Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Environmental Studies

Department or School/College

Environmental Studies Program

Committee Chair

Neva Hassanein

Commitee Members

Daniel Spencer, Laurie Yung


Alternative Agro-Food Movement, Domestic Fair Trade, Embeddedness, International Fair Trade, Organics, Social Change, Social Justice Labeling, Social Justice Market-Based Initiatives


University of Montana


Agriculture in North America has tended toward consolidation and industrialization in the past century. Responding to the narrowing of market advantage for small-scale organic farmers and the plight of farm workers, as well as to both the failures and potentials of international fair trade and organic initiatives, members of the nascent Domestic Fair Trade Association (DFTA) seek to insert social justice into the North American food system using a market-based initiative mediated by independent that conform to stringent criteria. This study examines the meaning of fair trade in a North American context; the challenges facing domestic fair trade initiatives, and the ways the DFTA confronts them; and the ways those involved with the DFTA intend to move ahead with a domestic fair trade initiative. I argue that through a strong collaborative approach both structurally and in its vision for a transformed food system, the DFTA may bring a new and productive element to the discussion of alternative agro-food initiatives in North America. Central to DFTA members’ understanding of their goals is the formation of a coalition representing all the stakeholders in the food system, the creation of alternative economic models which embody social justice, the education and empowerment of the consumer as a political actor, and the role of policy in a complete transformation of the food system.



© Copyright 2009 Emily Elizabeth Thorn