Alternative food networks

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  • Publicado : 29 de octubre de 2010
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Maye D. and Kirwan J. (2009) “Alternative Food Networks”. Sociology of agriculture and food entry for SOCIOPEDIA. ISA, 31/01/2009, 1-18

• What is the relevance in characterising AFNs that the authors attribute to social embeddedness?

The Alternative Foods Networks –AFNs- are a mechanism that emphasizes relationships and flows of agro-food products between producers and people who careabout ethics in their consumption practices. At present each day consumers are most interested in the quality of their food, as well wanting to know where it comes from and how they were produced.

In this "ethical consumption", the social embeddedness of consumer concern also makes good production practices, with respect for animal, social justice and environmental sustainability. Also shows atendency of returning to rescue aspects of the production based on local know-how, tradition, culture, and linked to it by giving importance to the origin of the product, all this is a reflection of new quality attributes seeking consumers in food products, which also guarantee their safety.

• What are the differences between face-to-face chains and locality-based systems that the authors mention?what are the implications of these different forms of food re-localisation?

The face-to-face chains and locality-based systems are seeking ways to capture a greater share of value-added products. The face-to-face chains seek to develop direct links between producers and final consumers, in order to reduce transaction costs caused by the use of agents and traditional channels of the foodsystem. In this type of relationship is mutual trust relationships, allowing agents to bypass the short chains (eg certification bodies). You can say that this is a form of direct marketing. In this case the buying food in the area are That It Was produced, Particularly if direct from the producer, Improves relations Between Producers and Consumers.

The locality-based systems as the main feature showthat foods reach the end consumer using supply chains, for which mechanism is used as a differentiator that adds value information on mode of production, provenance and distinctive quality assets the product. In this case the locality can be understood as spatially extended systems based on the chains. In this case the use of designations of origin and geographical indications, which arecertified by an agency, can be used to differentiate products on the market.

The implications of the these different forms of food re-localisation can link to the territory and develop relationships between consumers and producers. Allows you to fix products to places of production, which can help generate more endogenous rural development.

Provide important economic and social benefits. Someauthors suggest that the buying of food in the area has occurred, especially directly from the producer, improved relationships between producers and consumers.
It re-establish ties of trust between consumers and producers, which promotes greater integration of society with local communities. In addition to these forms of re-locate the food may become relatively cheaper to provide food, fresh andbetter quality. You can get to provide employment for people involved in the provision and operation of these channels. The fact of marketing products directly to consumers allows producers to obtain a higher price than they could if they used conventional channels.

• The authors say “agri-food scholars are increasingly asking questions about the ‘alternativeness’ of AFNs. Is the concept stillvaluable, or is it in danger of becoming increasingly meaningless? (…) there is a general consensus amongst agri-food scholars that constructing simplistic binaries between ‘alternative’ and ‘conventional’ networks is not useful; rather, AFN scholars now use language that captures a sense of hybridity, complexity and diversity. In this vein, Watts et al. (2005) have distinguished between ‘weaker’...
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