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published: 01-06-2011

Food Practices in Transition

Perspectives on food have changed drastically over the past few decades. Right after WW II, the leading notion governing food production policies in Western Europe was: ‘Hunger, never again.' Consequently, the emphasis has long been put on maximum efficiency in producing inexpensive and sufficient amounts of food. Yet over the years, other values have come to play a role as well. Consumers nowadays ask for food that is produced in an ‘animal-friendly' manner; that does not negatively affect nature or the environment; that is safe and of high quality; and that contributes to a fair distribution of wealth among the world population. As a consequence, today's food sector no longer focuses primarily on raising outputs per acre or farm. New production modes and distribution technologies are being introduced that allow for a more sustainable food production on an ever-larger scale. Some of these in turn trigger new social controversies. Another difference with the postwar period is that food production and trade more than before have become global affairs. 

Awareness has risen that our food production and consumption should be organized in more sustainable ways. There is widespread public support for changes towards this end. Yet the question is how this can be achieved, given the complexity and interdependency of food networks and chains.  

This Volume brings together accounts of changes towards more sustainable practices in the food provisioning system that may facilitate the desired transitions in the food sector. Selected authors explore measures and incentives that may positively influence such dynamics. The focus is on all major actors active within the food chain: consumers, retailers and producers, as well as designers of new production technologies. In this way, changes and the potential for change throughout the food chain are mapped: from kitchens to stores, to supermarkets and farms.

The authors contributing to this Volume address developments towards a more sustainable food provisioning in the Netherlands and other European countries, and where relevant consider their consequences for food networks on a global level. Central in many chapters is the role of consumers as agents of change in transitions within the food sector. Other chapters discuss the practical implications of changes in the distribution practices by (large-scale) retail companies, and the changing practices of designing new stables and other production technologies under the influence of (perceived) consumer preferences.

Food Practices in Transition: Changing Food Consumption, Retail and Production in the Age of Reflexive Modernity will be published in the course of 2011. The Volume shows how exciting and instructive it is to investigate the changes in the way we think about and handle food, and how we deal with the controversies therein.