Food, Globalization and Sustainability
Routledge – 2011 – 282 pages
Food is increasingly traded internationally, thereby transforming the organization of food production and consumption globally and influencing most food-related practices. This transition is generating unfamiliar challenges related to sustainability of food provision, the social impacts of international trade and global food governance. Distance in time and space between food producers and consumers is increasing and new concerns are arising. These include the environmental impact of food production and trade, animal welfare, the health and safety of food and the social and economic impact of international food trade.
This book provides an overview of the principal conceptual frameworks that have been developed for understanding these changes. It shows how conventional regulation of food provision through sovereign national governments is becoming elusive, as the distinctions between domestic and international, and between public and private spheres, disappear. At the same time multi-national companies and supranational institutions put serious limits to governmental interventions. In this context, other social actors including food retailers and NGOs are shown to take up innovative roles in governing food provision, but their contribution to agro-food sustainability is under continuous scrutiny. The authors apply these themes in several detailed case studies, including organic, fair trade, local food and fish. On the basis of these cases, future developments are explored, with a focus on the respective roles of agricultural producers, retailers and consumers.
"Approaching the issue of global food provision from a critical social-science perspective, Oosterveer and Sonnenfeld deal with the dynamics, and major issues, surrounding the operation of the contemporary global agri-food system. Their comprehensive and insightful analysis is conceptually rich and raises questions about the possible contributions that consumers, supermarkets and regulatory bodies can make to the development of a more sustainable system of food production and consumption. The book’s easily accessible style will appeal to a wide readership, including an increasingly critical public, academics, students and policy-makers. It is certain to become the leading text in the field of agri-food studies." - Geoffrey Lawrence PhD FASSA, Professor of Sociology, Food Security Focal Area Co-Leader Global Change Institute, The University of Queensland, Australia
"Oosterveer and Sonnenfeld’s balanced, comprehensive analysis of global food provisioning is a welcome introduction to the major paradox of our time. Just when the public is finally recognizing the crucial role that farming and food play at the nexus of major challenges to climate, health, hunger, and social stability, governments and international agencies are failing to regulate food and environment. This volume is especially strong in linking theoretical approaches with guidance to individuals, governments, and civil society organizations that value equity and sustainability. With nuanced attention to detail, the authors clearly delineate major dilemmas, such as Fair Trade’s challenge of both becoming mainstream and keeping its transformative vision, and the contradictory role of private retailers in the absence of intergovernmental standards in international trade. These are nicely captured in "take home lessons" at the end of each chapter, and in examples of organizations and practices that are making a difference. This volume is recommended both as an introduction to the topic across social science disciplines, and as an up-to-date synthesis of cascading studies and real-world initiatives." - Harriet Friedmann, Professor of Geography, Planning and Sociology Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto
"Food, Globalization and Sustainability is an extraordinarily comprehensive and thoughtful study of contemporary food provisioning dynamics, and the new questions (and strategies) of sustainability and food regulation generated by globalization and climate change. The authors offer a well-grounded reconstruction and critical analysis of the differential interpretations of, trends in, and responses to a globalizing food system facing fundamental environmental limits." - Philip McMichael, Cornell University
"Oosterveer and Sonnenfeld have done a wonderful job drawing together the loose threads of production, consumption, politics and trade as they trace the sustainability and governance challenges facing the world of food from the local to the global. Marked both by conceptual clarity and timely case studies, this is an accessible book with a lot to say about some of the key issues of our times." - Stewart Lockie, Professor of Sociology, The Australian National University, Canberra
"Oosterveer and Sonnenfeld’s balance of theoretical approaches rooted in the social sciences and concrete case studies of the global food system in action provide a compelling foundation for the growing number of courses exploring food as a political, economic, social, and cultural phenomenon. Further, its strong emphasis on sustainability, the possibility of change, and the importance of individual and collective social agency helps to retain the reader’s interest. Oosterveer and Sonnenfeld’s text thus makes a valuable contribution to the literature as an outstanding textbook for undergraduate courses exploring local and global food systems. The next time I teach my food politics course, this text will be required reading." – Noah Zerbe, Agriculture and Human Values
"Food, Globalization and Sustainability is a useful and well-written book that provides a great deal of valuable material on the basics of international food provision … The chapter summaries, information boxes, and suggestions for future reading, alongside the judicious choice of references, make this book an excellent study tool." – Emma Cardwell, Environment and Planning C
List of Figures, Tables and Boxes. List of Acronyms and Abbreviations. Preface 1. Introduction Section 1: Conceptual Background 2. Globalization and Food Production and Consumption 3. Sustainability and Food Production and Consumption 4. Regulating Food in the Global Network Society Section 2: Case Studies 5. Food Provisioning and Climate Change 6. Local Food Provision 7. Fair Trade: Buying and Selling Consumer Trust 8. Sustainable Fish Provision Section 3: Future Perspectives 9. Roles of Producers in Sustainable Food Provision 10. Restructuring Food Supply: Supermarkets and Sustainability 11. Consumer Involvement in Sustainable Food Provision 12. Conclusion. Index
Peter Oosterveer is an Associate Professor in the Environmental Policy Group at Wageningen University, The Netherlands.
David A. Sonnenfeld is a Professor in the Department of Environmental Studies at the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF), Syracuse, USA