During the last century, we have witnessed unprecedented growth in both global food production and associated environmental, social, and economic problems connected to the increasingly industrialized, globalised and commodified food production. In reaction, the issues of food security, food sovereignty and, more generally, sustainable food production have gained momentum within the academic debate. While sustainable food production is a global challenge, it has an inevitable local dimension. It is at 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. Hence, understanding of the particular food production practices and their impacts at a local level is crucial.
Methodologically, the issue of sustainability of food systems calls for complex, systemic insights, including the biophysical side of the problem; although many local case studies exist, they use mostly qualitative approaches and the studies looking for biophysical data on a local level are very rare. This paper aim at fulfilling this gap by providing analysis of three small-scale organic farms in the Czech Republic from the perspective of social metabolism. Quantitative analysis is employed to create a flow-fund representation of the farms that integrates energy, material and monetary flows with available land and labour funds. Case study data are obtained from participative observation, direct interviews and farm accounts. Although all the three studied farms have explicit sustainability focus, their metabolic profile is not fully unambiguous.
This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Looking for sustainability on local level: Social metabolism of three small-scale organic farms in the Czech Republic“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.