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Growing local food: scale and local food systems governance


  • Phil Mount



“Scaling-up” is the next hurdle facing the local food movement. In order to effect broader systemic impacts, local food systems (LFS) will have to grow, and engage either more or larger consumers and producers. Encouraging the involvement of mid-sized farms looks to be an elegant solution, by broadening the accessibility of local food while providing alternative revenue streams for troubled family farms. Logistical, structural and regulatory barriers to increased scale in LFS are well known. Less is understood about the way in which scale developments affect the perception and legitimacy of LFS. This value-added opportunity begs the question: Is the value that adheres to local food scalable? Many familiar with local food discourse might suggest that important pieces of added value within LFS are generated by the reconnection of producer and consumer, the direct exchange through which this occurs, and the shared goals and values that provide the basis for reconnection. However, these assertions are based on tenuous assumptions about how interactions within the direct exchange produce value, and how LFS are governed. Examination shows that existing assumptions do not properly acknowledge the hybridity, diversity, and flexibility inherent in LFS. A clear analysis of the potential of scale in LFS will depend on understanding both how value is determined within LFS, and the processes through which these systems are governed. Such an analysis shows that, while scaled-up LFS will be challenged to maintain legitimacy and an identity as “alternative”, the establishment of an open governance process—based on a “negotiation of accommodations”—is likely to enhance their viability. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Phil Mount, 2012. "Growing local food: scale and local food systems governance," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 29(1), pages 107-121, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:29:y:2012:i:1:p:107-121
    DOI: 10.1007/s10460-011-9331-0

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael Carolan, 2006. "Social change and the adoption and adaptation of knowledge claims: Whose truth do you trust in regard to sustainable agriculture?," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 23(3), pages 325-339, October.
    2. Roberta Sonnino & Terry Marsden, 2006. "Beyond the divide: rethinking relationships between alternative and conventional food networks in Europe," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 181-199, April.
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    4. John Smithers & Alun Joseph, 2010. "The trouble with authenticity: separating ideology from practice at the farmers’ market," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 27(2), pages 239-247, June.
    5. E. DuPuis & Sean Gillon, 2009. "Alternative modes of governance: organic as civic engagement," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 26(1), pages 43-56, March.
    6. Oliver Moore, 2008. "How embedded are organic fresh fruit and vegetables at Irish farmers' markets and what does the answer say about the organic movement? An exploration, using three models," International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 7(1/2), pages 144-157.
    7. Patricia Allen & Martin Kovach, 2000. "The capitalist composition of organic: The potential of markets in fulfilling the promise of organic agriculture," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 17(3), pages 221-232, September.
    8. Moya Kneafsey, 2010. "The region in food--important or irrelevant?," Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, Cambridge Political Economy Society, vol. 3(2), pages 177-190.
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    Cited by:

    1. Navé Wald & Douglas P. Hill, 2016. "‘Rescaling’ alternative food systems: from food security to food sovereignty," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 33(1), pages 203-213, March.
    2. Giaime Berti & Catherine Mulligan, 2016. "Competitiveness of Small Farms and Innovative Food Supply Chains: The Role of Food Hubs in Creating Sustainable Regional and Local Food Systems," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(7), pages 1-31, July.
    3. Finco, A. & Sargentoni, T. & Tramontano, A. & Bentivoglio, Deborah & Rasetti, M., 2013. "Economic Sustainability of Short Food Supply Chain in the Italian Olive Oil Sector: A Viable Alternative for Tunisian Agrofood Market?," 2013 AAAE Fourth International Conference, September 22-25, 2013, Hammamet, Tunisia 160681, African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE).
    4. repec:spr:agrhuv:v:34:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10460-016-9722-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Rebecca Som Castellano, 2015. "Alternative food networks and food provisioning as a gendered act," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 32(3), pages 461-474, September.
    6. repec:spr:agrhuv:v:34:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10460-017-9778-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:spr:agfoec:v:5:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1186_s40100-017-0079-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Alexandra Doernberg & Ingo Zasada & Katarzyna Bruszewska & Björn Skoczowski & Annette Piorr, 2016. "Potentials and Limitations of Regional Organic Food Supply: A Qualitative Analysis of Two Food Chain Types in the Berlin Metropolitan Region," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(11), pages 1-20, November.
    9. repec:spr:agrhuv:v:34:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10460-016-9741-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Mary Hendrickson, 2015. "Resilience in a concentrated and consolidated food system," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer;Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, vol. 5(3), pages 418-431, September.
    11. Hannah Pitt & Mat Jones, 2016. "Scaling up and out as a Pathway for Food System Transitions," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(10), pages 1-16, October.
    12. Angga Dwiartama & Cinzia Piatti, 2016. "Assembling local, assembling food security," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 33(1), pages 153-164, March.
    13. Amaranta Herrero & Fern Wickson & Rosa Binimelis, 2015. "Seeing GMOs from a Systems Perspective: The Need for Comparative Cartographies of Agri/Cultures for Sustainability Assessment," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(8), pages 1-24, August.
    14. repec:spr:agrhuv:v:34:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10460-016-9738-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Jill K. Clark & Shoshanah M. Inwood, 2016. "Scaling-up regional fruit and vegetable distribution: potential for adaptive change in the food system," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 33(3), pages 503-519, September.
    16. repec:spr:agrhuv:v:34:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10460-016-9755-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Terry, William, 2014. "Solving labor problems and building capacity in sustainable agriculture through volunteer tourism," Annals of Tourism Research, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 94-107.
    18. repec:spr:agrhuv:v:34:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10460-017-9775-y is not listed on IDEAS
    19. repec:spr:agrhuv:v:34:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10460-016-9717-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Hendrickson, Mary K. & Howard, Philip H. & Constance, Douglas H., 2017. "Power, Food and Agriculture: Implications for Farmers, Consumers and Communities," EconStor Preprints 171171, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.


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