Contributions

This study has unearthed the various discourse practices that establish prefrence and value of health 'alternative food' to that of the values of White people. This was determined through the prevalance and dominating presence of White (Western) foods, over ethnic (non-Western) foods/items. By assuming and modeling the farmers' market to fit these vaues best, it produces an exclusionary practice known as universalism, which establishes and recognizes the values/beliefs of one culture as universal, disregarding other beliefs, which results in the marginalization of the latter culture.

Spatial Dimension

This study was conducted at the Little Italy Farmers' Market, the largest of its kind in San Diego County. Little Italy is neighborhood situated in the northern part of Downtown San Diego, and is a part of the city's District 3.

Theory of Change

I think by introducing other cultural cuisines and ways of thinking about healthy food that aren't centric to the discourses of alternative food as it exists, we can invite more communities to participate in a healthy lifestyle, as opposed to having it built on the cultural understandings of one particular race and ethnicity. By inentivizing a plurality of cultures to participate and be an active contributor in these spaces, we can learn more about other cultures and understandings revolving food, which allows for a stronger understanding of how to best practice sustainability and health and best utilize a local food system.

Thinking Forward - Challenges & Solutions

Demographic/Empirical Evidence

Because of the large volume of this particular farmers' market, it was difficult to document every participant's demographic information.

Some of the things I wanted to retrieve were:

  • income information,
  • race & ethnicity,
  • nationality,
  • gender,
  • age,
  • neighborhood of residence.

The best means for retrieving such data would be to hand out voluntary forms so that people would be able to fill out these demographic inquiries on their own terms. As has been pointed out by my project, race does not exist in a stable category, and to assume so would be problematic. The same could be said for age, nationality, gender, etc.


Little Italy as an Affluent Neighborhood

Little Italy is an expensive place to live, and a lot about this neighborhood reflects the affluence of its residents. Is it realistic, then, to expect for the farmers' market to reflect the values and cultures of a larger community outside of this specific neighborhood?


This question might be best asked as a part of a series of interviews with the Farmers' Market participants. While smaller farmers' markets have a better representation, both through participants and vendors, of its surrounding community, Little Italy's is the largest in the county and serves a larger population exceeding that of Little Italy.


Poster (click image to expand)

Reflective Essay


9500 Gilman Drive
San Diego, CA 92093
United States