Values-based food chains are a collective strategy that enable producers to realise the benefits of good stewardship otherwise not independently possible when competing in industrial food markets. A special issue in The International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food explores their development in Europe and North America.
What motivates alternative food movement practitioners and leaders? How do they manage limited capacity for action? Are groups collaborating with each other to build collective strength?
What can city networks achieve? The experience of climate change networks provides useful insights for food ones.
FAO and RUAF have published a very comprehensive Toolkit called “Assessing and planning sustainable city region food systems”. This is the result of a 3 years journey with 7 cities to develop a methodology to analyse urban city food systems that any city around the world can apply.
How fast can food policies go given the actors, their interests and representations on a specific territory? The analysis of food policy in a French department (La Sarthe) from the 2000’s onwards reveals two strategies and highlights the importance of territorial coordination as a catalyzer for change.
Collective buying groups such as CSA have two facets. On the one hand, they belong to the wider social movement advocating ecological transition and are seeking to contribute to wider system changes. On the other hand, they are doing so through a very specific type of activism, that of creating concrete alternatives instead of protesting or lobbying. These two sides of their activity call for a different kind of support. The social enterprise side of the activity should not be overlooked.
The city of Basel (Switzerland) worked with a team of researchers from the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture to develop a “quick scan” of its existing actions without having to spend too much time to gather a lot of (and sometimes missing) data. This tool allows cities to compare their action with best practices from other cities and to identify untapped areas of work, while ensuring that local stakeholders get on board.
Some cities around the world have pioneered local food action. Two pieces of work published this year present insights from these pioneers. Here is an overview of key advice for any city willing to embark on a food policy.
Is local better than global? A European research project explored the question. The conclusion of the project is that, well, nothing is clear-cut. And cities should rather focus on bringing anyone – local and global food chains actors – on the path to sustainability.