The major gap that this dissertation begins to address is the application of food sovereignty principles in urban community food initiatives in Europe; it does so by examining the case of community food initiatives (CFIs) in London that sell fresh produce. Using case studies and a survey of initiatives operating across London, it explores ways that CFIs oriented around civic engagement have emerged in London, both in terms of motivations and organizational structure, and the innovative practices that some CFIs have adopted in the pursuit of specific objectives. The CFIs demonstrate different dynamics – initiation by local-level government to address health inequalities; grassroots initiation in response to perceived market and government failure in terms of food access; and grassroots initiation to address perceived failure of the government in regulation of agricultural production. The case studies suggest that initiatives with a strong focus on localization and environmental sustainability seem to draw people through informal or formal networks pertaining to that interest, while CFIs focused on food access and health promotion seem to be communities of location, where customers are already linked to the site of the initiative. As seen in the case studies, this resulted in patronage of organic CFIs by mostly middle class whites and middle class ethnic minorities interested in sustainable food and unconventional means of distribution, with little participation from people from the immediate neighborhood of the CFIs, which included significant concentrations of immigrants. The study finds that although the ultimate goal of many of the initiatives align with the food sovereignty paradigm, application of the principles outside the context of rural areas or Southern nations has meant the pursuit of some principles sometimes contradicted other principles. In relation to the core idea of citizens having greater control over the food system, such contradictions fit within the paradigm if citizens are involved in deciding the approach to take, but the extent to which democratic process was actualized varied widely among the initiatives in this study
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