Lifeworlds of Sustainable Food Consumption and Production:
Agrifood Systems in Transition

  1. FS①
  2. FS②
  3. PR
  4. FR①
  5. FR②
  6. FR③
  7. FR④
  8. FR⑤

2018

PL Photo Project Leader

Steven R. McGREEVY

RIHN

Steven R. McGreevy is an environmental sociologist (Kyoto University Ph.D. 2012) and associate professor at RIHN. He has a background in agriculture, rural sustainable development, and environmental education. His research focuses on novel approaches to rural revitalization that utilize local natural resources, sustainable knowledge dynamics, sustainable agrifood and energy transition, and the relinking of patterns of food consumption and production in local communities.

>> Annual Report
>> Project's Page
Sub-Leader
TAMURA NorieRIHN Senior Project Researcher
Researchers at RIHN
RUPPRECHT, Christoph D. D.Senior Researcher
KOBAYASHI MaiResearcher
OTA KazuhikoResearcher
SPIEGELBERG, MaximilianResearcher
MATSUOKA YukoResearch Associate
KOBAYASHI YukoResearch Associate
IWASHIMA FumiResearch Associate
Main Members
TSUCHIYA KazuakiThe University of Tokyo
HARA YujiWakayama University
AKITSU MotokiKyoto University
TACHIKAWA MasashiNagoya University
TANIGUCHI YoshimitsuAkira Prefectural University
NAKAMURA MariNagoya Bunri University
TANAKA KeikoUniversity of Kentucky, USA
SUDO ShigetoNational Agriculture and Food Research Organization
SHIBATA AkiraRitsumeikan University
KISHIMOTO-MO AyakaNational Agriculture and Food Research Organization
INABA AtsushiKogakuin University

Research Background

Agrifood systems in Asia face a myriad of sustainability challenges related to declining environmental health (GHG emissions, resource overuse, pollution, soil fertility), loss of diversity (biological, cultural, knowledge), and deterioration of small-scale farming due to globalizing market forces. At points of consumption, over-reliance on globalized food flows limits consumer agency and decreases food security and sovereignty. Diets increasingly composed of processed foods also negatively impact public health (rise in diabetes, obesity). The ways in which food is provided, consumed and governed need urgent change, but we lack understanding of how agrifood transitions emerge and take root, or of the role of existing and alternative institutions and policy, social practices, future visions, and economic arrangements, in advancing sustainable transitions.

▲PAGE TOP

Research Overview and Objectives

Figure

Figure 1 Diagram detailing how each FEAST working group is organized around the question of “What knowledge is necessary to catalyze sustainable agrifood transition?” Four kinds of knowledge are listed: 1) Current system and contextual knowledge; 2) Visions of sustainable future systems knowledge; 3) Future system scenario knowledge; and 4) Knowledge associated with intervention and transition strategies.

The FEAST project takes a transdisciplinary approach to explicate the reality of, and potential for, sustainable agrifood transition in Asia. Individual field sites are located in Japan, Thailand, Bhutan, and China. Taking a lifeworld perspective, we analyze patterns of food consumption, the socio-cultural significance of food-practices, and the potential of consumer-based agency to change deeply held cultural notions and regional food systems. We also develop structural descriptions of the food system, by mapping national, regional, and local production, distribution, and consumption contexts. In combining socio-cultural and structural descriptions of the relationships between production and consumption, we are able to conduct visioning workshops with stakeholders and initiate food citizenship-oriented experiments and actions.

FEAST’s process of co-design and co-production of sustainable food systems seeks to challenge mainstream economic thinking on consumption and growth. In engaging the public in structured debate of societal relationships with food and nature, our project reorients consumers to consider themselves as citizens and co-producers of the foodscapes on which they depend. FEAST seeks knowledge and mechanisms that can redefine the notion of long-term food security.

