During the last century, we have witnessed an unprecedented growth in both global food production and associated environmental, social, and economic problems connected to the increasingly industrialized and globalised food production system; projections for the future foresee a continuation of the rising food demand. While sustainable food production is a global challenge, it has an inevitable local dimension; it is the local level where people live and work, where environmental, economic, social, cultural and institutional issues are interlocked and where the food is produced, processed, transported, traded and consumed or wasted. Rising academic attention is devoted, among others, to so-called local food systems; localised food production is supposed to bring benefits such as lower transport dependence resulting in less consumption of fossil fuels, lower CO2 emissions, less waste from packaging, and more closed cycles of matter and energy within the production system. However, material data are still missing to critically assess the real sustainability benefits and trade-offs of food localisation. The framework of social metabolism can provide essential insights to the biophysical dimension of local food systems, and thus help to assess their contribution to deteriorating or improving sustainability. This special session aims to bring together case studies using the social metabolism framework applied on local level (i.e. lower-than-national) to food production (and the following stages of food life-cycle); the sociometabolic reading of a diverse range of local cases will help to carve out promises and pitfalls for sustainable pathways in food production for the future.
This media entry was a contribution to the special session „In search for sustainable local food systems: Sociometabolic perspectives“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.