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local food movements

March 3, 2017

Topic: Research

Local food movements anchor sustainable food governance

‘National policies have a direct impact on the decisions made by landowners, which in turn affects farm management, wildlife, and families potentially for generations,’ writes Alan R. Hunt in his book, Civic Engagement in Food System Governance: A comparative perspective of American and British local food movements.  

Hunt illustrates the importance of civic participation to create sustainable long-term change in food governance. He prefaces the study with an account of two interventions of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) on his family farm in his grandfather’s time. One, a pond that supplied local species, and the other, the planting of non-native berries to draw birds. In this, he observes that decisions made by one generation can have lasting effects on the future, highlighting the need for ‘on-the-ground’ perspectives to inform policy.

The book suggests a theory of food systems practice with six key approaches involving: multiple sectors, levels, objectives, interdisciplinary analysis, participation, and inclusivity. It approaches food and farm-related practice as an interconnected whole comprised of people and places that together produce and consume food. Presenting a descriptive history of local food movements in the US and UK – built on evidence from interviews, participant commentary and documents – it also provides an examination of contextual differences of British and American movements, including understanding the role of culture, conflict, and political structures in creating coalitions.

Alan R. Hunt is owner and principal at Local Food Strategies LLC, Hampton, New Jersey (USA). His research explores farm policy, sustainable food systems, and food access. As a Fulbright Scholar, Hunt earned a PhD in Rural Development at the Centre for Rural Economy, Newcastle University, UK.   

Photo: Martin Winkler/Pixabay/cc