Topic: Spatial food justice : a blind topic in the local food networks agenda for transition
Within the French research project FRUGAL (Formes Urbaines et Gouvernance Alimentaire) were studied the evolution of the food governance in 4 large cities (Caen, Rennes, Angers, Poitiers) and their hinterland in Western France.
Inspired by a now classical mix of the MLP (Multi-Level Perspective) framework and the ANT (Actors Network Theory), the analytical framework put in evidence three levels involved in the transition: the global context, the innovation niches and the local food system understood as a place-based socio-technical regime. The evolution of the composition of the networks involved in the local food system and its governance were described and compared, as well as the evolution of the key-topics federating first the innovation niches then the whole local food system (Cormery, 2017 ; Rol, 2017 ; Licary, 2018).
Similarities were observed: the pioneer niches were progressively enriched until reaching the scale of a varied networks representing different categories of private and public actors characterizing a food system. Along this process, the key-topics federating those networks strongly evolved, under the influence of both the global context and the local specificities and histories of actors and places.
On the other hand, differences were put in evidence depending on the cities, concerning the year and rhythm of structuration of those networks, the composition of those networks, as well as the key-topics federating them.
Though this variety, the improvement of the spatial food justice was not identified as a key-topic for the structuration of those place-based food governance, though the evident public issue and ethical dimension of this potentially very federative topic. In two of those cities (Caen and Rennes), maps were elaborated to identify the quantity and variety of the food shops as two indicators of the food access and food quality in each small district of those two metropoles. Strong variabilities were put in evidence: the main result being the lower variety and quality of the food offer in remote and rural districts, the offer being higher when the districts are closer to the city center. Face to this situation, four ideal-types of consumers strategies were put in evidence thanks to qualitative in-deep interviews: “Almost everything near my home”, “As much as possible in my territory of life”, “Forced to leave my daily territory of life”,” I expand my territory of life”. Among them, a significant category of consumers with high ethic food values was identified, looking for fresh, varied, locally produced and/or organic products as a guarantee of food quality. This large category of consumers is partially independent of the income level and of the professional and family situation, and rather based on ethical values and cultural capital (Guillorel-Obregon, 2018 ; Braun, 2018). In the districts were a higher scarcity of the food offer was observed (variety, quality), this category of consumers had to either abandon some of their food preferences, either to undertake increased efforts to fulfill their food expectations: their respective strategies being summarized by the ideal-types above.
The question of food justice and food solidarity is partially present in the recently constituted food governance issues put in evidence in this study, but understood only under the economic and social perspective (income levels, economic inclusion of all the population in local food systems based on quality-values). The spatial inequity is not identified in the local food governance agenda yet. The values of food social equity and food justice are not connected yet to urban planification issues and policies. In a prospective point of view, this issue might be expected as emerging for the coming years in the local food networks and place-based food governance.