Sustainability and Food Consumption in Portugal: the Quality Products in Urban and Rural Areas

Sustainability and Food Consumption in Portugal: the Quality Products in Urban and Rural Areas

Urban areas have become incubators for consumers' demands for ‘quality' food. This demand is being met not only by the global market but also by rural areas, which have developing multifunctionality strategies to secure economic and social viability. This proposal offers a comparative perspective by introducing an urban/rural dimension to the limited studies on food consumption and sustainability in Portugal. The aim of this project is to focus specifically on the practice of eating ‘quality' food in one urban metropolitan area (Lisbon), its immediate southern hinterland area (Setúbal Pensinsula) and a rural area (Alentejo) of Portugal. Theoretically, the project is underpinned by convention theory and practice theory. Methodologically, a mix of in-depth interviews, food diaries, auto-photography and secondary data are going to be used. Similar data on the British case (collected by the author over the last three years) is going to be compared to the findings of this study.

Estatuto: 
Proponent entity
Financed: 
No
Keywords: 

Consumption, Food, Urban, Rural

Urban areas have become incubators for consumers' demands for ‘quality' food. This demand is being met not only by the global market but also by rural areas, which have developing multifunctionality strategies to secure economic and social viability. This proposal offers a comparative perspective by introducing an urban/rural dimension to the limited studies on food consumption and sustainability in Portugal. The aim of this project is to focus specifically on the practice of eating ‘quality' food in one urban metropolitan area (Lisbon), its immediate southern hinterland area (Setúbal Pensinsula) and a rural area (Alentejo) of Portugal. Theoretically, the project is underpinned by convention theory and practice theory. Methodologically, a mix of in-depth interviews, food diaries, auto-photography and secondary data are going to be used. Similar data on the British case (collected by the author over the last three years) is going to be compared to the findings of this study.

Objectivos: 
The overall aim of the project is a comparative assessment of attitudes to ‘quality' food and eating practices amongst consumers in urban and rural areas, from which the following objectives are derived:<br /><br />1) To identify the meanings of, attitudes to, and justifications for eating ‘quality' food among urban and rural consumers;<br />2) To describe and analyse eating quality practices in consumers' households;<br />3) To identify stakeholders' meanings of and justifications for promoting such foods;<br />4) To identify and to map local initiatives around quality food that promote processes of food relocalization and proximity between consumers and producers.
State of the art: 
<p>Many of the social, economic and cultural aspects contributing to the consolidation of trends in food consumption observed in other European countries have come to be replicated in Portugal: increasing participation of women in the labour market; the advance of the commodification process in the food chain whereby some of the work effort and time demanded by meal preparation has been assuaged by convenience foods and domestic technologies; rise of eating-out episodes; increase of global supply and concentration of agriculture production and food retailing; increase of obesity levels amongst others. <br /><br />In tandem, one can identify counter trends that have also entered the Portuguese reality. Recent research on environmental attitudes and sustainable food practices (Ferreira de Almeida et al, 2000 and 2004; Costa et al., 2003; Costa and Sottomayor, 2004; Truninger 2005) has identified discerning consumers who purchase &lsquo;quality' food (especially people who live in urban areas, are young or middle aged, have higher education levels and belong to middle and upper classes). There is an expanding corpus of work on the meanings of &lsquo;quality' food for both consumers and producers (Ilbery and Kneafsey, 2000; Weatherell et al, 2003; Tiberio, 2003). This indicates that concerns over health, safety, environment, ethics, aesthetics and provenance are not only becoming increasingly central for consumers' food decisions but also for producers' farming methods, and for processing and retailing strategies. If one understands &lsquo;quality' food as comprising all the food that is governed by environmental, ethical, aesthetics and provenance principles then an array of foods become principal candidates (from animal welfare foods through Fair Trade to organic foods). For pragmatic reasons, this research will focus on two particular quality food schemes: organic food and local/regional foods (such as Protected Designation of Origin, Protected Geographical Indication and Guaranteed Traditional Specialty). The increase in consumers' familiarity with these products, especially in urban spaces, justifies this pragmatic decision. National research indicates that urban areas have become incubators for consumers' demands for &lsquo;quality' food. Drivers such as food scares, the disordered urban landscape, the perceived lack of quality of life in the cities and a desire to move to the countryside, or the emergence of neo-rural attitudes, contribute to accelerating demand for &lsquo;quality' food in urban spaces (Ferreira de Almeida et al, 2004). This demand is being met not only by the global market but also by rural areas that have been forced to diversify their farming practices (e.g. towards agro-tourism, sustainable farming, etc.) to alleviate the impacts of desertification, an ageing population and the decline of traditional farming. Several questions emerge from this research background. Are the meanings of and attitudes to &lsquo;quality' food contrasting in urban and rural areas? Do rural areas have the capacity to supply the urban demand for &lsquo;quality' food in a sustainable way? What impacts do rural social networks have on urban food consumption practices? This project will enhance the capacity of Portuguese research to provide answers to these questions which are high up in the international agro-food and environmental research agendas.</p><p>&nbsp;</p>
Parceria: 
Unintegrated

QuAl/Sustenta

Coordenador 
Start Date: 
15/07/2007
End Date: 
15/09/2010
Duração: 
38 meses
Closed