Social Sustainability in the Food System: Examining Innovative Local Government Plans
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. School of Environment and Natural Resources Honors Theses; 2016
Over fourteen percent of households in the United States (US) are food insecure (USDA, 2013). At the same time, small and midsize farmers have been under pressure for the past 40 years from an economic and political system that champions and rewards large-scale commodity production (USDA, 2012). Communities, including local government actors, across the country are acting to build food systems that address these issues. These actions, which are one focus within the broader alternative agrifood movements (AAMs), are largely based upon the ideal of creating a just and sustainable food system (Constance, et. al, 2014). However, the incorporation of social sustainability into local government’s framing and action on food systems has been relatively unexplored. The purpose of this research is to develop an understanding of how leading local governments are utilizing social sustainability within food systems planning. As such, this work expands indicators of social sustainability put forth by McKenzie (2004) to develop a framework to examine local government practice. Utilizing a qualitative content analysis, this framework is applied to four local governments’ planning documents that have been recognized as innovative by experts in the field. Findings show that plans largely concentrate on the equity aspect of social sustainability, through a focus on access to healthy food. Results indicate that regardless of plan type, local governments are falling short in terms of social sustainability in the food system. This research provides a framework for consideration by other local governments interested in integrating social sustainability in the food system planning.
Academic Major: Environment, Economy, Development, and Sustainability
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