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Agroecology-Based Local Agri-Food Systems
ALAS are assemblages of alternative food networks, assets and infrastructures for local (sustainable) distribution, new and emerging types of institutionality, political measures, and appropriate bottom-up institutional governance, together with the symbolic revival of place-based cultural and historical identities. These assemblages are embedded in specific territories with the aim of maximizing social and ecological sustainability, supported by food and nutritional equality and security, the relocation of metabolic flows, and the improvement of the food system's ecological efficiency. To achieve this, agroecological experiences of production, distribution and consumption must be coordinated among themselves and with other actors, linking rural and urban areas, forming a plural subject led by farmers and peasants committed to agroecology. The aim of this plural subject is to develop operative and place-based ways of de-commodify and de-privatize food systems. Its aim is to achieve economic viability, agency and access to decision-making spheres, the development of physical infrastructures, and symbolic contexts to allow ALAS to emerge as hegemonic food systems as the corporate food regime loses its legitimacy. Such a social subject is tasked with promoting these transitions, while redefining our underlying thought categories and building economic flows, beyond the dualities of urban–rural and productive–reproductive work
2. Territory, Localized Food Systems and Agroecology
The Local (territorial) Food Systems approaches examined focus, however, on monetized economic relations, and therefore overlook some relevant aspects of the socio-economic relationships unfolding outside the market. They do recognize the key role of social and cultural factors in generating symbolic and relational contexts that support the building of LAFS. However, they do not necessarily incorporate major components of the social reproduction dynamics of rural communities and the agri-food production fabric. Among others, the lack of public services in rural areas, difficulties for farm transfer and for new entrants into farming, and especially the oft-forgotten migrant labor force’s hard working and living conditions in the agricultural sector [113–116]. The absence of a gender approach in these analyses also leads to the invisibility of important processes whereby, for example, the social reproduction of rural communities is weakened due to female emigration . Finally, from the perspective of the feminist economy, inconsistencies regarding the social sustainability of food systems—including local ones—are revealed, as mentioned in the previous section, which require the re-conceptualization of the categories of work, production and local development . All these elements should be addressed when building ALAS, along with processes of reconstruction of local economies through community, place-based approaches, and beyond the logics of markets and commodification [118,119].
3. A Plural Social Subject to Push for Multi-Actor, Bottom-Up Governance
The construction of territorial (place-based) relationalities, convergencies, and assemblages, around new, more inclusive narratives such as “food as commons” or “repair agroecologies”, could lead to the development of broader alliances for the transformation of food systems, adapting languages to the characteristics and conditions of the different actors that are being expelled from global markets . Here is yet another field in which to develop empirical work, in order to identify drivers, levers, and transition paths adapted to the different ecologies of food actors engaged in systemic transformations in different territorial settings. The exploration of agroecology as an integrative populist movement, oriented towards liberating and repairing work and land, could be an interesting line of research in this regard .
We understand ALAS as assemblages  of alternative food networks, new and emerging types of institutionality, political measures, and appropriate bottom-up institutional governance, together with the symbolic revival of place-based cultural and historical identities. These assemblages are embedded in specific territories with the aim of maximizing social and ecological sustainability, supported by food and nutritional equality and security, the relocation of metabolic flows, and the improvement of the food system’s ecological efficiency. To achieve this, agroecological experiences of production, distribution and consumption must be coordinated among themselves and with other actors, linking rural and urban areas, forming a plural subject led by farmers and peasants committed to agroecology. The aim of this plural subject is to develop operative and place-based ways of de-commodify and de-privatize food systems. Its aim is to achieve economic viability, agency and access to decision-making spheres, the development of physical infrastructures, and symbolic contexts to allow ALAS to emerge as hegemonic food systems as the corporate food regime loses its legitimacy. Such a social subject is tasked with promoting these transitions, while redefining our underlying thought categories and building economic flows, beyond the dualities of urban–rural and productive–reproductive work.
The entry is from 10.3390/su13158443
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