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Buying local organic food: a pathway to transformative learning


  • Sarah Kerton
  • A. Sinclair



Food is a powerful symbol in the struggle to transition to a more sustainable pathway since the food choices citizens make have deep environmental and social impacts within their communities and around the world. Using transformative learning theory, this research explored the learning that took place among individual adults who consumed goods directly from local organic producers, and how this behavior affected their worldview. Learning was classified as instrumental, communicative, or transformative. Ultimately, we considered if the learning created lasting change, directed toward a more sustainable society, among learners. Three different models of producer/consumer interfaces located in Atlantic Canada were considered: a market-garden operation, an education and outreach center, and a community shared agriculture project. It was found that all participants experienced some form of learning, either instrumental or communicative, through their participation in organic agriculture. Closing the gap between producer and consumer through direct contact with the farmer at a market, visiting the farm, or participating in food production oneself is both a desirable step in reaching a more sustainable lifestyle and a powerful learning tool in linking the consumer to a host of other environmental and social issues. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Suggested Citation

  • Sarah Kerton & A. Sinclair, 2010. "Buying local organic food: a pathway to transformative learning," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 27(4), pages 401-413, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:27:y:2010:i:4:p:401-413
    DOI: 10.1007/s10460-009-9233-6

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anthony Winson, 2004. "Bringing political economy into the debate on the obesity epidemic," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 21(4), pages 299-312, January.
    2. Juan Palerm, 2000. "An Empirical-Theoretical Analysis Framework for Public Participation in Environmental Impact Assessment," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(5), pages 581-600.
    3. Philip McMichael, 2000. "The power of food," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 17(1), pages 21-33, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Yasuo Ohe & Shinichi Kurihara & Shinpei Shimoura, 2014. "Evaluating willingness to become a food education volunteer among urban residents in Japan: toward a participatory food policy," Agricultural and Food Economics, Springer;Italian Society of Agricultural Economics (SIDEA), vol. 2(1), pages 1-19, December.
    2. Rachel A. Carson & Zoe Hamel & Kelly Giarrocco & Rebecca Baylor & Leah Greden Mathews, 2016. "Buying in: the influence of interactions at farmers’ markets," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 33(4), pages 861-875, December.


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