Being part of a local food group: meeting more than physical needs?

Master thesis project by Karoline Hansen

Photo by Sarah Chai on

Full title: Local Food Groups: A setting for meeting human needs beyond material provisioning?

Abstract: Transforming the globalized food system is high on the sustainability agenda as research demonstrates its significant contribution to negative environmental, economic, and social impacts. Recent studies claim that moving towards alternative food movements ameliorates the negative impacts as such movements often embody localized practices where political questions of power are raised and addressed. In these alternative movements, there is the opportunity to meet alternative need satisfaction for sustainable development. However, research analyzing local food systems in terms of fulfilling human needs (beyond material provisioning) has thus far largely been overlooked. Thereby, this research aims to fill that gap by unpacking the material and non-material resources enabled at a local food group to systematically study need satisfaction. Through 14 narrative and semi-structured interviews, rich data was collected and analyzed through the lens of Max-Neef’s theory of Fundamental Human Needs and Antonovsky’s Salutogenic orientation. The interviewees’ stories revealed that the local food group becomes a social space where needs such as identity, creation, knowledge, participation, and affection are strongly fulfilled. A salutogenic orientation at such alternative settings open up to values and resources beyond economic prosperity for the wellbeing of the members. This paper contributes to larger ongoing discussions about sustainable development, meeting fundamental needs for human flourishing within planetary boundaries.

Degree program: MSc International Development Studies (Specialisation Knowledge, Technology & Innovation)

University: Wageningen University and Research

Supervisor: Daniel Fischer

Second reader: Marleen Buizer

Collaborator: Karoline Poeggel

Completed in March 2022

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