On food security and alternative food networks: Understanding and performing food security in the context of urban bias

Dixon, Jane & Richards, Carol (2016) On food security and alternative food networks: Understanding and performing food security in the context of urban bias. Agriculture and Human Values, 33(1), pp. 191-202.

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This paper offers one explanation for the institutional basis of food insecurity in Australia, and argues that while alternative food networks and the food sovereignty movement perform a valuable function in building forms of social solidarity between urban consumers and rural producers, they currently make only a minor contribution to Australia’s food and nutrition security. The paper begins by identifying two key drivers of food security: household incomes (on the demand side) and nutrition-sensitive, ‘fair food’ agriculture (on the supply side). We focus on this second driver and argue that healthy populations require an agricultural sector that delivers dietary diversity via a fair and sustainable food system. In order to understand why nutrition-sensitive, fair food agriculture is not flourishing in Australia we introduce the development economics theory of urban bias. According to this theory, governments support capital intensive rather than labour intensive agriculture in order to deliver cheap food alongside the transfer of public revenues gained from rural agriculture to urban infrastructure, where the majority of the voting public resides. We chart the unfolding of the Urban Bias across the twentieth century and its consolidation through neo-liberal orthodoxy, and argue that agricultural policies do little to sustain, let alone revitalize, rural and regional Australia. We conclude that by observing food system dynamics through a re-spatialized lens, Urban Bias Theory is valuable in highlighting rural–urban socio-economic and political economy tensions, particularly regarding food system sustainability. It also sheds light on the cultural economy tensions for alternative food networks as they move beyond niche markets to simultaneously support urban food security and sustainable rural livelihoods.

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2 citations in Scopus
1 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 85910
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Urban–rural Dynamics, Food Regimes, Australian Alternative Food Network, Australian Food Security
DOI: 10.1007/s10460-015-9630-y
ISSN: 1572-8366
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 Springer
Copyright Statement: The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/[insert DOI]”."
Deposited On: 22 Jul 2015 23:24
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2016 06:26

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