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Sustainable Food Consumption Practices: Case Studies and Contexts from Edmonton, Canada
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences.
2017 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The globalized food system poses many systemic challenges that have significant impacts on the environment and human health. In order to tackle these challenges, especially those relating to climate change, it is assumed that consumers need to be accountable for the role they play in these issues, requiring them to alter their harmful consumption habits. In terms of the food system, this means that people need to evolve into ethical consumers and become more invested in what and how much they eat, where it comes from, etc . However, throughout the literature and in policies, there remains a focus on altering what people buy, rather than reducing waste from their overconsumption. Reducing waste and consumption would have a more beneficial impact for the environment, human health, and urban sustainability, yet it remains secondary to the narrative of buying sustainable alternatives. A waste reduction narrative would encourage sustainable behaviours that would also be more accessible to households of various socioeconomic backgrounds, and would provide more tangible results in terms of money saved, reduced greenhouse gases and waste output, and increased sustainability. However, food consumption is the result of many ingrained daily food practices influenced by a multitude of factors that prevent people from consciously considering the consequences of their actions.

Food consumption and waste management as a phenomenon can therefore be interpreted using Social Practice Theory (SPT), which states that all humans act autonomously and according to social norms. This means that practices are recursive and routinized, subject to change, yet somewhat unconscious. All practices lead to consumption in some way, and changing such deeply embedded routines to become more sustainable requires a full understanding of these deeply entrenched practices. Practices can be broken down into three main components that drive how practices are formed and maintained:materials, competences, and meanings. This project uses mini-ethnographic studies to highlight SPT in order to understand the factors (contextual, materials, competences, and meanings) influencing households in Edmonton, Canada as they navigate the current sustainability narrative, and how they approach sustainable food consumption and food waste management.

The results from this study lend some insight into what materials, competences, meanings, and other factors drive people already somewhat aware of sustainable food consumption issues to practice such types of behaviour. These influential elements have been found in many other recently published works, and give further insight into how broad external factors and specific internal factors can drive consumption practices. Prevention and reduction behaviours were already somewhat prevalent in this group. It is important that education programs targeting sustainable food consumption behaviours understand what drives certain food related practices, and how they can target the barriers that prevent certain groups of people from adopting more sustainable habits.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. , p. 78
Series
Examensarbete vid Institutionen för geovetenskaper, ISSN 1650-6553 ; 2017/8
Keywords [en]
consumption, food system, food waste, participant observation, social practice theory, social science, sustainable development
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-324247OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-324247DiVA, id: diva2:1109185
Educational program
Master Programme in Sustainable Development
Presentation
2017-05-29, Geocentrum, Villavägen 16, Uppsala, 13:30 (English)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2017-06-14 Created: 2017-06-13 Last updated: 2017-06-14Bibliographically approved

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