Local autonomy and sustainable development: Testing import substitution in localizing food systems

Anne C. Bellows, Michael W. Hamm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

60 Scopus citations

Abstract

Community initiatives to create more localized food systems often include the strategy of import substitution, i.e., increasing local food production for local consumption. The purpose of this policy is effectively to supplant some level of imported food into the region. We argue that such action can carry social and environmental risks as well as benefits and we have developed research parameters to measure the impact of such strategies. Harriet Friedmann's seminal work (1991) on the employment of import substitution by transnational corporations provides a framework to identify possible advantages and disadvantages of the same approach locally. We propose local autonomy and sustainable development as positive indicators of a more localized food system. Three units of analysis are proposed to measure changes in local autonomy and sustainable development as a result of import substitution schemes: fair labor trade, equity and democracy, and environmental stewardship. We propose that this flexible framework of analysis increases our ability to describe the shifting and integrated balance between more local and more global food systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-284
Number of pages14
JournalAgriculture and Human Values
Volume18
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Food systems
  • Import substitution
  • Research methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science

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