Civic Engagement in Food System Governance: A comparative perspective of American and British local food movements, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Civic Engagement in Food System Governance

A comparative perspective of American and British local food movements, 1st Edition

By Alan R. Hunt


276 pages | 33 B/W Illus.

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The local food movement is one of the most active of current civil engagement social movements. This work presents primary evidence from over 900 documents, interviews, and participant observations, and provides the first descriptive history of local food movement national policy achievements in the US, from 1976 to 2013, and in the UK, from 1991 to 2013, together with reviews of both the American and British local food movements. It provides a US-UK comparative context, significantly updating earlier comparisons of American, British and European farm and rural policies.

The comparative perspective shows that, over time, more effective strategies for national policy change required social-movement building strategies, such as collaborative policy coalitions, capacity-building for smaller organizations, and policy entrepreneurship for joining together separate rural, farming, food, and health interests. In contrast, narrowly-defined single issue campaigns often undermined long-term policy change, even if short-term wins emerged. By profiling interviews of American and English movement leaders, policymakers, and funders, the book demonstrates that democratic participation in food policy is best supported when funders incentivize groups to work together and overcome their differences.


"This book fills a long-standing gap in academic research on the formation and growth of local food movements. The comparative approach is well-researched, providing evidence-based insights into processes of political and social change. It is a must-read for anyone studying food systems in the US or UK." Becca Jablonski, Special Assistant Professor of Food Systems and Regional Economics, Colorado State University, USA.

"This is an authoritative study of local food movements in Britain and America, drawing on the author's extensive research and policy experience. It is full of insights for policy analysts, food farming and environmental campaigners, and students of politics."Philip Lowe, OBE, Duke of Northumberland Professor of Rural Economy, Newcastle University, UK.

"Hunt’s research benefits from his experience building bridges between groups holding very different views of farm and food policy matters, amplified by personal insights from his family’s agricultural background. The result is policy analysis centered on people."Gary R. Matteson, V.P. Young, Beginning, Small Farmer Programs, The Farm Credit Council, USA.

Table of Contents

1. Local Food Policies as a Lens on American and British Food Movements

2. Local Food in National American Policy, 1976-2012: Increasing Inclusion, Increasing Policy Success

3. Local Food in National English Policy, 1991-2012: Policy Decline with Increased Contention

4. English Case Study: The Co-option of Local Food Policy by Environmental Interest Groups

5. American Case Study: Overcoming Barriers to Policy Change due to Civil Society Coordination Failure

6. Making Space for Collaboration in the Food System: Three Practices for Overcoming Exclusion

7. Toward a Theory of Food Systems Practice

About the Author

Alan R. Hunt is owner and principal of Local Food Strategies LLC, based on his family farm in Hampton, New Jersey, USA. He was previously a Fulbright Scholar at the Centre for Rural Economy, Newcastle University, UK, where he also earned a PhD in Rural Development.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Food, Society and the Environment

This series includes a wide range of inter-disciplinary approaches to food, society and the environment. It includes textbooks, research monographs and titles aimed at professionals, NGOs and policy-makers. Authors or editors of potential new titles should contact Hannah Ferguson, Editor ([email protected]).

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy