Globally useful conceptions of Alternative Food Networks in the developing south: the case of Johannesburg’s urban food supply system
Abrahams, Caryn N
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Literature on alternative food networks (AFN) has hitherto included multifaceted foci such as short food supply chains (Ilbery and Maye 2005; Renting et al 2003), local food supply systems (Winter 2003; Hinrichs 2000), and local supply chain sourcing (Ilbery and Maye 2006). Other literature has focused on the quality turn in food supply (Weatherell et al 2003; Goodman and DuPuis, 2002) culturally embedded food systems (Hinrichs 2000), direct farm retail (Renting et al 2003; Weatherell et al 2003; Brown 2001), community supported agriculture (Allen et al 2003); ‘good food box’ schemes (Sage 2003), specialty (Ilbery and Maye 2005; Ilbery and Kneafsy 1999) and hybrid food networks that include both alternative and conventional elements (Ilbery and Maye 2006; Ilbery and Maye 2005). AFN have been presented either as a new evolution of agro-food systems emerging as a response to crisis-ridden conventional agribusiness, as a “popular mobilisation against US cultural and corporate food imperialism” (Whatmore et al 2003: 389), or a transitionary move toward some kind of alternative or post-productivist era (Ilbery and Bower 1998). AFN have been characterised by a different phase of trade relations, sourcing practices or era of production and consumption as compared to globalised agrifood processes (Goodman and DuPuis 2002) exhibiting defining characteristics that are succinctly reflected in Ilbery and Maye (2005). These characteristics include food that is “fresh”, “diverse”, “organic”, “slow” and/or “quality” (Ilbery and Maye 2005: 824), and networks or supply systems that are “small-scale”, “short”, “traditional” “local”, environmentally “sustainable” and “embedded” (Ibid.). The common factor is that all these characteristics are oppositional to characteristics of conventional food supply systems that are “processed”, “mass (large-scale) production”, “long food supply chains”, formal retailing – “hypermarkets” and “disembedded” (Ibid.).