Lifeworlds of Sustainable Food Consumption and Production:
Agrifood Systems in Transition (FEAST Project)

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

2016

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.

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Sub-Leader
TAMURA NorieRIHN Senior Project Researcher
Project Researchers at RIHN
KOBAYASHI MaiProject Researcher
RUPPRECHT, Christoph D. D.Project Researcher
OTA KazuhikoProject Researcher
MATSUOKA YukoProject Research Associate
Main Project Members
TSUCHIYA KazuakiThe University of Tokyo
AKITSU MotokiKyoto University
TACHIKAWA MasashiIbaraki University
SUDO ShigetoNational Institute for Agro-Environmental Science
SHIBATA AkiraRitsumeikan University
INABA AtsushiKogakuin University
HARA YujiWakayama University
TANIGUCHI YoshimitsuAkira Prefectural University
NAKAMURA MariNagoya Bunri University
TANAKA KeikoUniversity of Kentucky, USA
KISHIMOTO-MO AyakaNational Institute for Agro-Environmental Science

Background and objectives

Figure 1 Conceptual framework: a lifeworld perspective on socio-cultural and structural change in agrifood systems of provisioning.

Figure 1 Conceptual framework: a lifeworld perspective on socio-cultural and structural change in agrifood systems of provisioning.

Agrifood systems in Asia face a myriad of sustainability challenges related to declining environmental quality (GHG, resource overuse, pollution, soil fertility), loss of diversity (biological, cultural, knowledge), and the deterioration of small-scale farming due to globalizing market forces. On the consumption side, over-reliance on globalized food chains limits consumer agency and decreases food security and sovereignty, while diets composed of heavily processed food create public health impacts (rise in diabetes, obesity). The ways in which food is provided, consumed, and governed need urgent change.

In order to realize these changes, the FEAST project will partner with key stakeholders to envision plausible futures and initiate democracy-oriented food experiments and actions. FEAST will co-design and co-produce knowledge and societal mechanisms that challenge the predominant logic of the market by valorizing the non-economic qualities of food and agriculture that improve quality of life. The project will engage society in a public debate on its relationship with food and nature, a discussion in which shared beliefs are re-examined so that consumers are re-positioned as citizens and co-producers in the foodscapes around them.

The FEAST project takes an action research approach to explore the realities and potential for sustainable agrifood transition at sites in Japan, Thailand, Bhutan, and China, while also exploring their general significance in Asia. We will analyze patterns of food consumption, food-related social practices and their socio-cultural meanings, and the potential of consumer-based agency to change deeply-held cultural notions and institutions. The notion of “lifeworld” (See Figure 1) captures the meaning behind the shared everyday lived experience of food consumption and production, and allows us to more deeply investigate and understand the “inner dimensions” that can catalyze sociocultural change.

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Research organization and team descriptions

Figure 2 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.

Figure 2 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.

  • WG1: Food System Mapping & Modeling
  • WG1 provides contextual information (statistical, spatial, and qualitative) on existing and potential systems of food provisioning and consumption at the local, regional, and national level for each site in Japan and Thailand. GIS mapping, spatial modeling, fieldwork, and statistical analysis will be employed. In order to judge the relative sustainability of said systems, we need to define how we might conceive of a sustainable food system. Toward those ends, we formulated the notion of “holistic local food security” to include the physical capacities to produce and access food in an environmentally-friendly way, as well as the socio-economic factors of overall well-being, food sovereignty, and producer livelihoods.

  • WG2: Ethics & Consumption Practices
  • WG2 leads the action research interventions to create communities of practice and food governance in Japan. Three types of workshops are envisioned: 1) to elicit urgent food related problems and co-design research priorities with selected local food system stakeholders; 2) to envision possible alternative food consumption practices and backcast transition frameworks with selected innovators in the food sector; 3) and food ethics-themed workshops to engage the general public. A stakeholder forum at each site will allow participants to conduct citizen-science activities and engage in self-monitoring of consumption-related behaviors. For the sake of comparison, research on the evolution of food-related social practices in Beijing and Bangkok is also planned.

  • WG3: Agro-ecological Food Provisioning Futures
  • WG3 addresses three problems facing food provisioning: 1) What role will traditional agrifood systems and knowledge play in the future? 2) What are the ways in which new farmers can be supported and encouraged to farm? 3) How can consumers contribute to the sustainable management of sources of wild food? Fieldwork, case studies, and workshops will be employed to bring further clarity to these research questions over the course of the project at designated Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) sites in Japan and China, as well as locations in Bhutan.

  • WG4: Supporting Tools for Sustainable Regions
  • WG4 explores tools— food labeling, corporate-social responsibility, and carbon valuation— for integrating ecologically sound production practices with unique market support structures that can be used to revitalize rural communities in Japan. Indicator analysis and development, local agro-economic modeling, and marketing surveys will be used to create a regional ecological food label and model case site in Kameoka City, Kyoto.

  • WG5: Transparent Food Chains
  • WG5 sets out to develop a smartphone app that tells the backstory of food products using existing and developed LCA data and various sustainability assessment criteria. Ecological, social, and health impacts are the three target factors around which a suite of data sets will be organized for various food categories. Close cooperation with key stakeholders in the food industry will be needed to maximize the impacts of this work and steps are being taken to ensure this is possible.

Photo Upper left: Bhutanese agricultural landscape; Upper right: Child food literacy education (Japan); Lower left: Consumer food cooperative (Holland);
Lower right: Farmers and researcher workshop (China)

Photo Upper left: Bhutanese agricultural landscape; Upper right: Child food literacy education (Japan); Lower left: Consumer food cooperative (Holland); Lower right: Farmers and researcher workshop (China)

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