Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Agricultural, Environmental, and Sustainability Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Alexis Racelis

Second Advisor

Dr. Owen Temby

Third Advisor

Dr. William Donner


Civic engagement is an important indicator of social capital in a community. The foundation of a strong democracy is dependent on citizens willingness and ability to engage. To further understand these drivers of social network building, this study utilizes the theory of civic agriculture to measure the impact of food procurement systems on civic engagement. A survey of over 400 residents in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas measures how involvement in local food systems impacts a participants’ contribution to and perception of his or her community, while considering important third factor variables that also influence food procurement habits. In order to understand how build a stronger socio-political fabric in the United States, food systems are an important area of study. Food serves not only as a commodity, but also a determination of well-being and expression of social identity. The Lower Rio Grande Valley is home to the largest fruit and vegetable production in Texas, yet is a national leader in food and diet related illnesses. This study will explore the relationship between food and civic engagement in a majority Hispanic community with a history of colonial agriculture in an attempt to delineate how localizing agro-food systems may play a role in empowering marginalized communities to engage civically with their community, integrating them into the national political system.


Copyright 2020 Allison P. Kaika. All Rights Reserved.

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Agriculture Commons