UNMAKING: a research programme on the disruption of capitalism in societal transformation to sustainability


Why a toolkit on anti-racism and diversity in Community Supported Agriculture?

By Leonie Guerrero Lara and Julia Spanier 

Alternative food movements are white spaces

Alternative food movements have been repeatedly called out for being primarily white spaces, particularly from scholars and activists in the US-American context (Slocum 2006; Guthman 2008). The term white spaces does not only refer to ‘the presence of pale-skinned bodies’ (Alkon and McCullen 2010, 940), but also, and more fundamentally, to the ‘habitus of whiteness’ (ibid.) and the associated social and cultural practices of the members of these movements. White people often fail to reflect on their own whiteness in these spaces. For instance, they understand their own white world as the norm and, unconsciously, behave in a way that can give Black Persons and Persons of Colour (BPoC) the impression that they are not included and thereby hurt them. Such exclusionary tendencies manifest themselves, for instance, in the types of food offered in these alternative agriculture projects (for instance, very few CSA initiatives grow pulses or offer dairy and meat products; often the vegetable varieties chosen cater to a Western-European diet). Moreover, according to a study by Alkon and McCullen (2010), the so-called white farm imaginary prevails in many agricultural grassroots projects. In such projects, members of agri-food movements often have a romanticised image of white family farmers, while the role of non-white (often low-paid) producers, such as seasonal workers, is often rendered invisible. Additionally, in a racist society, BPoC are often economically disadvantaged in a structural manner.

Consequently, high member fees or prices for food produce can create participation barriers. Taken together, these reasons can prevent BPoC from joining agri-food movements (Alkon and McCullen 2010). At the same time, many members of these movements do neither proactively reflect on the exclusivity of agri-food movements, nor their own privilege, in particular their white privilege2 which grants them access.

This toolkit was originally developed for the German community-supported agriculture (CSA) movement. As a predominantly white space, the movement is subject to the above-named problems. However, in contrast to the US-American context, the issue is not yet widely discussed in European alternative food movements. Therefore, it is important to call out, reflect on and unmake the prevalent structural racism in alternative food movements in Germany and other European countries.

We have all been socialised in a racist society

An important distinction needs to be made here: Structural racism is not exclusively reproduced in far-right or right-wing contexts. In fact, most alternative food movements, including the German “Netzwerk Solidarische Landwirtschaft e. V.”, explicitly condemn and reject far-right ideologies, embracing a clear no-tolerance policy towards any form of racist, xenophobic or otherwise discriminatory behaviours, practices or endeavours.

What activists, writers and scholars on structural racism emphasise however is that a positioning within the leftist and liberal political spectrum does not shield individuals or groups from the unintentional, unconscious reproduction of a racist society. Alternative agri-food movements, just like everyone else, are embedded in a structurally racist society. Racism is woven into the fabric of our societies, and from an early age onwards, people are confronted with stereotypes and racial assumptions and unconsciously reproduce them. We refer here to the explanation of racism by Tupoka Ogette (2017). She writes:

‘Black people and People of Colour experience racism on a daily basis in Germany […]. At day care centers, schools, in their families, at work […]. This racism often happens in contexts in which people consider themselves as tolerant, fair, and above all “antiracist”. Or in spaces which white people declare as “free from racism”. This is where the problem lies: In Germany, racism is considered an individual and conscious misconduct of other people. This means that is often assumed that racism can only be found with nazis or other “bad/malign” people, who have concordant intentions’ (Ogette 2017, 16, own translation).

Tupoka Ogette contrasts this with the omnipresence of racism: today’s society, our culture and our economic situation are based on colonial exploitation, an exploitation justified and legitimised through racism. Consequently our society is inevitably deeply characterised by racism:

‘We grew up in a world, in which, for over 300 years, racism has been deeply ingrained. So deeply, that there is no space, in which we cannot find racism. And just because you live in this world, you became part of this system. The way you have learnt to think and speak about yourself and others: through children’s books, … digital media, … your textbooks, … everything. In a nutshell: You have been socialised in a racist world. Just as many generations before you, for over 300 years’ (Ogette 2017, 53, own translation).

In this society, BPoC experience microagressions on a daily basis – ‘insults, degradations, and humiliations… from white, “well-meaning/well-intentioned” people, who are not aware of their hidden message’ (ibid. 55). For instance, ‘the inquiry: “Where are you really from?” implies that a Black person or PoC cannot be German and therefore cannot feel home in their own country’ (ibid. 55f.). In our society, racism has penetrated existing institutions and their structures in the form of power relations and behaviour patterns, as well as in the form of assumptions who or what is ‘normal’ and who or what should be considered as the ‘other’ (ibid. 57-61).

The necessity of developing anti-racist practices within the CSA movement

There are several reasons why CSA movements in Germany and other European countries should develop anti-racist practices.

