Sustainable Food Futures (NEW BOOK)

bok cover

Voltaire once said that “no problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking”.

In this book, we put that statement to the test. The problems plaguing food systems are well researched and well known. But how can we support transformation towards sustainable and just food systems?

One thing is clear,  the objective of future food systems can no longer be to simply maximise productivity

 

 

We are very pleased to announce that our new book, Sustainable Food Futures: Multidisciplinary Solutionshas just been published. The book includes proposals for solutions to move us toward more sustainable food futures.  The solutions, which are based on concrete cases, are organised around 4 themes:

  1. Recognizing place
  2. Enhancing participation
  3. Challenging markets
  4. Designing sustainable food futures

 

The solutions proposed in this book can be read as an atlas of possibilities.

There are multiple roads we can, and must, travel to bring us towards our destination: just and sustainable food futures. And yet, instead of moving towards a brighter future, we continue with a status quo that is not good enough.

To reach sustainable food futures, we require diligent and creative route planning. Not every route will work for everyone, or every context. Some routes will require us to go off road, while others take us along the toll roads. Others set about redefining what we know to be a road, and some may lead us directly to road blocks.

It is our hope that the majority will lead us to new social-technical or social-economic arrangements that promote just, sustainable, and fair food futures.

The book is available as a hardback, paperback and eBook.  We would really appreciate it if you could ask your local libraries to purchase a copy!  PS- it includes recipes!

Continue reading “Sustainable Food Futures (NEW BOOK)”

THE VITALITY OF EVERYDAY FOOD

Food ag and social change blog.png

This was originally posted on ILEIA‘s website. It was written by  Stephen SherwoodMyriam Paredes and Alberto Arce who have edited a new book ‘Agriculture, Food, and Social Change: The Everyday Vitality of Latin America’ (UK: Routledge/Earthscan Press). I have co-authored a chapter in this book that I will summarise in a later post.


A great deal of energy has been invested in attempts to influence the thinking in science and government on the problems of industrial food and the benefits of agroecology and food sovereignty. Meanwhile, people everywhere take responsibility for creating the changes they want to see through daily food practices in their families, neighbourhoods and social networks. In addition to organising for ‘resistance’, we call for greater attention to the latent potential in daily living and being, or existence.

A popular ‘trueque’ or barter trade event in northern Ecuador, where people exchange their goods without the use of money. Photo: Colectivo Agroecólogio

We all have a serious problem when people’s most basic activity – eating – undermines their ability to exist. Yet this is precisely what we have achieved with the advent of modern food. Through the pursuit of cheap food as a ‘good’, we have generated a series of unwanted ‘bads’, such as mass destruction of soils and water systems, erosion of agrobiodiversity, and widescale sickness and death by pesticides, not to mention the constitution of two, rampant pandemics: overweight/obesity and global warming/climate change. Fortunately, growing awareness of the contradictions of modern food is sparking lively counter movements.

We challenge the widespread preoccupation over how agriculture, food, and development should be. Instead, we focus on how everyday experience in agriculture and food is. The work of social movements in the Americas leads us to call attention to the forces of change in people’s everyday encounters with food – not as characterised in concept, but rather as embodied in practice. Continue reading “THE VITALITY OF EVERYDAY FOOD”

Understanding Sustainable Food System Transitions: Practice, Assessment and Governance

SoRo Sustainable Food Transitions

I am very pleased to share that a new special issue of Sociologia Ruralis edited by Damian Maye and me is now online: Understanding Sustainable Food System Transitions: Practice, Assessment and Governance.

The Special Issue provides theoretical insights and advancements into sustainability transitions through empirically grounded and informed investigations of food system practices. The papers confirm, following Hinrichs (2014, p. 143), that ‘numerous opportunities exist to forge more productive links between work on food systems change and the broad and growing sustainability transitions field’.

The Special Issue brings together 8 articles grouped together around two themes:

  1.  Examining relations between AFN practices and transition;
  2. Opening up measures and assessment practices for sustainability transitions.

Taken as a whole, the Special Issue advances discussions and thinking on alternative food practices and sustainability, opening up the debate not only on how to identify and analyse ‘alternative food practices’ in Europe, and beyond, but also on sustainability assessment metrics, governance processes and what counts as ‘sustainable’ in sustainability transitions.

Contents of the Special Issue

Understanding Sustainable Food System Transitions: Practice, Assessment and Governance Damian Maye and Jessica Duncan

Theme 1: Examining Relations Between AFN Practices and Transition

Theme 2: Opening Up Measures and Assessment Practices for Sustainable Food Transitions

Network of Rural and Agrarian Studies Conference

I have been asked to share this call for papers with readers of this blog. Happy submitting!

The Fifth Annual National Conference of Network of Rural and Agrarian Studies (NRAS) will be held during 27-29 October, 2017 at the Nabakrushna Choudhury Centre for Development Studies, Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

The theme of the conference is ‘Agrarian Transition’ and Rural­‐Urban Linkages in India in the Twenty-first Century’.

The conference is now open for paper submissions. Please see the detailed Concept Note  and Call for Papers below.

Papers for the Conference can be submitted through easychair.org.

For regular updates on the conference please visit and bookmark the Conference Blog.

