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A Multi-Actor Literature Review on Alternative and Sustainable Food Systems for the Promotion of Cereal Biodiversity

Department of Economics and Management, University of Florence, Via delle Pandette, 32-50127 Florence, Italy
Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture and Forestry, University of Padua Via dell’Università, Legnaro, 16-35020 Padua, Italy
The Organic Research Centre, Elm Farm, Hamstead Marshall, Newbury, RG20 0HR Berkshire, UK
Agri-Food Economics and Social Science, School of Agriculture Policy and Development, University of Reading, Reading RG66AH, UK
Ruralia Institute, University of Helsinki, Kampusranta 9C, 60320 Seinäjoki, Finland
Rural Economy and Development Programme, Teagasc, Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority, Ashtown, D15 KN3K Dublin, Ireland
Rete Semi Rurali, Via di Casignano, Scandicci, 25-50018 Florence, Italy
Réseau Semences Paysannes, 10, Place Clémenceau, 47190 Aiguillon, France
Red Andaluza De Semillas Cultivando Biodiversidad, Parque de San Jerónimo s/n. 41015 Seville, Spain
Institut Technique de l’Agriculture Biologique, 2485 Route des Pécolets, 26800 Etoile-sur-Rhône, France
Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, INRA Centre Bretagne-Normandie, UMR BAGAP, 65 rue de Saint-Brieuc, 35042 Rennes CEDEX, France
Centre for Agricultural and Applied Economic Sciences (DE-AGTC), University of Debrecen, H-4032 Debrecen, Hungary
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agriculture 2018, 8(11), 173;
Received: 28 September 2018 / Revised: 30 October 2018 / Accepted: 31 October 2018 / Published: 2 November 2018
PDF [1922 KB, uploaded 13 November 2018]


Organic and low-input food systems are emerging worldwide in answer to the sustainability crisis of the conventional agri-food sector. “Alternative” systems are based on local, decentralized approaches to production and processing, regarding quality and health, and short supply-chains for products with strong local identities. Diversity is deeply embedded in these food systems, from the agrobiodiversity grown in farmers’ fields, which improves resilience and adaptation, to diverse approaches, contexts and actors in food manufacturing and marketing. Diversity thus becomes a cross-sectoral issue which acknowledges consumers’ demand for healthy products. In the framework of the European project “CERERE, CEreal REnaissance in Rural Europe: embedding diversity in organic and low-input food systems”, the paper aims at reviewing recent research on alternative and sustainable food systems by adopting an innovative and participatory multi-actor approach; this has involved ten practitioners and twenty-two researchers from across Europe and a variety of technical backgrounds in the paper and analysis stages. The participatory approach is the main innovation and distinctive feature of this literature review. Partners selected indeed what they perceived as most relevant in order to facilitate a transition towards more sustainable and diversity based cereal systems and food chains. This includes issues related to alternative food networks, formal and informal institutional settings, grass root initiatives, consumer involvement and, finally, knowledge exchange and sustainability. The review provides an overview of recent research that is relevant to CERERE partners as well as to anyone interested in alternative and sustainable food systems. The main objective of this paper was indeed to present a narrative of studies, which can form the foundation for future applied research to promote alternative methods of cereal production in Europe. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainable agriculture; low-input farming; safe and healthy diet; locally based agriculture; low-input cereal supply-chains sustainable agriculture; low-input farming; safe and healthy diet; locally based agriculture; low-input cereal supply-chains

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Sacchi, G.; Cei, L.; Stefani, G.; Lombardi, G.V.; Rocchi, B.; Belletti, G.; Padel, S.; Sellars, A.; Gagliardi, E.; Nocella, G.; Cardey, S.; Mikkola, M.; Ala-Karvia, U.; Macken-Walsh, À.; McIntyre, B.; Hyland, J.; Henchion, M.; Bocci, R.; Bussi, B.; De Santis, G.; Rodriguez y Hurtado, I.; De Kochko, P.; Riviere, P.; Carrascosa-García, M.; Martínez, I.; Pearce, B.; Lampkin, N.; Vindras, C.; Rey, F.; Chable, V.; Cormery, A.; Vasvari, G. A Multi-Actor Literature Review on Alternative and Sustainable Food Systems for the Promotion of Cereal Biodiversity. Agriculture 2018, 8, 173.

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