First, solidarity is a key value for CSA movements (Plank, Hafner, and Stotten 2020). According to Plank, Hafner, and Stotten (2020), four spheres of solidarity can be distinguished in relation to CSA: ‘solidarity (i) between producers and eaters, (ii) amongst eaters, (iii) amongst producers, and (iv) within society, understood in a wider transnational and universal context.’ If we take the latter seriously, solidarity must also extend to people who face (racial) discrimination.

Second, CSA movements aspire to contribute to food sovereignty. Food sovereignty fundamentally includes ‘social relations free of oppression and inequality’ (Nyéléni Forum 2007). This implies that CSA movements should actively contribute to dismantle racist structures within our society, which also pervade the CSA movement itself.

Third, as mentioned above, some CSA networks already specify in their statue that they do not tolerate racist, xenophobic or otherwise discriminatory behaviours or endeavours. While such an explicit positioning is very important, as Tupoka Ogette explains, it can certainly not be sufficient to dismantle racism. It is not possible to eradicate racism by a positioning statement alone. As explained above, the members of the CSA movement, too, unconsciously reproduce elements of our racist society. Therefore, practicing anti-racism means that the CSA movements should self-critically confront their own whiteness and unconscious racism.

On the origin of this toolkit

This toolkit was developed by activist and researcher Samie Blasingame for the working group against the far-right (AK Gegen Rechts) of the German CSA movement. It builds on a workshop on food justice equally developed by Samie Blasingame. Both the toolkit and the workshop form part of a process that aims to establish anti-racist practices in the German CSA movement, as well as increasing its diversity. We, Julia Spanier and Leonie Guerrero Lara, accompanied this process between January 2022 and February 2023. At the time of writing, the AK Gegen Rechts is adapting and revising this toolkit to make it fit for the audience of the German CSA movement. The version of the toolkit you find on the webpage of the UNMAKING research project has been last updated in January 2024. Once the AK Gegen Rechts has finalised their revision of the toolkit, it will be made available on the webpage of the AK Gegen Rechts in the German CSA network (https://www.solidarische-landwirtschaft.org/das-netzwerk/arbeitskreise/gegen-rechts).

How should this toolkit be used?

This toolkit is meant as a first contact with the topic of anti-racism. It provides a set of exercises and materials intended first and foremost for members of the German CSA movement, who can use them to familiarize themselves with structural racism, food justice and white privilege.

Therefore, it aims to raise awareness of the entanglement of the CSA movement in a racist society and the fact that the CSA movement largely consists of white, middleclass, and academic members. The toolkit contains resources and activities for both individuals and groups. We hope that many CSA initiatives use this toolkit to critically question their own (lack of) diversity, accessibility/inclusivity and, more broadly, the associated implications in a racist and discriminatory society. While this toolkit was originally developed for the German context and the CSA movement in particular, we believe that several exercises and inputs can be of interest to other alternative food movements in Germany and across Europe.

We see this toolkit as a potential starting point for entering the process of becoming an anti-racist CSA (member). However, this toolkit is by no means sufficient to engage with the complex topics of structural racism and developing anti-racist practices. Both should be conceived as life-long learnings that require repeated personal engagement with and critical reflections on the topics. The AK Gegen Rechts is conscious of this limitation. To support members of the CSA movement in their anti-racist journey, they are currently working on other formats, notably a facilitated workshop, that can hopefully be held regularly for the network.


  • Alkon, Alison Hope, and Christie Grace McCullen. 2010. “Whiteness and Farmers Markets: Performances, Perpetuations … Contestations?” Antipode 43 (4): 937–959. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8330.2010.00818.x.
  • Guthman, Julie. 2008. “‘If They Only Knew’: Color Blindness and Universalism in California Alternative Food Institutions.” The Professional Geographer 60 (3): 387–397. https://doi.org/10.1080/00330120802013679.
  • Kendall, Frances. 2013. “What’s in for Us?” In Understanding White Privilege. Creating Pathways to Authentic Relationships Across Race, 2nd ed., 19–40. New York and London: Routeledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203961032-10.
  • Nyéléni Forum. 2007. “Declaration of Nyéléni.”
  • Ogette, Tupoka. 2017. Exit RACISM: Rassismuskritisch Denken Lernen. Unrast Verlag.
  • Plank, Christina, Robert Hafner, and Rike Stotten. 2020. “Analyzing Values-Based Modes of Production and Consumption: Community-Supported Agriculture in the Austrian Third Food Regime.” Österreichische Zeitschrift Fur Soziologie 45 (1): 49–68. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11614-020-00393-1.
  • Slocum, Rachel. 2006. “Anti-Racist Practice and the Work of Community Food Organizations.” Antipode 38 (2): 327–349. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8330.2006.00582.x.