Local food systems and community development: a symbiotic relation? A case study of three rural municipalities in Norway



Published Apr 20, 2024
Hege Westskog


Mette Talseth Solnørdal Mikkel Vindegg


Anders Tønnesen


Thea Sandnes


Bård Sødal Grasbekk Ingrid Christensen



Policy makers and researchers are increasingly emphasising the need for more diversified and localised food systems. This study investigates relations between local food systems and community development, revealing how local food is linked with identity, social relations, and community pride. We also address barriers and enablers for developing such links. We conducted an in-depth case study of local food systems in three Norwegian rural municipalities. Our results show how local food systems are linked to geographical location, and how they strengthen social relations by bringing actors in the food system closer together, fostering mutual responsibilities, pride, and a sense of belonging in local communities. We argue that local food is not only for somewhere, but from here, thus adding meaning and accountability to local food regimes. Local food exchange is motivated by mutual moral obligations and value-driven preferences, enabling reconnection between different actors in the food system. This is a central factor in local food’s contribution to community development and sustainability in food systems. Our findings furthermore demonstrate the importance of non-conventional exchange channels for local food distribution and exchange. Some findings nevertheless also show a need for efforts to make local food more affordable and available for most citizens. Together, the cases studied show that a holistic and context-dependent development of local food systems is necessary to provide pathways for communities to expand the role of local food as part of their community development and in order to enhance sustainability.

How to Cite

Westskog, H., Solnørdal, M. T., Vindegg, M., Tønnesen, A., Sandnes, T., Sødal Grasbekk, B. and Christensen, I. (2024) “Local food systems and community development: a symbiotic relation? A case study of three rural municipalities in Norway”, The International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food. Paris, France, 30(1), pp. 19–42. doi: 10.48416/ijsaf.v30i1.534.
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