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In: Foucault and Animals
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This paper will report on the initial findings of an ongoing British Academy funded research project, the aim of which is to explore the potential of urban scale food governance for addressing the challenge of the de-animalisation of the food system. The research brings together and extends two largely discrete debates within social science research into the governance of transitions to a more sustainable agri-food system. The first debate concerns the ‘animalisation’ of the food system i.e. the over production and consumption of food from animals. This has been identified as a significant impediment to global food system sustainability with the greenhouse gas emissions from livestock production highlighted as a major contributor to climate change. An increasingly diverse set of stakeholders argue that a more sustainable food system will need to place greater emphasis on plant sourced foods, hence ‘de-animalisation’. However, resistance represents a challenge for research and practice. Research into (de)animalisation is emergent with analysis mostly undertaken at global and national scales neglecting other spaces of action including in particular the urban scale. Urban food governance is the second debate that frames the study. It represents another developing area of investigation which recognises that feeding the city is one of the ‘quintessential’ challenges of the 21st century. In response, urban governments across the globe have begun to develop a range of food plans, policies and strategies that help city governments integrate a full spectrum of urban food system issues within a single policy framework. Systematic research attention has yet to be given to how food governance at the urban scale is addressing the challenge of de-animalisation. The study reported here represents an initial attempt to address this gap and is being conducted in the UK and Finland, countries with contrasting approaches to the issue of interest. Findings will be presented from a literature review, document analysis of urban scale food provisioning initiatives and interviews with urban food governance stakeholders in the UK and Finland.

In: Sustainable governance and management of food systems