Conclusion

Taking impetus from Kropotkin's revolutionary notion that the most essential thing in life is food, through this chapter, I encourage increased academic attention and activism to the necessarily Utopian political ecology of urban hunger. The urban struggles to feed hungry children in Milwaukee, and the attempts to understand the structural relations that have historically produced material inequality in the city, show that through struggle there is always hope. Geographers can play a leading role in promoting critical thinking through a better theorization of the roots and ramifications of urban hunger. However, where geographers often fall short is in linking our theories to praxis.

I am reluctant to conclude by summarizing, but rather want to look toward the future potential of Marxist urban political ecology scholarship and action-research to motivate more possible cases that seek to realize the "Not-Yet-Consciousness" that Bloch referred to. We must work hard to find an alternative to the contemporary mix of economic free-marketeerism and political irresponsibility as humankind continues to experience increased inequality through the proliferation of neoliberal capitalism, coupled with the rampant urbanization the world over that has contributed to the production of urban hunger.

The processes that bridge physiology and markets, or necessity for food and desire for particular foods, is neither straightforward, nor is the socionatural metabolization that underpins the politicization of urban hunger a simple matter. Instead, the production of urban hunger results from the contradictions inherent to capitalism and unimaginative political processes that tolerate urban inequality. Understanding the socio-physiology of hunger is essential for understanding the social production of urban inequality. As such, linking the scalar metabolic processes that connect individual bodies to urban social processes and spatial forms helps situate the political ecology of hunger and can facilitate a better understanding of these relations in a way that might motivate a more deliberate response to the problems of hunger.

To better articulate the ineffable contradictions produced through the synthesis of nature and society, in a way to motivate a more emancipatory politics around hunger, communicating ecology in more creative and resourceful ways than just discussing stomach contractions, gastric fluids and gastrointestinal muscle tone are imperative. It is also necessary to get beyond discussing urban hunger as just another, in a long list of "social problems". Neruda's symbolic interpretation of the body's response to hunger, "having a chain of fish hooks, trailing from the heart, clawing at your insides; hunger feels like pincers, like the bite of crabs; that it burns, burns", helps to inform our socionatural imagination in a way necessary for understanding that hunger is at the same time dialectically natural and social. Through this more crisp articulation, perhaps we can get closer to believing and acting upon Harvey's (2000) notion that "[t]here is a time and place in ceaseless human endeavor to change the world, when alternative visions, no matter how fantastic, provide the grist for shaping powerful political forces of change". As such, the problem before us is perhaps best personified within Herbert Marcuse's classic question: "What is involved in the liberation of nature as a vehicle of the liberation of man [sic]?"

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