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Growing the social: alternative agro-food networks and social sustainability in the urban ethical foodscape

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


<mark>Journal publication date</mark>21/02/2012
<mark>Journal</mark>Sustainability : Science, Practice, and Policy
Issue number1
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)30-39
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Agrofood practices have been an obvious domain in which to implement sustainability. Yet, despite the fact that food carries a dense set of social meanings and functions, sustainability’s social dimension has been relatively neglected in studies of sustainable food initiatives. In this article, we draw on research carried out for the European project “Facilitating Alternative Agro-food Networks” (FAAN), and describe various ways in which alternative agrofood networks in the city of Manchester manifest aspects of social sustainability and the “moral economy,” including relations of solidarity and justice with proximate and distant others, concern for land and for the global environment, social inclusion of the disadvantaged, and the reskilling of everyday life. However, we also argue for a different way of conceiving social sustainability, which involves not simply adding another “pillar” to the dominating dyad of the economic and the environmental, but subjecting the whole notion of sustainability to a sociomaterial turn—one that questions the ontological separation of economy, environment, and society. We show how this approach involves conceiving the urban “ethical foodscape” as a “moral taskscape” in which people dwell and move, interacting with soil, food, and each other through situated practices involving skill and judgment.