Theses and Dissertations

'Good Food’ and Food Sovereignty in the South Texas Borderlands: A Qualitative Investigation of Alternative Retail Food Outlet Managers and Owners

Kanyanat Lertkhonsan, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Copyright 2023 The Author. All Rights Reserved.


This case study describes how Alternative Retail Food Outlets (ARFOs) managers and owners in a county in South Texas near the U.S. – Mexico border I am calling Esperanza County, decide what food to eat and to sell. Data from qualitative interviews reveals that the South Texas socioeconomic – cultural context and informants’ economic constraints shaped two different conceptions of good food. At the same time, informants’ socioeconomic backgrounds and sources of good food reveals that the power to define good food – as organic, local, and seasonal – and those that can access it tend to be the educated and affluent class. By using food sovereignty as an analytical framework, I show that while ARFOs in Esperanza County bear different strategies to provide good food to the people, they do in ways that exhibit unequal power and cultural differences in food and foodways.