The CFS policy recommendations on Connecting Smallholders to Markets

An important step for increasing peasant family farmer recognition in the global governance of food and agriculture

By Thomas Patriota

layyah-pakistan-fruit-vegetable-market
Photo credit:  Kamran Ali

By Thomas Patriota

This entry is part of a special series of blog posts about the UN’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS): The Future of the CFS? Collectively reflecting on the directions of UN’s most inclusive body. Read more about this project here.

Today we inaugurate the fourth and last thematic cluster on “Emerging Issues at the CFS: How are they being addressed?”.  Thomas Patriota comments on policy recommendations adopted at the last CFS: Connecting Smallholders to Markets (CSTM). Reviewing the discussions that lead to this instrument, he stresses that the CSTM represent an important discursive affirmation of the primary role of smallholders in agricultural investment and food security. He further argues that the adoption of the CSTM recommendations is a step forward in recognizing peasant family farming within global food governance.

This is not an exclusive project. If you would like to participate, please let us know: foodsecuresolutions@gmail.com

Increasing recognition of the central role of smallholders in food security and nutrition in the CFS

The policy recommendations on Connecting Smallholders to Markets (CSTM) adopted at the CFS 43 session last October are an important new addition to the gradual accumulation of policy dialogue and consensus-building on measures for the strengthening of peasant family farming[1] that can be traced back to the 37th CFS session in 2011 – two years after the Committee’s reform.

That session’s policy roundtable on ‘How to Increase Food Security and Smallholder-Sensitive Investment in Agriculture’ saw the terms of multilateral policy debate on this issue crucially shifted (McKeon, 2015). The relative strength of the  discursive affirmations enshrined in the CFS 37 final report regarding the primary role of smallholders in both agricultural investment and food security gradually intensified in the following years. This can be partly attributed to the strong evidence and argumentative basis provided by the HLPE report that was commissioned during that session and from which would emerge the policy recommendations on ‘Investing in Smallholder Agriculture for Food Security and Nutrition’, endorsed at the CFS 40 session in 2013.

These in turn eventually yielded the High Level Forum on Connecting Smallholders to Markets, held in 2015, for which a Background Document previously prepared by a technical task team comprising members of the three Rome-based UN agencies plus the Civil Society and Private Sector Mechanisms also contributed to deepening the quality of policy debate. The resulting CSTM recommendations adopted in July of the following year and their endorsement three months later at CFS 43 are the latest developments in this succession of debates and policy documents.

Investing in Smallholder Agriculture for Food Security and Connecting Smallholders to Markets

Whereas the first set of policy recommendations is framed with regards to investment by and for smallholders, and the second on strengthening smallholders’ access to markets, both documents cover a considerably wide range of interconnected policies, and how these relate to the roles of both state and private actors. But they also bring in a narrative that posits a greater degree of autonomy for smallholders both politically, with regards to the state (through the promotion of greater organizational strength for smallholders and more bottom-up direct participation of organizations in policy formulation and implementation) as well as economically, particularly in their interaction with larger and more vertically integrated transnational private actors (with which diverse forms of contract farming are only seen as potential opportunities for smallholders if and when properly regulated, so as to ensure a level-playing field in both contract negotiation and enforcement).

The CSTM policy recommendations in particular give special importance to ‘institutional procurement’ programs, reflecting an increasing consensus on the benefits for both consumers and small-scale food producers of using the structured demand of state institutions (schools, hospitals, social protection programs) to directly purchase food from smallholders. This increasing consensus on public procurement programs is not only reflected in CFS policy guidelines, but also in reports, programs and activities undertaken by FAO, IFAD, and WFP, as well as in other branches of the UN system – such as the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, through its Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.

‘Soft’ CFS policy recommendations, ‘hard’ WTO restrictions, and potential contributions of FAO in bridging the gap

Despite this growing recognition, public procurement and other forms of state support to smallholders in developing countries are considerably restricted by existing multilateral trade rules, as defined by the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) and in particular its provisions on Public Stockholding for Food Security – an issue that has come to the fore since the Bali Ministerial Conference in 2013. Indeed, although WTO rules in principle allow developing states to purchase from their country’s family farmers to constitute national food security stocks, severe restrictions apply regarding any form of price support given to these farmers by the purchasing public institutions[2].

Continue reading “The CFS policy recommendations on Connecting Smallholders to Markets”

Pre-announcement Vacancy Associate or Full Professor in Agrarian Sociology

Excellent position in our group! Click on the title to see the pre-announcement text.

Rural Sociology Wageningen University

On the 5th of January 2017 we will open a vacancy for an associate or full professor in agrarian sociology. We are looking for someone with demonstrated excellence in research and education in the domain of agrarian and rural sociology. The associate/full professor will undertake independent research and participate in (and coordinate) international research projects, focusing on topics such as agricultural and rural development, rural-urban transformation processes, transitions towards regenerative agriculture, and the role of (multifunctional) agriculture in rural eco-economies. The associate/full professor will also teach courses for the Bachelor and Master programs International Development Studies and the Master program Organic Agriculture, and supervise Bachelor and Master thesis students for these programs. Other aspects of the job include project acquisition, training and supervision of PhD students and participation in various research and/or education committees. At least 40% of the time will be spent on research, a maximum of 40% on education and approximately 20% on…

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