Alternative approaches to food: Community supported agriculture in urban China
This article (PDF) in the journal Sustainability studies the role of new and alternative approaches to food. The conventional answer to deal with new challenges to the food system is to focus on economies of scale and intensify the use of chemicals of pesticides, and China’s case is no exception. However, with increasing food safety scandals and emerging pressures amidst China’s development, there is growing dissatisfaction with China’s current food regime. The paper focuses on the question of how community supported agriculture can deal with the food-related issues emerging from China’s development. The study finds that the model of community supported agriculture demonstrates an innovative approach to deal with food safety issues, address sustainability, and operate in an environment where future food demands are most critical. Yet, this study finds that community supported agriculture’s recent emergence in China remains mostly reserved to relational embeddedness, i.e., between a homogeneous group farmers and consumers. In turn, structural embeddedness is bound by a number of challenges and contradictions, including conflicting motivations and high operational costs. Although the movement is gaining popularity across various parts of China, more efforts are necessary to establish a more attractive and lasting presence in the urban food system. One of the most important requirements is to make community supported agriculture more accessible and bridge the gap between new and local farmers, as both groups currently operate mostly independently.