Food Security

, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp 1371–1388 | Cite as

Exploring the contribution of alternative food networks to food security. A comparative analysis

  • Pedro Cerrada-SerraEmail author
  • Ana Moragues-Faus
  • Tjitske Anna Zwart
  • Barbora Adlerova
  • Dionisio Ortiz-Miranda
  • Tessa Avermaete
Original Paper


Food (in)security has become a challenge not only for developing economies but also for High Income Countries. In parallel, food scholars have actively investigated the contribution of alternative food networks (AFNs) to the development of more sustainable and just food systems, paying attention to drivers, initiatives and policies supporting the development of alternatives to the dominant industrialised food system and its detrimental environmental and socio-economic impacts. However, few studies have directly addressed the contribution of AFNs to food security in the Global North. This paper aims to establish new linkages between food security debates and critical AFNs literature. For that purpose, we conduct a place-based approach to food security in a comparative analysis of initiatives of three different European contexts: Cardiff city-region (UK), the Flemish Region (Belgium) and the peri-urban area of the city of Valencia (Spain). The results unfold: i) how AFNs weave a more localised socio-economic fabric that creates new relationships between food security outcomes and specific territories, ii) hybridization processes within alternative but also conventional systems and iii) the role of advocacy and collective action at different levels. The analysis allows identification of key elements on which food security debates hinge and provides new insights to ground conceptual discussions on territorial and place-based food security approaches.


Alternative food networks (AFN) Food security Place-based approach Local food systems 



This research is part of the project “Assessment of the impact of global drivers of change on Europe’s food security” (TRANSMANGO), granted by the EU under 7th Framework Programme; theme KBBE.2013.2.5-01; Grant agreement no: 613532. Dr. Ana Moragues-Faus also acknowledges the funding of the European Commission and the Welsh Government that currently supports her Sêr Cymru fellowship. These results reflect only the authors’ view; the funders are not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. and International Society for Plant Pathology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and Social SciencesUniversitat Politècnica de ValènciaValenciaSpain
  2. 2.Cardiff School of Geography and PlanningSustainable Places Institute, Cardiff UniversityWalesUK
  3. 3.SFERE, Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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