CAN WE BUILD A LOCAL FOOD WEB INSTEAD OF A GLOBAL AGRI-CHAIN?
Wayne Roberts looks at all the ways local food webs are already growing, ready to become the Next Big Thing in creative disruption.
Several weeks ago, I went to and wrote about an exciting international conference in Montpelier, France, on sustainable “agrichains” — which is geekspeak for food supply chains that are socially, economically and environmentally responsible.
I now want to propose the idea of going beyond the one-way and linear supply chain thinking of agribusiness, and make the case instead for civic food webs — based on partnerships among local governments, local public and community institutions (universities and co-ops, for example), social movements, citizen groups (such as the marvelous Equiterre of Montreal), community-oriented businesses, neighborhood groups, and engaged individuals and families.
Eaters of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your food chains!!
First, let me outline how I think we got to where we are now.
MORE THAN ONE WAY TO FILL A VACUUM
Nature abhors a vacuum, but global corporations seize upon them.
There was a food infrastructure vacuum in the cities of the 1800s and 1900s. It arose most obviously in Europe as a result of the lack of organic or community-based connections between city food consumers seeking to buy foods from around the world and food producers seeking to sell to them. Technologies, such as refrigerator ships, trains and trucks, were available to move food huge distances. As well, technologies, such a sewers and electrical utilities, were available to make large cities livable and attractive. But in the absence of community-based or government-based mechanisms to sponsor the necessary logistics, what were then called multinational corporations took over this “middleman” infrastructure function of bring food producers and consumers together.
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