Building resilient cities: what role for local food production and consumption?

Date: 26 October 2015

Venue: UAntwerp, Stadscampus R.014 - Rodestraat 14 - 2000 Antwerp

Time: 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Short description: Lecture


  • Marielle Dubbeling (RUAF Foundation – Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food security)
  • Michael Winter (University of Exeter)
  • Moderator: Erik Mathijs (KU Leuven)

Over the last couple of decades, urban agriculture has been booming and micro-urban farms have burgeoned within and around cities of the world. While in the global South, urban agriculture has for a long time contributed to the food security of poor urban dwellers, in the global North, this development has been associated with the local food movement which has emphasized the environmental impacts of global agro-food systems and has advocated for local food systems as a solution to reduce the problem of food miles.

In this way, there is now a widespread assumption that producing and consuming local can improve, not only ecological sustainability, food security and nutrition, but also food quality and freshness as well as social justice. However, studies in agro-food research have increasingly challenged the idea that the local is inherently better showing that the scale actually does not matter as local-scale systems might result in the same undesirable outcomes than globalized systems of food provision.

Who will benefit from localization? May local food systems in the North hurt the poor in the South? Does producing and buying local mean lowest carbon emissions? What are the real motivations of city dwellers purchasing locally grown food and what are the consequences of their actions? In this debate, we will critically discuss the role of local food systems in building sustainable and resilient urban development in the face of wider popular discourses that position localism as an end goal with inherent economic, social and ecological benefits.