Research on Food and Farming for All (ROFFA)

Moral Logics and Networks in the Alternative Agrifoods Movement

What. ROFFA is a research project funded by the National Science Foundation to investigate the networks of organizations and initiatives that make up the local food and community food security movements in North Carolina. The project seeks not only to inventory who is doing what within the movement, but also to investigate the underlying moral logics—the ideas and feelings that lead individuals and groups to act within a local cultural context, especially within local settings constrained by ideas and practices of market fundamentalism.

Why. This research is important because it contributes to the public, activistsʼ and policymakersʼ understanding of the diversity of concerns, agendas, and organizations within the local food and community food security movements, and contributes to a better understanding of diversity within social movements at large. (For the scientific aims of the project, see academic summary.) Local concern about our current mainstream food system is growing, and North Carolina has been at the forefront of regional efforts to address these concerns. ROFFA seeks to provide a holistic understanding of the way in which the emerging local food movement is engaged in social change within our state.

Where. We are specifically investigating four different sites in North Carolina in order to determine variation among areas with differing class/race compositions and social resources. The four sites are Charlotte, Durham, Halifax/Edgecombe/Nash Counties, and Ashe/Watauga Counties. Field researchers will reside in these areas for 11 months (July 2010 to June 2011) conducting interviews and observing meetings and gatherings of local food organizations.

Who. The principal investigators are Dr. Don Nonini and Dr. Dottie Holland, both of the Anthropology Department at UNC—Chapel Hill. The field researchers living in the project sites are Sarah Johnson, Patrick Linder, Jen Walker, and Willie Wright. ROFFA is linked to the UNCChapel Hill Collaborations for Integrating Research and Action (CIRA). The mission of CIRA ( is “to bring together university researchers with community leaders to collaborate on producing research/action projects to advance sustainable development, community wellbeing and social justice in North Carolina and beyond.” ROFFA researchers will work with several organizations in each site to organize public events on food-related issues.

How. ROFFA will be carried out over a 20 month period in which the researchers will conduct interviews with participants in the local food movement, observe meetings of organizations and initiatives, and collect data from media sources, and historical documents. The research project abides by all Institutional Review Board policies and procedures, and, as such the researchers will ask for consent before interviewing, recording, or photographing local food movement participants. More information on the consent to participate can be found here. All interviews are confidential, and published material will not contain real names or identifiable information about those individuals who participate in the study.