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Social and Cultural Capital in Food System: Implications for Health and Sustainability

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Food".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 February 2023) | Viewed by 26379

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
1. Centre d'Etudes et de recherches: Travail, Organisations, Pouvoir (CERTOP-CNRS), Toulouse University Jean-Jaurès, 31058 Toulouse, France
2. Faculty of Social Sciences and Leisure Management, Taylor’s University, 47500 Subang Jaya, Malaysia
Interests: sociology and anthropology of food; food cultures; sociology of obesity and eating disorders; food crisis management; evaluation of public policies on food; health food links; sociology of tourism; tourism; gastronomy
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This issue of the journal Sustainability aims to examine the importance and role of social and cultural capital linked to food in sustainability and the health of both individuals and the planet. In 1798, in his “An Essay on the Principle of Population”, Thomas Malthus theorized that the world’s population grows in geometric progression, while the capacity to produce food evolves according to an arithmetic progression, thus leading to a catastrophic future. He predicted that if care were not taken to reduce population growth, the Earth would become the scene of deadly struggles due to hunger. Maximilien Sorre (1943) developed a theoretical reflection proposing a way to overcome the two competing paradigms that explored the relationship between man and nature in geography: the determinism of Frederich Ratzel “anthropo-geography”, which gave priority to the environment, and the “possibilism” of Paul Vidal de La Blache, for whom human action is almost limitless. Sorre promoted a vision focusing on the interactions between man and his environment, which would later give birth to modern ecological anthropology (Steward 1955). In his “Geopolitics of Hunger”, Josué de Castro (1952) took the question of hunger out of the realm of charity and placed it in the political realm.

The 1992, the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro introduced the notion of ethno-diversity. Conceived to mirror the concept of biodiversity, this deals with the “conduct of societies” and calls for countries to respect, preserve, and maintain the uses and knowledge of indigenous and local communities relevant for the protection of biodiversity. With the signing of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, followed by the Johannesburg (2002) and Nagoya (2010) Summits—in which alerts were issued and commitments made—the issue of sustainable development took shape and more focus was placed on economic, environmental, and social challenges.

How do the theoretical and methodological developments in the sociology and anthropology of food and food studies allow us to explore the roles that social capital and cultural capital play or could play as either facilitators or obstacles in the implementation of more sustainable food systems and food habits?

Articles may be devoted to a particular theme, to the history of the construction and recognition of a certain problem, or to the stakes of these differentiated developments in different linguistic areas and academic traditions. They may take the form of essays exploring certain problems; research reports, provided the theorization is substantial; literature reviews (those that highlight work produced in non-English-speaking areas will be welcome); or comparative analyses.

Prof. Dr. Jean Pierre Poulain
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sustainable food system
  • sociology of food
  • anthropology of food
  • food studies
  • food social space
  • food transition
  • nutrition transition

