211.4 Alternative food networks and environmental citizenship in Czechia

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 10:00 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Jana SPILKOVA , Dpt. of Social Geography and Regional Development, Charles University in Prague, Prague 2, Czech Republic
Retail transformation and changes in shopping styles are an inseparable part of the transition processes in the post-communist countries. Shortly after the revolution, multinational retail companies markedly reshaped consumption landscapes and Czechs quickly adopted “western” modes of shopping behavior  represented in big shopping trips to out-of-city hypermarkets, higher use of cars when shopping, shopping as a leisure activity etc.  

Juxtaposed to the “malling” of the Czech Republic, there is a newer movement away from mass shopping towards smaller and greener forms of shopping. Some consumers rebuild lost social relations while shopping in farmers’ markets or in specialized shops. If this represents a new countertrend spreading in the urban environment of the biggest Czech cities, may this behavior indicate that contemporary Czech consumption patterns are shifting to the more ethical and green lifestyles in developed societies including vegetarianism, organic food consumption, farmer-to-consumer marketing etc.?

FMs are a relatively recent phenomenon in Prague, Czech Republic. Their opening was met with great enthusiasm and consumers flooded to these markets. People shopped at FMs mainly because they believed that food purchased there was fresher and better tasting than food from regular stores. The second most common reason for shopping at FMs was the local provenience of purchased food. The fact that purchased food is Czech made  is also important. Thus, after a “hedonist” phase of alternative food networks emergence, Czech people started to mobilize as environmental citizens and consumers of the “right”, the local, products. Thanks to activities of many environmental movements and activists they learn about social and environmental risks of mass consumption. This paper focuses at evidence of ongoing shift to develop new pro-active approaches to consume in more “greener” and “healthier” style and describes further activities of citizens in the forms of box-scheme shopping, aims to revive community supported agriculture etc.