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Sustainability 2016, 8(4), 328; doi:10.3390/su8040328

Overcoming Barriers to Scaling Up Sustainable Alternative Food Systems: A Comparative Case Study of Two Ontario-Based Wholesale Produce Auctions

Department of Geography, University of Guelph, 50 Stone Road East, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Marc A. Rosen
Received: 5 January 2016 / Revised: 15 March 2016 / Accepted: 18 March 2016 / Published: 1 April 2016
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Abstract

Conventional food systems are viewed by the literature as unsustainable in that they provide consumers with convenience while disconnecting them from producers thus leading to environmental and social problems. By contrast, sustainable or “alternative” food systems are viewed as correcting such problems. Wholesale produce auctions, which are well established in the Old Order Mennonite community, are physical sites where large quantities of produce are sold through a competitive bidding process to local buyers. These are seen as a way of better connecting producers and consumers and thus realizing a more sustainable food system. However, this potential has not been tested. Therefore, this paper explores two produce auctions in southwestern Ontario, Canada, using an interview based methodology (N = 48) and demonstrates that despite wholesale produce auctions offering many opportunities to promote the benefits of alternative food systems, produce auctions are limited in that they fail to provide a practical and functional way of distributing food to individual consumers. Overall, this research highlights what appears to be a tension in the alternative food systems literature: producers and consumers may be simultaneously looking for the sustainability benefits associated with “alternative food systems” without wanting to sacrifice any of the convenience found in conventional food systems. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainable and alternative food systems; produce auctions; sustainable agriculture; local food; convenience; conventional farming sustainable and alternative food systems; produce auctions; sustainable agriculture; local food; convenience; conventional farming
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Johnson, R.; Fraser, E.D.G.; Hawkins, R. Overcoming Barriers to Scaling Up Sustainable Alternative Food Systems: A Comparative Case Study of Two Ontario-Based Wholesale Produce Auctions. Sustainability 2016, 8, 328.

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