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BIONÆR-Bionæringsprogram

Diversifying sustainable and organic food systems

Alternative title: FOOdIVERSE: Mangfold for bærekraftighet i lokalt forankrede økologiske matsystemer

Awarded: NOK 2.1 mill.

In FOOdIVERSE, we will examine what characterizes a local food system, and produce knowledge about the factors that can contribute to the development of social, economic and environmental sustainability. Five European universities from Germany, the UK, Italy, Poland and Norway are collaborating on the project. FOOdIVERSE is funded under the ERAnet Cofund Scheme (H2020) SUSFOOD / Core Organic and will end in 2023. FOOdIVERSE uses several different social science methods to study the local food system. In 2021, we started with analyzes of food consumption based on data from a representative survey with over 2000 respondents in each of the five European countries. Here we will map differences and similarities between countries and between different groups of consumers in terms of diet, purchasing patterns and sustainable consumption practices. In each of the five countries, various initiatives and local food networks are now being mapped with a view to involving them in a so-called Living Lab. Here, consumers, producers, retailers and local authorities will come together with the goal of developing new solutions for the distribution and consumption of local and organic food. In connection with the local Living Lab, focus groups will be carried out where we will investigate how consumers in the five countries acquire different food products, and to what extent they make use of local and organic food. The consumer study is supplemented with a market audit to map the supply of local and organic products in the same geographical area. Through surveys and in-depth interviews with producers and other key players in the value chain, the project will analyze opportunities and obstacles to strengthen the production and distribution of local and organic food. The project will also include a study of the political organization of the local food system, which includes analyzes of political measures and regulations both nationally and locally, as well as factors that promote or inhibit the emergence of alternative local food networks. The project is in an initial phase with data collection and analyzes and results from the project will only be published at a later stage.

Food consumption significantly influences resource use and the environmental effects of food production and distribution. The mainstream food supply chains and their governance are characterised by a food regime that creates large quantities of standardised food. A more diverse food system could deliver more choices and could be more sustainable. What is lacking is a systematic and practice-oriented characterisation of diversity in the food system and its impact on resilience, enhancing socio-economic and environmental pillars of sustainability. The FOOdIVERSE project aims to produce practice-oriented knowledge on how diversity in diets, novel food supply chains and food governance contributes to more organic and sustainable food systems. The project provides multi-level perspectives on transforming local food systems across Europe by promoting diversity of consumers, producers and key stakeholders. Methodologically and theoretically this project takes a relational approach on diversity, emphasising different characteristics in various contexts and across different scales. Diversity has diverse meanings, for example in urban Norway or in rural United Kingdom, but also to German consumers, Italian government officials or Polish food producers. We seek to identify the relations in characteristics of diversity that accelerate a transformation toward more sustainable food systems. The project directly promotes organic food systems through involving consumers, producers, food-processors and those governing food systems with a living lab methodology. A user-centred and innovation approach in local contexts of Italy, Germany, Norway, Poland and the United Kingdom assists in comparing whilst instantaneously implementing the results in real-life scenarios. We engage different actors and include a diverse range of viewpoints on organic food systems.

Publications from Cristin

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Funding scheme:

BIONÆR-Bionæringsprogram