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Related Papers

Food Webs and Food Sovereignty: Research Agenda for Sustainability

by Charles Francis,a * Michelle Miller,b Molly Anderson,c Nancy Creamer,d Michelle Wander,e Jacob Park,f Thomas Green,g and Brent McCown h

http://dx.doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2013.034.010, pp. 95–101

Published online August 20, 2013



Future food production will be constrained by the scarcity of fossil fuel and fresh water as well as increasing intensity and unpredictability of weather events and climate changes. The assurance of food security and equity for many consumers is complicated by concentration of ownership of land and other production resources, as well as a global corporate food systems model that is driven by profit at the expense of people and the environment. To assess potential alternatives to the contemporary global food chain, well focused research is needed on local food production and food webs where small- and midscale family farms provide economic viability for rural communities and their regions. We suggest multiple and integrative research priorities in production, enterprise, and farm economics, environmental impacts of farming at different scales, and social and community consequences of value adding and economic multipliers in local food webs and systems as well as the structure of agriculture. Research into key questions on food security and how it relates to increased food sovereignty is clearly needed to assess creative food system alternatives for the future.


Keywordsfood economics, food environmental impacts, food production, food systems, food systems research, rural communities


a * Corresponding author: Charles Francis, Professor, Department of Agronomy & Horticulture, University of Nebraska–Lincoln; Lincoln, Nebraska 68583-0915 USA; +1-402-472-1581; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; and

Visiting Professor of Agroecology, Institute of Plant and Environmental Sciences (IPM), P.O. Box 5003, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB), N-1432; Aas, Norway; +47 6496 6137; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

b Michelle Miller, Associate Director, Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, University of Wisconsin, 1535 Observatory Drive, Madison, Wisconsin 53706 USA

c Molly Anderson, Chair in Food & Sustainable Agricultural Systems, College of the Atlantic, 105 Eden Street, Bar Harbor, Maine 04609 USA

d Nancy Creamer, Professor, Director of Center for Environmental Farming Systems, Campus Box 7609, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695 USA

e Michelle Wander, Professor/Director of the Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture Program, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, N-225 Turner Hall, MC-047, 1102 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, Illinois 61801 USA

f Jacob Park, Green Mountain College, One Brennan Circle, Poultney, Vermont 05764 USA

g Thomas A. Green, President, IPM Institute of North America, Inc., 4510 Regent Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53705 USA

h Brent H. McCown, Professor Emeritus, Department of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706 USA


Banner photos include a Cape Cod cranberry bog; a cranberry “screen house” used to grade fresh cranberries; farmland near Lake Placid, NY, in the Adirondack Mountains; Montmorency cherry trees on the Mission Peninsula of northern Michigan; the historic Round Barn in the South Mountain Apple Belt of Adams County, Pennsylvania; the “Sea of Grapes” district of the Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt, near Erie, Penn; a field of cabbages near Shortsville, NY, home to one of the world’s largest sauerkraut factories. All photos copyright by Duncan Hilchey.


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