FEAST Working Groups will produce four types of knowledge relevant to catalyzing agrifood transitions (Figure 1). These are: 1) contextual knowledge of contemporary national, regional, and local food systems (production, distribution, and consumption); 2) co-produced visions of alternative food consumption and production practices and corresponding municipal-level transition plans identifying research, education, and policy needs; 3) modeling- and scenario-based knowledge supporting deliberation and planning processes; and 4) knowledge of two intervention strategies: the social learning dynamics affecting execution and effectiveness of workshop-based consensus-building for collective food action; and the significance of new methods of market transparency (e.g. eco-labels, food impact smartphone apps) in food system change.

▲PAGE TOP

Progress to Date

Photo 1 Urban agricultural land use change in Kyoto City from 2007 to 2017. A loss of 10% of agricultural productive land (1897 ha to 1696 ha) (Colored grids indicate mapped area, white = persistent, black = lost, yellow = gained).

Photo 1 Urban agricultural land use change in Kyoto City from 2007 to 2017. A loss of 10% of agricultural productive land (1897 ha to 1696 ha) (Colored grids indicate mapped area, white = persistent, black = lost, yellow = gained).

Photo 2 Consumer workshops on visioning food futures, held in Kyoto City (upper left), backcasting group work output (upper right), food system role-playing video game (bottom left), food policy council simulator game (bottom right).

Photo 2 Consumer workshops on visioning food futures, held in Kyoto City (upper left), backcasting group work output (upper right), food system role-playing video game (bottom left), food policy council simulator game (bottom right).

Over the past year, FEAST has made progress on a number of areas of research.

The Ecological Footprint of Japan’s food consumption by sector and COICOP category was analyzed, revealing that importation of animal feed and ingredients processed into ready-to-eat meals sold at convenience store and supermarkets are the most impactful.

Satellite imagery was used to map both formal and informal urban agricultural land use change in Kyoto City. The research found that Kyoto City has lost about 10% of its agricultural productive land (from 1897 ha in 2007 to 1696 ha in 2017) in the last 10 years to housing development (40% post-ag. use) and abandonment (28% post-ag. use), even though it is a shrinking city. (Photo 1)

A comprehensive, multi-method survey of consumer eating habits and orientations to food including a web survey (n=1300) for Kyoto City, Nagano City, and Noshiro City (Akita) was conducted, as well as focus group interviews and photograph records of consumed foods for Kameoka City. Statistical analysis showed a variety of consumer types based on diet diversity and rice acquirement.

Multi-method workshops to envision ideal meals and food systems were held in Kyoto City (visioning, backcasting, and role-playing) and Kameoka City (visioning) with local food-related actors and government officials. Over fifty participants joined altogether. The visions and backcasting results will be included into future scenario modelling next year. (Photo 2)

Focus-group workshops on the future of food-related practices—purchasing, home cooking, and eating out—with “green”, “general”, and “innovative” consumer groups were conducted in Bangkok. Found that each group had very different ideas about desirable futures for each practice and that consensus building is needed to form concrete policy recommendations.

Municipal agricultural policies and policy plans in Akita, Nagano, and Kyoto were surveyed to gauge policy orientation toward agroecological principles and a “food as a commons” perspective. An intensive analysis of 14 plans found a significant disconnect in municipal and national government policy orientation.

FEAST has finalized research partnerships with Noshiro City, Akita, Kameoka City, Kyoto, Royal University of Bhutan, Mahidol University in Bangkok, and the Eco-Environmental Protection Research Institute, part of the Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Photo 3 Kyoto Farmer’s Market and Symposium “Transition to a Sustainable Society with Farmers Markets” held November 23, 2017 at RIHN.

Photo 3 Kyoto Farmer’s Market and Symposium “Transition to a Sustainable Society with Farmers Markets” held November 23, 2017 at RIHN.

Photo 4 FEAST Project Annual Assembly held January 6-7, 2018 at RIHN.

Photo 4 FEAST Project Annual Assembly held January 6-7, 2018 at RIHN.

▲PAGE TOP