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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11 pages, 416 KiB  
Article
Little but Sustainable: Wine, Drinking Culture, and Negotiation of Value in Taiwan
by Fong-Ming Yang
Sustainability 2023, 15(8), 7008; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15087008 - 21 Apr 2023
Viewed by 2314
Abstract
This study examines how foreign-imported wine culture has transformed and maintained social sustainability from diverse dimensions in Taiwan. Wine culture has become popular around the world, yet it has various developments in different areas. As a country without a wine tradition and small [...] Read more.
This study examines how foreign-imported wine culture has transformed and maintained social sustainability from diverse dimensions in Taiwan. Wine culture has become popular around the world, yet it has various developments in different areas. As a country without a wine tradition and small wine consumption, the development of wine culture in Taiwan is significant in the study of the globalization of wine. This paper is based on qualitative fieldwork from 2017 to 2021 in Taiwan, including in-depth interviews with several focus groups and individuals, as well as participatory observations. This research has two major results, focusing on wine symbolism and the transformation of social meanings of drinking. Wine symbolism relates to the emphasis of “elegance” and the reframed concepts that connect wine with traditional food systems. The second finding elaborates the transformation of social meanings: wine has become an accessible luxury; wine helps to reduce the pressure of alcohol consumption; wine helps women to recreate a safer drinking social space. Taiwanese wine culture provides good examples to rethink the complexity and dynamics in socio-cultural matters, as well as the sustainability of food culture and the food system. Full article
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23 pages, 1576 KiB  
Article
Much More Than Food: The Malaysian Breakfast, a Socio-Cultural Perspective
by Jean-Pierre Poulain, Elise Mognard, Jacqui Kong, Jan Li Yuen, Laurence Tibère, Cyrille Laporte, Fong-Ming Yang, Anindita Dasgupta, Pradeep Kumar Nair, Neethiahnanthan Ari Ragavan and Ismail Mohd Noor
Sustainability 2023, 15(3), 2815; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15032815 - 03 Feb 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 4666
Abstract
Using secondary analysis of data from the Malaysian Food Barometer (MFB), this article highlights ethnocultural dimensions and social functions of breakfasts in the Malaysian population. MFB uses a 24-h dietary recall that lets the interviewee give the name of the food intake. It [...] Read more.
Using secondary analysis of data from the Malaysian Food Barometer (MFB), this article highlights ethnocultural dimensions and social functions of breakfasts in the Malaysian population. MFB uses a 24-h dietary recall that lets the interviewee give the name of the food intake. It shows that breakfasts from the Asian food register dominate with 50.7% (Malays, 50.4%; Indians, 51.9%; Chinese, 47.6%; non-Malay Bumiputra 50.1%), whereas 26.1% eat a westernised breakfast and 17.6% eat no breakfast. If we add those who just have a beverage, 20% do not eat a “proper” breakfast. The Asian breakfasts are characterised by including cooked dishes. These sometimes require real craftmanship to prepare. Therefore, they are mostly purchased outside and consumed either at home, at the workplace, or outside, in restaurants or food courts, such as “mamaks” or “nasi kandar “. Breakfast dishes can be attached to the food culture of the three main ethnic groups of Malaysia, but the boundaries between breakfast cultural styles are fluid and there is a sort of pooling of the breakfast dishes. This porosity of the boundaries between culinary styles is one of the main characteristics of Malaysian breakfast culture. It is so important that when asked, “What could represent Malaysia the best for submission to UNESCO’s intangible heritage list?”, the sample of a national representative population places two breakfast dishes first (nasi lemak and roti canai). This knowledge of the ethno-cultural dimensions of breakfast will help public health nutritionists and policymakers consider cultural characteristics and avoid the risk of a (non-conscious) neo-colonial attitude in promoting western style breakfasts. However, bearing in mind the influence of the British colonisation, the so-called westernised breakfast could also be considered as part of a cosmopolitanised breakfast culture. Finally, the understanding of breakfast culture will feed the debate around, and the progress towards, sociocultural sustainable healthy diets. Full article
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25 pages, 1416 KiB  
Article
Alternative Food Networks, Social Capital, and Public Policy in Mexico City
by Ayari Genevieve Pasquier Merino, Gerardo Torres Salcido, David Sébastien Monachon and Jessica Geraldine Villatoro Hernández
Sustainability 2022, 14(23), 16278; https://doi.org/10.3390/su142316278 - 06 Dec 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1833
Abstract
Social initiatives that seek to promote socially fairer and environmentally more sustainable food production and distribution schemes have multiplied in the last two decades. Several studies have analysed their impacts and showed high contextual variability, making visible some of their contradictions. This research [...] Read more.
Social initiatives that seek to promote socially fairer and environmentally more sustainable food production and distribution schemes have multiplied in the last two decades. Several studies have analysed their impacts and showed high contextual variability, making visible some of their contradictions. This research is interested in Alternative Food Networks (AFNs) as spaces of political mobilisation that aim to modify the predominant food systems. The analysis focuses on the role played by social capital in the capacities and strategies of AFNs to influence the design of public policies. The research was carried out in Mexico City as part of a wither participatory action research project. It is based on participant observation and discussion groups with representatives of citizen collectives involved in agroecological food distribution. The results show that the forms of social and cultural capital are key factors in understanding the interest and capacities of AFNs to strengthen collective action. The study also identifies the importance of the initiatives’ managers as facilitators of interactions between AFNs and other entities, such as universities and civil society organisations, which can ease the influence of social initiatives in the design of public programmes. Full article
