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Reclaiming Policy Imagination: Buen Vivir, Policy Culture, and the Policy Divide between Health and Agriculture in Puerto Rico

Food Systems and Health

ISBN: 978-1-78635-092-3, eISBN: 978-1-78635-091-6

ISSN: 1057-6290

Publication date: 29 June 2017



This article addresses the health problems of Puerto Rico by looking at them from the perspective of food and agriculture, underlining that there is a substantial policy divide between agricultural policy and health. This reframing insists that we attend to the relationships between agriculture and food policy in order to offer new ways to think about the prevalence of so-called “lifestyle diseases” in Puerto Rico.


This study draws on a forensic research strategy that follows the framing of food and agriculture policies through a three-step diagnosis process using a mixed method approach. This three-dimensional analysis focuses on (1) history, (2) statistics, and (3) policies and legislations.


The disconnection between health and agriculture policies materializes (1) throughout 19-20th century agricultural developments, (2) across the current agriculture organization, and, (3) through legislations and policies. A dominant understanding of agriculture as a predominantly economic and trade-driven sector fuels this policy divide.


This article calls for a new policy imagination that will allow for a re-conceptualization of agriculture policies as health policies. In order to bring forward this policy imagination, this article suggests returning to ideas that precede the production and articulation of the policy divide through a re-appropriation of Latin American indigenous knowledge and ideas. As such, the Andean concept of Buen Vivir represents a particularly promising path explored in this article.



Blouin Genest, G. (2017), "Reclaiming Policy Imagination: Buen Vivir, Policy Culture, and the Policy Divide between Health and Agriculture in Puerto Rico", Food Systems and Health (Advances in Medical Sociology, Vol. 18), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 223-248.



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