Sustainability from farm to fork : education and the social construction of the environment in an agro-food park - the case of F.I.CO

University essay from SLU/Dept. of Urban and Rural Development

Abstract: Alternative food systems are emerging as a response to globalisation and industrialisation. With environmental destruction increasingly becoming an issue alongside with the growing concern about traditional food systems, unconventional trends in food sector have risen steeply in the past decades. Their birth has also been accompanied by the broadened target of environmental education, seeking to exit the formal classrooms and to embrace society with its various contexts. In the will to provide a creative answer to the unsustainability in food production and consumption, these emerging trends engage in representations and movements that generate problems of environmental justice and sustainability. This study investigates the problematization of environmental aspects within F.I.CO, a newly born agro-food park in Bologna. By linking environmental degradation with society‟s detachment from food production and nature, F.I.CO mimics the new trends and also claims to be an innovative platform that brings together producers and consumers around environmental education and sustainable practices. In this attempt, F.I.CO reconstructs the whole agro-food chain under one roof and makes it visible and experienceable for its visitors. Attention is thus drawn within F.I.CO on the lack of transparency within the current food system, which F.I.CO seeks to change through bright glass windows on the production chain and through education. Changing consumers‟ behaviour in favour of a growingly aware society is thus presented as a solution to the unsustainable features of the current scenario. However, this study shows how, in representing the problem in the way it does, F.I.CO is articulating environmental friendliness through food consumption. The emphasis is in fact on consumers, who are made responsible for the issue. This is reflected in the rise of the responsible consumer as a subject position. Hence, this study concludes that in perpetuating the knowledges of green governmentality, F.I.CO is dropping the responsibility of an ethical food sector on individuals‟ shoulders. Buying in F.I.CO thus is presented to the visitors as the way to become part of the solution.

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