An ecosystem for alternative food networks in Uppsala : With social innovation towards food democracy

University essay from SLU/Department of Molecular Sciences

Abstract: Sustainable food system transition (SFST) is an inevitable aim for the world’s societies to tackle global challenges caused by industrial, neo-liberal food industries such as climate change, biodiversity loss, food inequality and so forth. The social dimension of sustainable transitions is too often neglected by political decision makers and global corporations, highlighting the necessity for more attention regarding active participation of citizens to solve societal food related challenges in their regions. Arising from different motivations, Alternative Food Networks (AFN) are becoming increasingly more important to support sustainable food system transitions in diversifying the food system landscape and fixing food issues at the root. This project aimed at identifying AFNs in the Swedish city, Uppsala, and to investigate their role in achieving SFST through social innovation. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to reveal the activities, motivations as well as challenges of Uppsala’s AFNs and how social innovation can be used as an instance to achieve sustainable food goals. Additionally, Sweden’s National Food Strategy and the regional action plan, Ät UPPsala län, developed by the municipality of Uppsala, were both investigated to find out, to what extent, social dimensions are included, highlighting the concept of food democracy, from active participation of citizens, in achieving national and regional food system goals. The results show that AFNs have the potential to solve context-based food issues, even with little accessibility to supporting resources and active engagement of citizens, but still, it is less likely that they can achieve a SFST. Instead, AFNs are diversifying the food system landscape, giving citizens a genuine choice to engage, participate and educate themselves about local food systems.

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