Towards Territorially Embedded, Equitable and Resilient Food Systems? Insights from Grassroots Responses to COVID-19 in Italy and the City Region of Rome

Simona Zollet*, Luca Colombo, Paola De Meo, Davide Marino, Steven R. McGreevy, Nora McKeon, Simona Tarra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
59 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have further exposed and exacerbated the structural weaknesses and inequalities embedded in the global industrial agri-food system. While the mainstream narrative continues to emphasise the importance of ensuring the uninterrupted functioning of global supply chains to counter COVID-related disruptions, the pandemic has also highlighted the resilience of small-scale, sustainable family farming and of spatially and socially embedded food systems. Based on a quantitative and qualitative analysis of three surveys, this study examines organic and agroecological farmers’ responses to the first COVID-related lockdown (March–May 2020) in Italy, as well as the responses of grassroots alternative food networks (AFN) in the city region of Rome. The results show how local grassroots action played a significant role in ensuring food access, provisioning, and distribution, often in the face of delayed or insufficient action of mainstream food system actors and institutions. These grassroots responses identify opportunities and barriers for agri-food system transformation away from neoliberal, market-based interventions and towards policies that support food sovereignty and democracy in the context of localised, agroecology-based and more resilient agri-food systems.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2425
Number of pages24
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Volume13
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes

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