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Publication | 2024

Demystifying food systems transformation: a review of the state of the field

The Article provides a comprehensive analysis of the scientific literature on food system transformation, focusing on the evolution of the field, the various conceptualizations of change, and the theoretical frameworks that have been proposed over the past three decades.

The urgency to transform food systems towards sustainability has gained significant attention in academic and policy circles, particularly in relation to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The literature reveals a growing interest in food systems as a unit of analysis and a locus for purposive change. The review identifies a sharp increase in publications on food system transformation since 2015, with a spike from 2019 onward. This reflects a heightened awareness of the need for transformative action within food systems. However, the term "food system transformation" is often used ambiguously, suggesting different types of change ranging from minor adaptations to radical overhauls. The literature also reveals a dominance of authorship from the Global North, with less representation from the Global South, indicating potential biases and inequalities in the field.

The article discusses the evolution of the debate on food system transformation, noting key themes such as the promotion of agroecology, the politicization of food consumption, and the connection between food system change and the SDGs. Recent literature emphasizes the need for systemic and transdisciplinary approaches, participatory processes, and the inclusion of marginalized voices. Governance change emerges as a prominent avenue for transformation, with a focus on participatory platforms that can inform policies or planning.

Finally, the review proposes a preliminary definition of food system transformations, describing them as significant reconfigurations of food system activities, actors, outcomes, and relationships. These transformations are seen as collective and inclusive processes that require the redesigning of food system components through governance platforms at multiple scales. The definition underscores the ethico-political nature of food system transformation

Disclaimer: This summary has been generated by an AI language model and is intended for informational purposes only. For the most precise and detailed information, please refer to the original document.