Building Sustainable Communities Through Food Hubs
Practitioner and Academic Perspectives
In this paper, we explore the current state of the food hub by discussing innovative practices supporting efforts to build healthy, equitable, and sustainable food systems. We present key insights from a roundtable discussion among scholars and practitioners from Australia, Canada, and the United States held during the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers. Our discussion presents a food hub continuum that describes different pathways to effect change, from enhancing food supply chains to challenging the negative outcomes of the dominant food system through a social and ecological justice approach. This perspective problematizes typical descriptions of food hubs by recognizing the different goals and objectives as well as the resulting opportunities, challenges, and innovations. While we do not suggest one end of the continuum is more important than the other, we identify a series of productive tensions that emerge. Our discussion is structured around four central themes from the collaborative conversation: (1) Descriptions of food hubs; (2) Differing objectives; (3) Navigating success; and, (4) Encountering barriers. We conclude with suggestions on ways to bolster the work of foods hubs through research, policy change, and greater collaboration. This contribution is significant for bridging the overlapping yet diverging conversation between scholarship and practice to better inform food hub development.
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