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Lauren Gwin

Lauren Gwin is Research Associate in the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics at Oregon State University and cofounder and coordinator of the Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network.

Titles by This Author

Can a celebrity chef find common ground with an urban community organizer? Can a maker of organic cheese and a farm worker share an agenda for improving America’s food? In the San Francisco Bay area, unexpected alliances signal the widening concerns of diverse alternative food proponents. What began as niche preoccupations with parks, the environment, food aesthetics, and taste has become a broader and more integrated effort to achieve food democracy: agricultural sustainability, access for all to good food, fairness for workers and producers, and public health. This book maps that evolution in northern California.

The authors show that progress toward food democracy in the Bay area has been significant: innovators have built on familiar yet quite radical understandings of regional cuisine to generate new, broadly shared expectations about food quality, and activists have targeted the problems that the conventional food system creates. But, they caution despite the Bay Area’s favorable climate, progressive politics, and food culture many challenges remain.

The Limits of Land Acquisition as a Conservation Strategy, 1780-2004

Buying land to conserve it is not a recent phenomenon. Buying Nature chronicles the evolution of land acquisition as a conservation strategy in the United States since the late 1700s. It goes beyond the usual focus on conservation successes to provide a critical assessment of both public and private land acquisition efforts.

The book shows that for more than 200 years, both private purchasers—such as the Nature Conservancy and the Trust for Public Land—and governmental agencies have acquired land for conservation. It documents trends of growing complexity in transactions and a blurring of public and private roles. The preservation of Mount Vernon and its grounds, for example, began with a private group—the Mount Vernon Ladies Association of the Union—and continues today with a mosaic of private, state, and federal actors. The current emphasis on private land trust acquisitions, the authors argue, may undercut other effective governmental efforts to preserve the environment and may not be the best way to meet conservation goals.

Buying Nature emphasizes the accountability issues that arise when the line between public and private efforts is indistinct. The authors also pay unique attention to how federal land agencies' individual histories shape their participation in modern land acquisition transactions. An unusual mix of scholarship, the book combines political, legal and constitutional, and economic history with rich case studies of land conservation and quantitative analyses of acquisitions over time to provide a new and distinctive perspective on enduring questions of public policy and environmental protection.