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19 pages, 1263 KiB  
Article
Food Producers in The Peri-Urban Area of Mexico City. A Study on the Linkages between Social Capital and Food Sustainability
by Miriam Bertran-Vilà, Ayari G. Pasquier Merino and Jessica Geraldine Villatoro Hernández
Sustainability 2022, 14(23), 15960; https://doi.org/10.3390/su142315960 - 30 Nov 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2330
Abstract
Small producers in peri-urban areas have been identified as key actors in building more sustainable urban food systems, but they often have limited capacities to develop and consolidate their initiatives. This article describes the conditions of peri-urban farmers in Mexico City who work [...] Read more.
Small producers in peri-urban areas have been identified as key actors in building more sustainable urban food systems, but they often have limited capacities to develop and consolidate their initiatives. This article describes the conditions of peri-urban farmers in Mexico City who work with agroecological schemes, analyzing the role of social and cultural capital in their ability to consolidate their economic-productive projects and establish links with consumers in the city. The research was developed from an anthropological perspective based on field visits and interviews conducted in 60 production units located in the peri-urban area of Mexico City. The article discusses the literature on peri-urban agriculture and the contextual particularities of the case study and then describes a typology constructed based on the analysis of the documented cases, considering the objectives of the initiatives and the different types of social and cultural capital on which their activities and marketing strategies are based are considered. The discussion argues that the social and cultural capital of the production units are key elements in determining the viability of the agroecological transition, reaffirming the importance of social articulation and other sociocultural aspects for the promotion of sustainable food projects. Full article
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10 pages, 248 KiB  
Article
Japanese View of Nature: Discursive Tradition, Its Problems and Implications for Food Studies
by Haruka Ueda
Sustainability 2022, 14(13), 8057; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14138057 - 01 Jul 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2188
Abstract
Revisiting one’s view of nature is essential if one is to construct a sustainable food system. In particular, the Japanese view of nature has been widely recognised as the philosophy of coexistence between humans and nature, with some optimism and over-simplification. In this [...] Read more.
Revisiting one’s view of nature is essential if one is to construct a sustainable food system. In particular, the Japanese view of nature has been widely recognised as the philosophy of coexistence between humans and nature, with some optimism and over-simplification. In this article, a wide range of literature regarding the Japanese view of nature is carefully analysed, and three discursive traditions of such views—ancient thought, Buddhism and neo-Confucianism—are discussed. Although it is true that the harmonious philosophy between humans and nature has always existed in Japan as a cultural device, some major problems—namely, the confusion of history and ideology, the composite of traditional and modern natural views within contemporary eaters and the inevitable conflict between humans (the killers) and nature (the killed)—should be resolved to ultimately activate such an aesthetic natural view in encouraging favourable eating behaviours for sustainable natural food environments. Full article
24 pages, 5930 KiB  
Article
Taneyan Lanjang Shared Home Gardens and Sustainable Rural Livelihoods of Ethnic Madurese in Madura Island, Indonesia
by Setiani Setiani, Eko Setiawan and Wen-Chi Huang
Sustainability 2022, 14(10), 5960; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14105960 - 13 May 2022
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2686
Abstract
The ethnic Madurese are among the top five most populous ethnic groups in Indonesia. Their traditional settlements have a special design called Taneyan Lanjang (TL). TL settlements consist of several elements, which are arranged in a specific pattern that is affected by local [...] Read more.
The ethnic Madurese are among the top five most populous ethnic groups in Indonesia. Their traditional settlements have a special design called Taneyan Lanjang (TL). TL settlements consist of several elements, which are arranged in a specific pattern that is affected by local and Islamic culture. The gardening space of a TL settlement—here referred to as the shared home garden (SHG)—is shared by several family households. The ethnic Madurese apply traditional knowledge to manage their home gardens. This study investigated the features of TLs and SHGs, mostly in relation to cultural matters, the utilization of plants, management based on local knowledge, and their contribution to rural livelihoods. The study area consisted of the four regencies of Madura Island, Indonesia. A total of 200 TL settlements were observed, and 4 key informants and 400 respondents who were engaged in TL were questioned through in-depth interviews. The plant species cultivated in the SHGs were recorded and identified according to the database of The Plant List. In total, 108 plant species within 40 plant families were recorded. Fabaceae had the highest number of species, with 10 species (9.26%), most of which are used as food (65.7%). We identified and characterized the most important services and functions provided by SHGs to rural livelihoods that directly benefit rural communities. Full article
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Review

