When the future of food in Europe is discussed by policy makers, conversations traditionally focus on large-scale economics and on agricultural production. At the same time, however, people in initiatives and organizations all throughout Europe are actively experimenting with new ways to organize European food, often at local and national levels. The people involved in these initiatives have diverse and transformative ideas about what food in Europe’s future could be, and these ideas drive them to work hard to achieve their desired futures. But this lively and diverse world of food system experimentation fails to connect, for the most part, to national and European policy dialogues.
In the FP7 TRANSMANGO project, we aimed to explore the future hopes and worries of people working in such highly innovative and transformative projects and networks. This exploration of different futures was done in close collaboration with the people involved in such initiatives. TRANSMANGO researchers aimed to offer different futuring tools – visioning, back-casting (planning backward from the future) and the use of challenging scenarios – to transformative food initiatives. These approaches were offered in the first place to help such initiatives think more strategically about their own goals and how they could be reached in the face of the pressures that a changing future might offer. By focusing on using different approaches for engaging with the future on the specific plans and strategies of food initiatives, we aimed to make sure that future explorations were concretely useful to all involved. Continue reading “Imagining transformative food futures: starting with people on the front lines “
Collaborative food partnerships have proliferated throughout the United Kingdom (UK) over the past decade in an attempt to strategically ‘scale-up’ civil society activities to create spaces of deliberation in the form of cross-sector participatory food system governance coalitions (Moragues-Faus and Morgan 2015). In the absence of an integrated and comprehensive UK-wide national food policy, cities, towns, counties and boroughs are developing various partnerships orientated around participatory and holistic place-based food policy, contextualised by multi-scalar, however, always locally embedded and experienced socio-ecological inequities and injustices.
In this sense, urban areas are positioning themselves as key food policy actors, and strategic sites to reimagine and enact innovative governance configurations as a way to inspire a more participatory, inclusive and emancipatory politics around food (Moragues-Faus et al. 2013). Continue reading “Urban Food Governance and Translocal Assemblages in the UK”
Our food system has become increasingly global. The industrialised mainstream model dominates in in the Global North and its high productivity often comes with a well-known heavy burden in terms of environmental and socio-economic negative externalities (biodiversity loss, resource depletion, large-scale exodus of farmers, price volatility…). This “corporate food regime” (in McMichael (2004) terms), has led to a privatization of food security, a “shift in the ‘site’ of food security from the nation-state to the world market” that has proved unable to ensure food and nutrition security (FNS) for all (undernurished people accounts for 11% of total population while overweight and obesity are on the rise everywhere, according to the last State of Food Security and Nutrition report).
Food insecurity is not a distant issue. It also affects fully developed economies as we have witnessed in Europe, particularly associated with the rising unemployment and falling wages hitting hard during the recent economic crisis (some TRANSMANGO case studies go deeper with the issue: food assistance in Tuscany, Dutch food banks, BIA food initiative in Ireland or new-agricultural initiatives in peri-urban Valencia). Continue reading “Alternative food networks & food security”
As the project TRANSMANGO is coming to an end, we now focus on lessons learned. Public procurement had been selected as one of five key areas of concern and for a deeper analysis in work package 5. As public procurement relates to all goods and services purchased with public money, it is a subject particularly important for food governance (for a detailed look at this analysis see D5.2).
Public procurement accounts for a significant proportion of GDP (17% in the EU) and this has led to the recognition of public procurement’s power to affect changes towards greater sustainability. In addition, it inhabits a unique position whereby it can affect demand-side and supply-side change. It addresses the former by targeting groups which are most vulnerable to food poverty by providing nutritious food. It impacts the latter by creating new markets for smaller and often more sustainable producers Continue reading “Harnessing the power of public money for FNS”
It is surprising, how small and occasional attention public catering as a modern food policy practice ensuring food and nutrition security in Finland has attracted. After all, it is estimated that one in three Finns of working age belongs to the clientele of public or subsidized catering and, when explored from the life course perspective, everyone in Finland enjoys public meals in some phase of her/his life.
It is estimated that a third of the Finnish population use public catering services on a daily basis: Coverage of free school lunch is 100 per cent in the age group of 7-16 years and approximately half of the children below the age of seven eat for free – or to be precise, at taxpayers’ expense – in day care, kindergarten or preschool. Also upper secondary schools and vocational institutions serve free school lunches. Continue reading “Public catering as an effective food policy measure in Finland”
Food poverty has been identified by TRANSMANGO as a key area of concern for food and nutrition security (FNS) in Europe (see D5.2). But what exactly is ‘food poverty’?
Food poverty is defined as existing when one cannot access or avail of a safe and healthy diet, often because of financial restrictions. A key element of food poverty is uncertainty of supply and understandings of this concept therefore also tend to incorporate considerations of social or cultural norms, standards, customs or acceptability with regard to food (Nikolic et al, 2014; Dowler and O’Connor, 2012; Burns et al, 2010; Balanda et al, 2008; Dowler et al, 2007). Continue reading “Zooming in on ‘Food poverty’”
Four years into the project, roughly 30 country level food systems reports and about 18 deliverables later… And many of us will have had a question about mangoes at some point in time while at a conference or a local meeting. To clear the air and clarify what TRANSMANGO is all about; I’ll give a brief (as possible) overview of the project’s interdisciplinary, multi-layered and multi-sited work and some of the key deliverables and interesting reports produced throughout these years. Sad to say, this will not involve any mangoes… 🙂
As we set out on this ambitious project, our aims were to firstly, reformulate the debate on FNS. A second, more methodological objective, was to develop new ways of system modelling by combing quantitive and qualitative approaches. And lastly, through his new methodological approach we aimed to connect EU-level dynamics and local-level dynamics regarding food systems. The idea behind all these objectives was to connect the work on quantitative and indicator-based assessments of food systems to the vast empirical diversity regarding the securities, vulnerabilities and sovereignties around food, and as such build a comprehensive picture of EU food systems.
Continue reading “TRANSMANGO: The project that is *not* about mangoes”
A major part of the TRANSMANGO project, was the interrogation of locally enacted pathways to address food system vulnerabilities and ensure food and nutrition security. Although food system vulnerabilities have been subject to a variety of global and national interventions, programmes and policies, these have not been able to fully address these challenges.
The starting point for WP6 was the assumption that food systems cannot be understood as uniform. ‘Local’ actors too attempt to address food system vulnerabilities within their locality and in doing so may offer promising and resilient practices. The recently published local food and nutrition security (FNS) pathways reports showcase a rich diversity of practices found at the local level and can serve as insights for policy-makers at EU and local level. The cases have been synthesised in D6.4.
Continue reading “Promising insights into local pathways to food and nutrition security”
Just as increasing calls and debates occur regarding the need for a more integrated and comprehensive Food and Agricultural policy across Europe we now have the Brexit result, which whilst not changing the urgency for the need to debate the shape of European policy beyond 2020, certainly adds another dimension and potential ‘opportunity space’ for such developments. Whilst specific instruments and policy programmes might indeed increasingly vary across Europe, this result does not quell the need to debate what sort of founding and common principles upon which such policies should be based.
Here I would like to set out some of the issues and reactions to the Brexit vote for the agri-food policy arena, some of which I presented and discussed at the recent UK Food Research Consortium held at City University, London in July. I also draw upon the recent policy paper we have written, entitled ‘Food Policy and Public Policy’ for the Welsh Minister for Farming and Food . In addition these arguments here draw upon the research and discussions associated with the ongoing (and increasingly policy relevant) EU funded research project, TRANSMANGO  . Continue reading “Brexit: Towards building a new consensus for an Integrated Food and Rural Development Policy?”