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Urban Food Strategies. Exploring Definitions and Diffusion of European Cities’ Latest Policy Trend

Metropolitan Ruralities

ISBN: 978-1-78560-797-4, eISBN: 978-1-78560-796-7

Publication date: 25 July 2016


Food, notably its logistics, security, quality, sustainability and social inclusiveness, is increasingly considered as a crucial element in urban settings, deserving specific institutional and strategic instruments. This is testified by the proliferation of urban food strategies, that is municipal strategic documents that various European cities have adopted during the last decade.

This chapter examines the emergence and diffusion of the concept in Europe, contextualizing it in connection with broader thesis on ‘alternative’ food systems, ‘new localism’ and ‘strategic planning’, in order to unpack how the notion has been constructed. The first part of the chapter reviews the existing literature on urban food strategies, by presenting the debate over the definition of the concept and discussing the normative stance of scholars in regard to ‘alternative’ practices.

After providing a working definition of urban food strategies, the second part presents an overview of their diffusion in Europe and briefly maps the historical diffusion of the model since the first appearance in Toronto in 2000.

The fast adoption of urban food strategies in different urban contexts suggests the necessity of further investigations on the motivations behind the cities’ drive towards food governance. In this sense, the chapter argues in favour of a more cautious assessment of food strategies on behalf of scholars, beyond the positive enthusiasm that has been so far connected to them. In particular, the chapter calls for a critique on the political implications of food strategies, which urgently need to be assessed within strategies of city branding, and to be tested on their actual consequences on urban regeneration and development processes.



Cretella, A. (2016), "Urban Food Strategies. Exploring Definitions and Diffusion of European Cities’ Latest Policy Trend", Metropolitan Ruralities (Research in Rural Sociology and Development, Vol. 23), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 303-323.



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