Grassroots initiatives in food system transformation: The role of food movements in the second ‘Great Transformation’

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Sage, Colin
Kropp, Cordula
Antoni-Komar, Irene
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The challenges faced by the contemporary food system across ecological, human health and ethical fields has given rise to an eclectic variety of local food initiatives that seek to demonstrate practical alternatives to business as usual. Such initiatives have moved beyond earlier efforts, often labelled alternative food networks, and may be regarded as a second-generation social movement capable of helping to restore greater resilience and social justice within a more sustainable food system. This introductory chapter outlines the basis of a possible second ‘Great Transformation’ in agri-food – following Polanyi’s original proposition regarding the triumph of the market economy and the widespread commodification of life. During the second half of the 20th century almost all aspects of food and agriculture were detached from their social, cultural and material contexts and this has led to a host of problematic dietary health and environmental outcomes. The emergence of a more experimental and ethical food economy at local and regional scales entangles diverse actors in heterogeneous and interdependent initiatives working to restore the cultural, ecological and ethical basis of a sustainable food system. The chapter outlines the transformative potential of grassroots initiatives and briefly describes the remaining chapters of the volume.
Agri-food , Sustainability , Food systems
Kropp, C., Antoni-Komar, I., & Sage, C. (2021) 'Grassroots initiatives in food system transformation: The role of food movements in the second ‘Great Transformation’, in 'Kropp, C., Antoni-Komar, I., & Sage, C. (eds)., Food System Transformations: Social Movements, Local Economies, Collaborative Networks, London: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9781003131304
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© 2021 selection and editorial matter, Cordula Kropp, Irene Antoni- Komar and Colin Sage; individual chapters, the contributors. This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in Food System Transformations on 29 Dec 2021, available online: