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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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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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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.

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Cultivating Civic Ecology

A Photovoice Study with Urban Gardeners in Lisbon, Portugal

Krista Harper and Ana Isabel Afonso

frames for efforts to promote urban gardening: ecological sustainability, economic rights, healthy food and social cohesion ( FAO 2010 ). Urban gardens are an important arena for civic ecology, defined as ‘local environmental stewardship actions taken to

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Marian Simon-Rojo, Inés Morales Bernardos and Jon Sanz Landaluze

Expectations about food as a key vector of social transformation have soared in recent years, and increasingly attention is being paid to food movements and urban agriculture 1 and their potential to reassert citizen (collective) control and to

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Patrick McEvoy

Cristina Grasseni, Heather Paxson, and Anna Tsing take us on three explorations of food systems in various parts of the world. Each examines practices responding to the unevenly distributed and increasingly precarious global food distribution system

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From Biotech to Nanotech

Public Debates about Technological Modifi cation of Food

Jennifer B. Rogers-Brown, Christine Shearer and Barbara Herr Harthorn

Technological modifications of food are being marketed as novel products that will enhance consumer choice and nutritional value. A recent manifestation is nanotechnology, entering the global food chain through food production, pesticides, vitamins, and food packaging. This article presents a detailed literature review on risk and benefit perceptions of technological developments for food and agriculture, including our own research from US deliberative workshops on nanotechnologies. The article suggests that many of the public concerns discussed in the literature on biotechnology in food are being raised in qualitative and quantitative studies on nanotechnologies for food: although nanotechnologies are generally perceived to be beneficial, many people express particular uneasiness about nanotechnological modifications of food. The article argues that these concerns represent material examples of unresolved social issues involving technologies and the food industry, including questions about the benefits of nanotechnology for food, and the heightened values attached to food as a cultural domain.

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Mapping the Food Movement

Addressing Inequality and Neoliberalism

Teresa Marie Mares and Alison Hope Alkon

In this article, we bring together academic literature tracing contemporary social movements centered on food, unpacking the discourses of local food, community food security, food justice, and food sovereignty. This body of literature transcends national borders and draws on a rich genealogy of studies on environmental justice, the intersections of race, class, and gender, and sustainable agro-food systems. Scholars have emphasized two key issues that persist within these movements: inequalities related to race and class that shape the production, distribution, and consumption of food, and the neoliberal constraints of market-based solutions to problems in the food system. This article claims that food movements in the United States would be strengthened through reframing their work within a paradigm of food sovereignty, an approach that would emphasize the production of local alternatives, but also enable a dismantling of the policies that ensure the dominance of the corporate food regime. The article concludes by offering a critical analysis of future research directions for scholars who are committed to understanding and strengthening more democratic and sustainable food systems.

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'Love Goes through the Stomach'

A Japanese–Korean Recipe for Post-conflict Reconciliation

Stephanie Hobbis Ketterer

Mimicking research and practice that demonstrates the importance of seemingly mundane acts for resolving protracted conflicts, this article enquires into the potential contributions of food-related practices to post-conflict reconciliation. Based on fieldwork with a Japanese–South Korean reconciliation initiative (Koinonia), the argument is made that food-related practices can create the spatio-temporal conditions necessary to mitigate successfully situations that may otherwise be characterised by misunderstandings, animosity and an unwillingness to move beyond dividing lines. It is demonstrated that food-related practices have the capacity to influence reconciliation positively throughout the three stages that are perceived as vital for building lasting relationships between conflicting parties: encouragement of participation in reconciliation events (stage 1), encouragement of positive interaction during reconciliation events (stage 2) and sustainability of reconciliation events after participants re-enter daily life and the likely negative perceptions of the Other therein (stage 3).