The poverty of sustainability: An analysis of current positions

Patricia L. Allen, Carolyn Elizabeth Sachs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


A short time ago the idea of sustainable agriculture was accepted only at the extreme margins of the U. S. agricultural systems. Although sustainability has now become a major theme of many U. S. agricultural groups, there remains much under-explored terrain in the meaning of sustainable agriculture. A thorough examination of who and what we want to sustain and how we can sustain them is critical if sustainable agriculture is to be a practical improvement over conventional agriculture. In order to begin this effort, this article analyzes contemporary sustainable agriculture discourse and suggests alternatives for reconceptualizing sustainable agriculture. In particular we look at three arenas of sustainable discourse-family farm/rural community preservation, food safety, and agricultural science-and address issues of class, race/ethnicity, and gender found in current sustainability positions. We find that while advocates of sustainability have succeeded in pushing agricultural researchers and policy makers to address environmental issues, we need to go much farther both in theory and practice in order to deal with equally important issues of social equity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-35
Number of pages7
JournalAgriculture and Human Values
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 1 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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