Special Issue "Geographies of Responsibility for Just and Sustainable Food Systems"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Human Geography and Social Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 September 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Agnese Cretella
Guest Editor
Trinity Centre for Environmental Humanities, Trinity College Dublin, College Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
Interests: urban politics; socio-environmental justice; urban food governance; urban political ecology; alternative food movements

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

Within various academic fora, there is still much confusion around roles and responsibilities for creating more just and sustainable food systems. Recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic have further highlighted tensions in these responsibilities, especially in terms of access, production, distribution, and retail. Whilst some (Holt Giménez and Shattuck 2011, De Schutter 2014) have long called for reforming existing power structures for achieving more just and sustainable food systems, many grassroots initiatives have been taking responsibility in their own hands by tackling pressing issues related to food waste, access, sovereignty, and democracy, among others (Goodman, DuPuis et al. 2012, Tornaghi 2017, Davies, Cretella et al. 2019).

At the same time, while food is increasingly at the center of diverse policy discussions from climate change to health and well-being, concrete outputs remain difficult to grasp. Food poverty and insecurity, combined with the environmental hazards caused by the current food system, are far from being resolved. We invite empirical and theoretical contributions exploring any aspect of geographies of responsibility in the food system, which may include (but are not restricted to) the following themes:

  • Power and responsibility in food systems;
  • Disruptions of established forms of power and responsibility in times of crisis;
  • Responsibility and governance across the food system;
  • Disruptive innovations for just, sustainable food systems;
  • Roles and responsibilities of academics, policy-makers, and activists for enacting change in food systems;
  • Cultures of responsibility in food systems;
  • Matters of scale and place in creating just, sustainable food systems;
  • Mechanisms of co-option from and by private sector, policymakers, food movements; and academics.


Davies, A. R., et al. (2019). "Food sharing initiatives and food democracy: Practice and policy in three European cities." Politics and Governance 7(4): 8-20.     

De Schutter, O. (2014). "Democracy and diversity can mend broken food systems - final diagnosis from UN right to food expert." Available online: http://www.srfood.org/en/democracy-and-diversity-can-mend-broken-food-systems-final-diagnosis-from-un-right-to-food-expert.            

Goodman, D., et al. (2012). Alternative Food Networks: Knowledge, Practice, and Politics, Taylor & Francis.            

Holt Giménez, E. and A. Shattuck (2011). "Food crises, food regimes and food movements: rumblings of reform or tides of transformation?" The Journal of peasant studies 38(1): 109-144.        

Tornaghi, C. (2017). "Urban agriculture in the food‐disabling city:(Re) defining urban food justice, reimagining a politics of empowerment." Antipode 49(3): 781-801.     

Dr. Agnese Cretella
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Just and sustainable food systems
  • Urban food governance
  • Food crises
  • Food justice
  • Food democracy
  • Food futures
  • Food policy
  • Food system
  • Socio-environmental justice
  • Alternative food movements
  • Agroecology

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle
Online Grocery Shopping by NYC Public Housing Residents Using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Benefits: A Service Ecosystems Perspective
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4694; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114694 - 09 Jun 2020
This paper examines adoption of online grocery shopping, and potential cost and time savings compared to brick and mortar food retailers, by New York City public housing residents using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. A mixed methods action research project involving the [...] Read more.
This paper examines adoption of online grocery shopping, and potential cost and time savings compared to brick and mortar food retailers, by New York City public housing residents using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. A mixed methods action research project involving the co-creation of an online shopping club, the Farragut Food Club (FFC), recruited 300 members who registered to shop online using SNAP, and received waivers on delivery minimums and provided technical assistance and centralized food delivery. We conducted a survey (n = 206) and focus groups to understand shopping practices; FFC members collected receipts of groceries over two weeks before and after the pilot to measure foods purchased, stores patronized, and prices. We interviewed FFC members to elicit experiences with the pilot, and estimated cost differences between products purchased in brick and mortar stores and equivalent products online, and transportation time and cost differences. Online shopping represented a small (2.4%) percentage of grocery spending. Unit prices for products purchased on Amazon ($0.28) were significantly higher than for equivalent products purchased in brick and mortar stores ($0.23) (p < 0.001.) Compatibility with existing routines, low relative advantage, and cost of online products limited the adoption of online shopping among SNAP users. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geographies of Responsibility for Just and Sustainable Food Systems)
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