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The pandemic has been viewed as a moment for pause to think outside the current mass industrial systems of food supply; as an opportunity to engage with alternative practices of food production, provisioning and consumption. The growing demand for alternative food provision has spawned many initiatives which reimagine how food is commoditised and distributed through supply chains.
The pandemic has given consumers space to consider what food is available locally, ranging from informal self-organised community activities, to offerings from small and medium sized enterprises (Rowan and Galanakis, 2020). The increase in demand for veg boxes and rise in requests to join community supported agriculture schemes are good examples of this trend. This has given credence to alternative food systems, as a turn away from monocultures of retailing uniform food, to a more diverse system that can respond quicker to changes circumstance and provide more resilient (and biodiverse) landscapes of food production (Burnett and Owen, 2020).
Questions to consider here are:
- What have informal, local or small scale actors in alternative systems of food provision learnt from the pandemic? How have they performed new roles and covered new ground?
- What insights can be gained from community self-organisation in food production, provision and consumption activities? How have these initiatives proven themselves as more resilient?
- What can be said about how conventional food systems co-exist alongside alternatives systems given the recent disruption? Are there areas where the balance has been reshaped and what might this mean for longer term goals in greater participation in alternative food systems?