Revisiting the Glocal : the critical role of alternative food movements in transforming the global food system
Abstract: The dominant food system is unable to guarantee food security for 11% of the global population and hasn't solved problems of hunger, malnutrition, and obesity on the one hand side, while it also contributes fundamentally to the degradation of natural resources and makes living in a safe operating space for humankind increasingly unlikely. A transformational reform of the food system enabling increased access to food of the world's food-insecure people is much needed. This can only be achieved via a broad political movement which increases pressure on politicians, enabling a fundamental change of the global neoliberal structures underlying the food system. Food sovereignty is a political framework which helps to unify social movements around the globe in this fight for political change. Among these are alternative food movements (AFMs), which work towards the localization of food systems. Some studies suggest that AFMs have great potential to support the transformation, due to their number. This thesis explores the transformational potential of AFMs by scrutinizing their current practices and presenting a model of what needs to be done to realize this potential. It includes a case study of a promising AFM in Germany, the Ernährungsrat Köln und Umgebung (ERKU; English: Cologne Food Policy Council). The theoretical frameworks were created using Bourdieu, Gramsci, critical realism and the food regime literature. Data collections were duly carried out and the analysis of the data was carried out using the models I created based on my theoretical frameworks. The main finding is ERKU fulfills the conditions to become a successful agent for food system change. It is aware of the global structures underlying the food system and incorporates this knowledge into its activities. Furthermore, ERKU's ambition goes further than establishing an AFM, but to transform the dominant food system. My results vindicate the focus on AFMs as change agents and point out the necessary conditions under which their transformational potential to support political change may be realized.
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