2021-07-07Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.1111/soru.12350
Alternative = transformative? Investigating drivers of transformation in alternative food networks in Germany
In the hope for more sustainable agriculture and a stronger connection to their food, an increasing number of consumers participate in alternative food networks (AFNs) characterised by short food supply chains. However, it cannot be assumed that AFNs inherently transform the prevailing system and its respective practices around food. Thus, we apply a social innovation perspective to enable a comprehensive analysis of changed values, social practices and relations in AFNs. This article presents whether drivers of transformation occur in three different AFN models (Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), food co‐operatives (food co‐ops) and self‐harvest gardens) and how participants describe and perceive them in each model. Therefore, we conducted interviews with AFN producers and consumers, before applying qualitative content analysis. Interviewees describe a broad variety of transformed values, practices and relations: Especially CSA and food co‐ops bear transformative potential as their members report a strong reconnection of producers and consumers expressed through social interaction and community‐building. Self‐harvest gardeners predominantly seek individual capacity building and to have access to their own garden. We conclude that AFN participation fosters incremental transformation towards more sustainable practices around food and a respective value system, which can be a part of a bigger movement aimed at food system transformation.