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Environmental Values

Cultivating Carrots and Community: Local Organic Food and Sustainable Consumption

Gill Seyfang

Environmental Values 16(2007): 105-123. doi: 10.3197/096327107780160346


This paper examines the social implications of sustainable consumption through an empirical study of a local organic food initiative. It sets out an analytical framework based upon Douglas's Cultural Theory to categorise the range of competing value perspectives on sustainable consumption into 'hierarchical', 'individualistic' and 'egalitarian' worldviews, and considers how these various worldviews might each adopt locally-grown organic food as a sustainable consumption initiative. Tensions between the paradigms are evident when attention is turned to a case study of a local organic food producers' cooperative. Research with both producers and consumers reveals that the values embedded in its practice are both partisan and pluralistic, but are principally 'Egalitarian'. Its interactions with policy regimes and social and economic institutions are examined, to illustrate the value conflicts inherent, and understand the barriers it faces in operation and the institutional factors inhibiting the growth of grassroots 'bottom-up' sustainable food initiatives of this kind. In addition to addressing these barriers, the policy implications of these findings for sustainable consumption policy and practice are discussed.

KEYWORDS: Sustainable consumption, organic food, cultural theory, localism, cooperatives

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

Learning in Sustainable Agriculture: Food Miles and Missing ObjectsAlastair Iles

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles

A Values-Based Framework for Community Food Choices. Nicole Gregory and Robin Gregory

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