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Local Food and Short Food Supply Chains (SFSCs)

Local food systems are defined as “A collaborative effort to build more locally based, self-reliant food economies – one in which sustainable food production, processing, distribution and consumption is integrated to enhance the economic, environmental and social health of a particular place” (Feenstra, 2002, p.100).  Local food systems “aim to adapt local food production and markets to suit the environmental and health priorities of a community” where “local ecology, culture, trusting relationships and access to healthy food thrive” (O’Kane, 2012, p.271).  Although the concept of ‘food miles’ has become popular, its use is deemed by many as an oversimplification that fails to account for the efficiency of the transport system, use of pesticides and fertilisers and carbon footprint of the food producer (Van Passel, 2013, p.13).  This is before the social and economic aspects of sustainability are considered, with consumers associating locally sourced food with freshness, maintenance of the local economy and taste (Van Passel, 2013, p.3).  Short Food Supply Chains (SFSCs) take this notion a step further.


SFSCs describe food supply chains that are ‘short’ in either physical distance (that food has travelled) or social distance (interaction between producer and consumer); the key to SFSCs is the ability to exchange information on the “origin, production method and sustainability of the product” (Galli and Brunori, 2013, p.1).  Examples of SFSCs include box delivery schemes, farm gate sales, famers’ markets, food festivals, direct sales (e.g. via the internet) and community gardening.  Whilst SFSCs are not always by definition ‘local’ they aim to emulate the benefits of local food.  The level at which people are connected to their food also has an impact on food waste.

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