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Can Consumer Demand Deliver Sustainable Food?

Recent Research in Sustainable Consumption Policy and Practice

Cindy Isenhour

From Slow Food and farmers' markets to ecolabels and fair trade an unprecedented number of consumer-based alternative food movements have risen in response to concerns about the environmental and social effects of industrialized agriculture. Some research suggests that these movements are successful in their efforts to reconnect communities, demystify global food chains, and produce sustainable foods, which are healthier for the planet and human bodies. Yet other scholars argue that the contemporary focus on consumer responsibility in policy and practice indicates much more than a process of reflexive modernization. The devolution of responsibility to consumers and the dominance of market-based solutions, these scholars argue, reflect the growing influence of neoliberal environmental governance. From this perspective these movements are naive in their assumption that consumers have the power necessary to overcome the structural barriers that inhibit significant change. These critics argue that the focus on consumer responsibility excludes those without access to consumer choice, reproduces social hierarchies, and fails to deliver the political and redistributive solutions necessary to achieve sustainability. Drawing on research across the social sciences this article surveys the existing evidence about the effectiveness of consumer-based movements in their attempts to create sustainable food systems.

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Nikolai Goncharov

This article proposes a view of the Allaikhovskii district (Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)) located in the Russian Arctic as a “laboratory” in which various actors (the state, regional authorities, local communities) have been actively working on the production of food security. Based on both field experience and published literature, I describe a multilayered process of foodscape formation in this region. The unique elements that characterize the foodscape of the district are the nonautomated modes of food production caused by territorial isolation, unsatisfactory infrastructure, the high price of food delivery, and environmental changes. All these factors create fragile foodscape; the life of local residents can be characterized as “being with risk,” which inspires certain compensatory measures implemented by different layered actors. The impossibility of creating a consistent and reliable system of subsistence thus reinforces a “laboratory” regime of permanent experiments to maintain food security. The Arctic laboratory is not located in separate place with specialists (as in the case discussed by Bruno Latour) but distributed throughout the actors and their activities connected with their lifestyles in this specific territory.

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The Incredible Edible Movement

People Power, Adaptation, and Challenges in Rennes (France) and Montreal (Canada)

Giulia Giacchè and Lya Porto

al. 2015 ) or collective ( McClintock 2014 ) gardens, as well as for guerrilla gardening initiatives ( Hodgson et al. 2011 ; McClintock 2014 ). Common characteristics of community or collective gardens are the medium or small scale of food or

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Sidney Mintz

The creation of a scientifically pure sweetness was a historical process comparable to the standardisation of cooking oil or salt. But the case of sugar is almost unique. Today, quite different processes, concerned more with marketing than with chemistry, serve to elaborate, multiply and reshuffle products. These have the common objective of enlarging the aggregate market. They play upon taste, class aspiration and otherwise, to diversify the market in terms of class, ethnicity, and other criteria of social assortment, by inflecting the products themselves. Here I argue that two different meanings of the term ‘purity’ are popular, and that both are used to broaden and to deepen consumption.

Open access

Christian Bromberger

In the Iranian world, Gilân displays a strong specificity, including the registers of food and cooking. 1 In this rice-producing region, the consumption of rice is much higher than elsewhere in Iran ( Figure 1 ). Among the eating habits of their

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The Whiteness of French Food

Law, Race, and Eating Culture in France

Mathilde Cohen

Food is central to French identity. So too is the republican universalist ideology that denies structural racism and the salience of racial identity. Both tenets are central to the nation's self-definition, making them difficult yet all the more

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From Urban Agriculture to Urban Food

Food System Analysis Based on Interaction Between Research, Policy, and Society

Heidrun Moschitz, Jan Landert, Christian Schader, and Rebekka Frick

Urban Agriculture in the Urban Food System Urban agriculture practice involves a new way of thinking about food, including a critique of the predominant food system. It plays a major role in making food visible and can thus support a general

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Food Sovereignty

A New Rights Framework for Food and Nature?

Hannah Wittman

Food sovereignty, as a critical alternative to the concept of food security, is broadly defined as the right of local peoples to control their own food systems, including markets, ecological resources, food cultures, and production modes. This article reviews the origins of the concept of food sovereignty and its theoretical and methodological development as an alternative approach to food security, building on a growing interdisciplinary literature on food sovereignty in the social and agroecological sciences. Specific elements of food sovereignty examined include food regimes, rights-based and citizenship approaches to food and food sovereignty, and the substantive concerns of advocates for this alternative paradigm, including a new trade regime, agrarian reform, a shift to agroecological production practices, attention to gender relations and equity, and the protection of intellectual and indigenous property rights. The article concludes with an evaluation of community-based perspectives and suggestions for future research on food sovereignty.

Open access

Marie-Luce Gélard

perçu comme une valeur éminemment positive. La dessiccation préalable de certains aliments suivie de leur réhydratation avant leur consommation est une intervention essentielle à l'esthétique gustative. Si le goût a longtemps été négligé par les Food

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Plastic Packaging, Food Supply, and Everyday Life

Adopting a Social Practice Perspective in Social-Ecological Research

Lukas Sattlegger, Immanuel Stieß, Luca Raschewski, and Katharina Reindl

Studying Plastic Packaging in Food Supply as an Everyday Life Sustainability Problem The global plastic waste problem, arising from the increasing use of single-use plastic items, is prominently visible in accumulations of marine litter in oceans