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date: 26 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Alternative food movements have, from their origins, espoused values of social justice and environmental stewardship in an attempt to challenge existing economic and social norms related to food and farming. Three alternative food movements in North America exemplify the trade-offs between the three pillars of sustainable development: social equity, environment, and economy. Organic food has brought environmental benefits, but has struggled to challenge the status quo and promote the social benefits of the original movement when it goes to scale. Farmers’ markets have brought social and environmental benefits, but only in some cases reduced costs when compared to mainstream market levels. Consequently, good-quality food is often out of reach of low-income groups, as highlighted in a case study of access by underserved people in British Columbia, Canada. Regional food movements are a hybrid approach that balance some of the gains and some of the challenges of these systems. The extraordinary concentration of power in North American food systems stands in contrast to notions of social equity and undermines efforts to effect change in pursuit of sustainable alternative food systems.

Keywords: food systems, sustainability, organic, farmers’markets, regional food

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