Critical Thinking for Sustainable Development at the Creemore 100 Mile Store

Heather Mair, Jennifer Sumner


Understanding how we can best respond to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals requires a consideration of cases that strive, at least in part, to embody critical thinking and to challenge dominant power relations. The paper reports on a study with women involved with the 100 Mile Store in Creemore, Ontario, Canada, which sells predominantly locally sourced, organic, and fair-trade products to tourists and residents. We explored the origins of the store as well as participants’ involvement and perceptions of its transformative impact. Key findings include an understanding of how the store began as a women-only enterprise, which can be viewed as an effort to resist neo-liberal and patriarchal business models. We also gained insights into what participants described as a growing critical awareness about the impacts of industrialized food systems and issues of environmental and community sustainability, as well as a desire to develop and support alternatives. Importantly, participants engaged in critical thinking when they supported and challenged the store’s ability to address these issues in a meaningful way. We discuss the implications by engaging Epp’s (2016) notion of incremental radicalism and identify lessons for better understanding how locally-driven sustainable development initiatives can inspire more opportunities to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

Keywords: local food, radical incrementalism, rural women, food patriotism, SDGs Canada

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The Journal of Rural and Community Development is supported by SSHRC.