Patricia Allen, Ph.D.
Patricia Allen most recently 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.