Making sense of (un)sustainable food: creation of sharable narratives in citizen-participating farming

Sustainability Science所収
Volume (Issue): 2023

There has been broad recognition that current food systems need to go through a process of transformation and transition. In the similar way that other areas have transitioned to be more sustainable, the transition process for food systems has some issues related to justice in terms of achieving more sustainable and inclusive food production, distribution and consumption. Acknowledging the importance of these issues, this article aims to understand how knowledge about desired changes is produced and shared among people engaged in activities to transform food production and consumption. To this end, it analyses the short narratives of urban citizens in Japan engaged in participatory farming, adopting the concepts focusing on the contrasts embedded in the short stories, learning from risk studies. The farmer, volunteer staf members and urban citizens collaborate to grow rice using traditional techniques. Their narratives reveal some contrasts in how they used to engage with food, farms and the local environment, and their engagement now. Furthermore, it was observed that these citizens reconfrm the importance of knowledge learned through actual work on the farm and the diferent roles played by the farmer, volunteers and local participants in creating and passing on knowledge. In such ways, people’s interaction leads to the creation of shared meanings of “appropriateness” in terms of existing and emerging food-related practices. This matter of meaning-making for “appropriateness” is often overlooked in the discussion of the justice in food systems’ transitions.