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20 pages, 1379 KiB  
Review
Integrating Family Farming into School Feeding: A Systematic Review of Challenges and Potential Solutions
by Viviany Moura Chaves, Cecília Rocha, Sávio Marcelino Gomes, Michelle Cristine Medeiros Jacob and João Bosco Araújo da Costa
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 2863; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15042863 - 04 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2636
Abstract
Family farming is strengthening its strategic role in school nutrition, but coordinating between school feeding programs and the agricultural sector has proven to be challenging. The goal of this review was to identify the problems that school feeding programs face in acquiring food [...] Read more.
Family farming is strengthening its strategic role in school nutrition, but coordinating between school feeding programs and the agricultural sector has proven to be challenging. The goal of this review was to identify the problems that school feeding programs face in acquiring food from family farms. We selected studies from Web of Science, Medline/PubMed, and Scopus and evaluated their methodological quality. Out of 338 studies identified, 37 were considered relevant. We used PRISMA to guide the review process, and we chose not to limit the year or design of the study because it was important to include the largest amount of existing evidence on the topic. We summarized the main conclusions in six categories: local food production, marketing, and logistics channels, legislation, financial costs, communication and coordination, and quality of school menus. In general, the most critical problems emerge from the most fragile point, which is family farming, particularly in the production and support of food, and are influenced by the network of actors, markets, and governments involved. The main problems stem from the lack of investment in family farming and inefficient logistics, which can negatively impact the quality of school meals. Viable solutions include strategies that promote investment in agricultural policies and the organization of family farmers. Full article
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22 pages, 639 KiB  
Review
Local Food Systems under Global Influence: The Case of Food, Health and Environment in Five Socio-Ecosystems
by Michael Rapinski, Richard Raymond, Damien Davy, Thora Herrmann, Jean-Philippe Bedell, Abdou Ka, Guillaume Odonne, Laine Chanteloup, Pascal Jean Lopez, Éric Foulquier, Eduardo Ferreira da Silva, Nathalie El Deghel, Gilles Boëtsch, Véronique Coxam, Fabienne Joliet, Anne-Marie Guihard-Costa, Laurence Tibère, Julie-Anne Nazare and Priscilla Duboz
Sustainability 2023, 15(3), 2376; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15032376 - 28 Jan 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 4116
Abstract
Globalization is transforming food systems around the world. With few geographical areas spared from nutritional, dietary and epidemiological transitions, chronic diseases have reached pandemic proportions. A question therefore arises as to the sustainability of local food systems. The overall purpose of this article [...] Read more.
Globalization is transforming food systems around the world. With few geographical areas spared from nutritional, dietary and epidemiological transitions, chronic diseases have reached pandemic proportions. A question therefore arises as to the sustainability of local food systems. The overall purpose of this article is to put in perspective how local food systems respond to globalization through the assessment of five different case studies stemming from an international research network of Human-Environment Observatories (OHM), namely Nunavik (Québec, Canada), Oyapock (French Guiana, France), Estarreja (Portugal), Téssékéré (Senegal) and Littoral-Caraïbes (Guadeloupe, France). Each region retains aspects of its traditional food system, albeit under different patterns of influence modelled by various factors. These include history, cultural practices, remoteness and accessibility to and integration of globalized ultra-processed foods that induce differential health impacts. Furthermore, increases in the threat of environmental contamination can undermine the benefits of locally sourced foods for the profit of ultra-processed foods. These case studies demonstrate that: (i) the influence of globalization on food systems can be properly understood by integrating sociohistorical trajectories, socioeconomic and sociocultural context, ongoing local environmental issues and health determinants; and (ii) long-term and transverse monitoring is essential to understand the sustainability of local food systems vis-à-vis globalization. Full article
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Other

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10 pages, 261 KiB  
Opinion
Social Sustainability, Social Capital, Health, and the Building of Cultural Capital around the Mediterranean Diet
by Francesc-Xavier Medina and Josep M. Sole-Sedeno
Sustainability 2023, 15(5), 4664; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15054664 - 06 Mar 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1646
Abstract
The aim of this paper is to reflect on the importance of taking a broader and more comprehensive (and, above all, social and cultural) approach when problematizing dietary patterns in terms of sustainability. In this regard, the building of cultural capital around a [...] Read more.
The aim of this paper is to reflect on the importance of taking a broader and more comprehensive (and, above all, social and cultural) approach when problematizing dietary patterns in terms of sustainability. In this regard, the building of cultural capital around a medicalized concept such as the Mediterranean diet, in addition to being used to legitimize the actions carried out from the field of health, allows the highlighting of the value of social capital around this denomination. This article also analyzes how certain actions aimed at valuing the building of cultural capital related to the Mediterranean diet, such as the inscription as intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO, or the value recognition of the social capital constructed around them, have been frequently neglected and considered as subordinate to other perspectives considered more central and focused on both health and the environment. Full article
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