Date of Award

Spring 5-2017

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Bridie McGreavy

Second Committee Member

Liliana Herakova

Third Committee Member

Nathan Stormer


This thesis studies the discourse of food sovereignty in Maine, a coalition of small-scale farmers, consumers, and citizens building an alternative food system based on a distributed form of production, processing, selling, purchasing, and consumption. This distribution occurs at the municipal level through the enactment of ordinances. Using critical-rhetorical field methods, I argue that the discourse of food sovereignty in Maine develops a ‘constitutive’ rhetoric that composes rural society through affective relationships. Advocates engage the industrial food system to both expose its systemic bias against small-scale farming and construct their own discourse of belonging. Based upon agrarian values such as interrelatedness, secular grace, and trust, food sovereignty proposes a vernacular law by which to regulate local food systems. Advocates perform a ‘grassroots diplomacy’ to gain access to the decision-making process and to create space for themselves within the existing regulatory structure.