Building Sustainable Communities Through Alternative Food Systems

2015, In Guy Robinson, G. and Doris Carson (eds.), Handbook on the Globalisation of Agriculture (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing).

Abstract

Food provides a meaningful lens to create and build more sustainable communities. Given the challenges currently facing humanity it offers a shared basis for transformation. It can act as a platform for social equity, personal well-being, ecological resilience and robust economies. Through food, we have the capacity to tackle climate change, water quality and quantity degradation, the global diabetes crisis, and gross social inequity. While acknowledging that each community food system is as unique as the space/place where it emerges, there are some factors that seem to increase levels of sustainability. The proposed chapter will extend earlier theoretical work on sustainable food systems and assess existing frameworks in light of empirical work through a selection of case studies in Ontario, Canada. These case studies are grounded in work from six universities and represent a scan of over 200 projects in the province. Each case study will be assessed through the lens of complex adaptive systems theory with a view to understanding more about the role of the principles derived from chaos and complexity theory including diversity, connectivity, self-organization, nested hierarchies and iterative feedback loops.

Alison Blay-Palmer and Irena Knezevic