Imagining transformative food futures: starting with people on the front lines   

By: Joost Vervoort

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   “

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Urban Food Governance and Translocal Assemblages in the UK

By: Helen Coulson

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”

Alternative food networks & food security

by Pedro Cerrada Serra

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”

Public catering as an effective food policy measure in Finland

By: Ville Tikka & Tiina Silvasti, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

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”

Zooming in on ‘Food poverty’

By Brídín Carroll

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’”

Promising insights into local pathways to food and nutrition security

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”

Urban Agriculture in Eindhoven. Experiences from the last workshop (Netherlands)

On June 8th, we had our final workshop on urban agriculture in the Dutch city of Eindhoven. Together with the organization Proeftuin040 and stakeholders representing a range of perspectives (e.g. urban food initiatives, housing corporation, municipality of Eindhoven, regional government, NGOs, and social welfare institutions among other parties) we dived into three different scenarios and reflected on how the preliminary urban agriculture vision for Eindhoven looked like against these possible future contexts.

1We kickstarted the workshop by briefly presenting the three scenarios that participants were asked to work with, in this way all participants had an idea of the whole range of futures being used in the exercise. These three scenarios were local adaptations from the ones developed through our EU-level workshops and outlined three potential futures for 2030. That meant that scenarios were infused with locally relevant features and events related to design and technology, (power) dynamics and control of innovation processes, inflow and outflow of expert labor, green and cultural development, social inequality, etc. Continue reading “Urban Agriculture in Eindhoven. Experiences from the last workshop (Netherlands)”

Food assistance towards food security: the second local workshop in Tuscany (Italy)

On the 3rd of May, the second local workshop for “Food assistance towards food security” took place in Florence. This allowed to close the circle and make sense of the work started in workshop 1 (read this). The aim of the workshops is to engage key players in exploring plausible futures in order to test food assistance strategies. The final goal is to provide suitable instruments for stakeholders to tackle the challenges they currently face in the changing context.

The groundwork for this second workshop was laid during the first workshop (held on the 1st of February) and by the following elaboration of the content by the UNIPI research team. In particular we obtained two sets of apparently disjointed results: Continue reading “Food assistance towards food security: the second local workshop in Tuscany (Italy)”

Experiences from Latvia: Local foresight workshop on school meal systems

The status and development of the Latvian school meal system was the main focus of the first local workshop by the Baltic Studies Centre-team. On the 18th of February we welcomed 19 participants to discuss the current status and developments within the school meal systems. The participants ranged from high level Ministry officials to end users  faced with changes in the school meal system; the high school pupils.

The timing of the workshop was somewhat complicated, as the beginning of 2016 saw a dramatic increase of controversy over new regulations of school meal quality aspects issued by the Ministry of Health. Thus the scenario workshop had the added value of providing the much needed safe and non-partisan meeting place for various stakeholders to try and align the diverse perspectives and agendas. Many participants noted that in the course of their professional activities they do not get the opportunity to meet some of the groups represented at the workshop and this opportunity was much appreciated. This workshop focussed on the desired goals in the school meal system, possible paths to attain those goals, and the downscaling of three EU-level scenarios to the level of the food system and school meals in Latvia. Continue reading “Experiences from Latvia: Local foresight workshop on school meal systems”