Knowledge for better food systems

Subsistence agriculture in the US

This book (published 25 September 2020) explores the lives of people who grow, rear, hunt or gather their own food in the United States, with a focus on Chicago. It examines the implications of these activities for society and sustainability.

Publisher’s summary

Focusing on ethnography and interviews with subsistence food producers, this book explores the resilience, innovation and creativity taking place in subsistence agriculture in America.

To date, researchers interested in alternative food networks have often overlooked the somewhat hidden, unorganised population of household food producers. Subsistence Agriculture in the US fills this gap in the existing literature by examining the lived experiences of people taking part in subsistence food production. Over the course of the book, Colby draws on accounts from a broad and diverse network of people who are hunting, fishing, gardening, keeping livestock and gathering and looks in depth at the way in which these practical actions have transformed their relationship to labour and land. She also explores the broader implications of this pro-environmental activity for social change and sustainable futures.

With a combination of rigorous academic investigation and engagement with pressing social issues, this book will be of great interest to scholars of sustainable consumption, environmental sociology and social movements.



Colby, A. (2020). Subsistence Agriculture in the US: Reconnecting to Work, Nature and Community. Routledge, Abingdon.

Read more here. See also the Foodsource building block What is food security?

You can read related research by browsing the following categories of our research library:

Add comment

Member input

Plain text

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.



North America

North America is the northern subcontinent of the Americas covering about 16.5% of the Earth's land area. This large continent has a range of climates spanning Greenland’s permanent ice sheet and the dry deserts of Arizona. Both Canada and the USA are major food producers and some of the largest food exporters in the world. Industrial farms are the norm in North America, with high yields relative to other regions and only 2% of the population involved in agriculture.

View articles relating to North America


Doc Type