Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Keiko Tanaka


Food hubs, a new model of values-based agro-food enterprise, are promoted by their advocates as a means to simultaneously improve the livelihoods of small and mid-sized farmers, increase the social and environmental sustainability of the food system, and supply the ever increasing consumer demand for health, local food. Noting the contradictions embedded in the promise of simultaneously generating both social values and economic value, this study explores how goals of promoting positive social, economic, or environmental change are achieved and/or inhibited when implemented though marketbased activities. Through a series of three in-depth case studies of food hubs in the Southeastern United States, the three papers compiled in this dissertation investigate how food hubs work to realize abstract non-financial goals (e.g. ‘helping family farmers’, ‘promoting sustainable food systems’) through the mundane work of food aggregation and distribution. Particular attention is paid to the experiences of mid-sized farmers who participate in food hubs, and the historic, material, and subjective processes that influence the development of food hubs and their many stakeholders. Highlighting the tensions and negotiations inherent to the hybrid social-and-monetary work of food hubs, I assert the need for an analytical framework that can account for the more-than-financial dimensions of economic and ethical praxis. To that end, I draw on the theories of J.K. Gibson-Graham to suggest that food hubs are best understood as a form of post-capitalist enterprise situated within a community agro-food economy, wherein reciprocal and interdependent relationships are forged between new economic subjects through deliberate and ongoing negotiation of care via the process and outcomes of diverse economic activity.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)