Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

‘Local Food’ Systems in County Durham: The capacities of community initiatives and local food businesses to build a more resilient local food system\ud



This thesis provides a critical assessment of the capacities of ‘local food’ businesses and community-led local food initiatives - in County Durham, North East England - to build resilience into our food systems. Resilient social-ecological systems are able to respond to, and recover from, external impacts. It finds that Durham’s local food scene – including the practices of local food businesses, allotment holders and Durham Local Food Network - encompasses people actively engaged in a range of practices, who have diverse motivations for, and understandings of local food. These emergent and renewed forms of social-ecological response are shown to collectively build resilience into the local food system, making the food system less vulnerable to the challenges of climate change, declining non-renewable resource bases, and economic contraction. An overarching consideration is the extent to which these discourses are important to food localisation agendas and action within the local food scene.\ud \ud Taking a participatory action research approach, the research process built in practical outcomes which aimed to strengthen the local food ‘scene’ in County Durham, employing a variety of methods including questionnaires, in-depth interviews with key actors, and participation as a local food activist.\ud \ud The thesis first demonstrates how local food activities are building resilience. It then examines the multifarious meanings, principles and values that local food instantiates and peoples’ motivations for producing and consuming local food. Following this, is a consideration of the social relations sustaining the local food scene. Finally, it analyses the potential for increasing the capacity of the local food scene and barriers to realising this. \ud \ud \u

Topics: "local food", "resilience", "social-ecological", "climate change", "County Durham", "food system", "peak oil", "connection", "Transition"
Year: 2011
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Durham e-Theses

Suggested articles


  1. (2011a) Durham Rural Community Council, Lanchester, County Durham. Pers Comm. Charles, L. (forthcoming) Community Supported Agriculture in NE England. PhD Thesis.
  2. (2007). (eds.) Participatory action research approaches and methods: connecting people, participation and place, doi
  3. (2004). A case study of local food and its routes to market in the UK. doi
  4. (2002). Agri-Culture: Reconnecting People, Land and Nature. doi
  5. (2005). Alternative (shorter) food supply chains and specialist livestock products in the Scottish-English borders. doi
  6. (2010). An Exploration into the Carbon Footprint of UK Households, RESOLVE Working Paper Series 02-10,
  7. (2000). Anthropology, Development and Modernities: Exploring discourses, counter tendencies and violence. doi
  8. (1999). Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and the Commonwealth (ASA) (unpublished,
  9. (2011). Attitudes and behaviours around sustainable food purchasing.
  10. (2002). Bringing the Food Economy Home: Local Alternatives to Global Agribusiness.
  11. (2005). Buying Local Worth 400 per cent more. 7 th
  12. (2001). Census
  13. (2011). Climate Research Network
  14. (2007). Comparing Domestic versus Imported Apples: A focus on Energy Use. doi
  15. (2010). Connected Communities: How social networks power and sustain the Big Society.
  16. (2008). Cooking up a Storm: Food, greenhouse gas emissions and our changing climate. Food Climate Research Network. [online] [accessed 18/5/2011].
  17. (2008). County Durham‟s 2008-2011 Local Area. Agreement [online] [accessed 4/11/10].
  18. (1993). Determinants of Environmental Action with Regard to Climate Change. Climate Change. doi
  19. (2006). Distribution of Local Food Activity in England and Wales: An Index of Food Relocalisation. Regional Studies. doi
  20. (2006). Ecological Citizenship and Sustainable Consumption: Examining Local Organic Food Networks. doi
  21. (2011). Effects of input management and crop diversity on non-renewable energy use efficiency of cropping systems in the Canadian Prairie. doi
  22. (2003). Engagement (in prep. 2011) Case Study: Developing Durham Local Food Network: the role of a Master‟s student. [online] 140 New Economics Foundation
  23. (1994). Enskilment at Sea. doi
  24. (2008). Environmental Anthropology Engaging Permaculture: Moving Theory and Practice Toward Sustainability. doi
  25. (2008). Environmental impacts of the UK food economy with particular reference to WWF Priority Places and the North-east Atlantic.
  26. (1984). Ethnographic Research; a guide to general conduct. doi
  27. (1997). Ethnography and ethnology‟
  28. (2008). Exports from the region and supplies to the region - an analysis of the North East Economy. North East Regional Information Partnership (NERIP).
  29. (2010). Farmers Being Challenged on their Environmental Performance. Press release.
  30. (2008). Farmers' markets as assemblage: Social relations, social practice and the producer / consumer nexus in the north east of
  31. (2010). Food Ethics Council,
  32. (2001). Food in Society: doi
  33. (2007). Food Values: The Local and the Authentic. doi
  34. (2004). Food Wars: The Global Battle for Mouths, Minds and Markets. doi
  35. (2010). for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs) (2010a) Food 2030: How we get there.
  36. (2000). for the Canadian Institute of Cultural Affairs. The Art of Focussed Conversation: 100 ways to access group wisdom in the workplace. Co-published by: Gabriola Island,
  37. (2004). Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology. doi
  38. (2009). Future Scenarios: how communities can adapt to peak oil and climate change.
  39. (2008). Green Economics: An introduction to Theory, Policy and Practice. doi
  40. (2009). In Search of a Resilient Food System: A Qualitative Study of the Transition Town Totnes Food Group. Dissertation for MPhil in Culture, Environment and Sustainability. Centre for Development and the Environment,
  41. (2010). Incredible Edible Todmorden. doi
  42. (2003). Living on the Edge: Ecological and Cultural Edges as Sources of Diversity for Ecological Resilience. Human Ecology.
  43. (2010). Local and Green, Global and Fair: The ethical foodscape and the politics of care. Environment and Planning A. doi
  44. (2011). Local Food Website
  45. (2009). Local Food; How to make it happen in your community. Transition Books,
  46. (2011). Local Government Regulation, (2011b) Media Relations Team, Local Government Group LGA – `Local Food Con Uncovered by Council Trading Standards. 26 th
  47. (2011). Local Government Regulation. (2011a) Buying food with geographical descriptions - How “local” is “local”? A Local Authority Survey.
  48. (2000). Localisation: A Global Manifesto. doi
  49. (2003). Navigating Social-Ecological Systems: Building Resilience for Complexity and Change. Cambridge: doi
  50. (2008). New Economics Foundation
  51. (2010). Of Models and Meanings: Cultural Resilience in Social-Ecological Systems.
  52. (1993). On Price Risk and the Inverse Farm Size-Productivity Relationship. doi
  53. (1999). Overcoming the 'value-action gap' in environmental policy: Tensions between national policy and local experience', Local Environment, doi
  54. (2002). Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems. doi
  55. (2001). Participation: the new tyranny?
  56. (1995). Participatory Learning For Sustainable Agriculture. World Development. doi
  57. (2007). Peak Everything: Waking up to the Century of Declines. Clairview Books.
  58. (2008). Permaculture: A Beginner‟s Guide.
  59. (2002). Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability. Melliodora: Holmgren Design Services.
  60. (2007). Possible Food Economies: a Methodological Framework for Exploring Food Production-Consumption Relationships. Sociologia Ruralis, doi
  61. (1983). Progressive Contextualisation: Methods for Research in Human Ecology. doi
  62. (2009). Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: food and agriculture. The Lancet. doi
  63. (2000). Reading the Space of the Farmers‟ Market: A case study from the United Kingdom. Sociologia Ruralis. doi
  64. (2008). Reconnecting Consumers, Producers and Food; Exploring Alternatives.
  65. (2006). Research Methods in Anthropology: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. (4 th edition) doi
  66. (1995). Research Methods in Anthropology: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Walnut Creek:
  67. (2010). Resilience Thinking: Integrating Resilience, Adaptability and Transformability. Ecology and Society.
  68. (1998). Seeing Like a State: how certain schemes to improve the human condition have failed. doi
  69. (2010). Shopper Trends
  70. (1991). Social Theory and the de/reconstruction of agricultural science: a new agenda for rural society.
  71. (2010). Some Reflections on „The Big Society‟.
  72. (2011). Sustainable Development Commission
  73. (2010). Sustainable Energy Security. Strategic risks and opportunities for business.
  74. (2001). Sustainable Local Foods. Campaign briefing.
  75. (2007). Technical Summary. In: Climate Change 2007: Mitigation. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change doi
  76. (1995). The Active Interview. doi
  77. (2002). The Anthropology of Food and Eating.
  78. (2009). The Contribution of Farming
  79. (2004). The Earth Care Manual: A Permaculture Handbook for Britain and other Temperate Climates. Permanent Publications: East Meon,
  80. (2009). The Food and Farming Transition: Toward a Post Carbon Food System. Post Carbon Institute.
  81. (2009). The New Economics of Sustainable Consumption: Seeds of Change. doi
  82. (2000). The Perception of the Environment: Essays in Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. doi
  83. (2007). The politics of local food: agenda setting, organisational strategies and the emergence of a dominant discourse on short food chains. Ph.D Thesis.
  84. (2002). The social management of rural nature: understanding agrarian-based rural development. Environment and Planning A doi
  85. (2008). Transition Handbook.
  86. (2008). Unpacking „participation‟ models, meanings and practices, doi
  87. (2010). Webpage. What is a Transition Initiative? [online] [accessed 26/5/11].
  88. (2009). Why We Disagree About Climate Change: Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity. Cambridge: doi
  89. (2006). Working Together to Add Value: A Strategy for Regionally Produced Food and Drink in NE England.
  90. (1986). Writing Culture: the Poetics and Politics of Ethnography. doi

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.