Agriculture-Supported Communities: Experiences in Consumer-Producer Relations in Hungary

Friday, July 18, 2014: 6:30 PM
Room: F202
Oral Presentation
Balint BALAZS , Environmental Social Science Research , Budapest, Hungary
This article presents the case study of a rather underdeveloped and experimental Hungarian CSA sector which gained recognition in recent crisis driven times to show how consumers, small agro-food businesses, non-profit groups and citizens radically enact sustainable food consumption in Hungary. Although their beneficial existence has been widely acknowledged in governance, their economic performance is still quite insignificant, while they also show a substantial awareness raising potential. This study examines the practices of CSAs to understand the economic, environmental and social motivations behind running or joining a CSA operation. Our findings are based on qualitative interviews and data from stakeholder meetings where we facilitated a structured vision to action workshop to identify the main mechanisms and strategies of building alternative food networks. The article presents results on the shaky, non-self-sustaining foundations of CSAs to analyse how they catalyse social change to enhance consumer-producer cooperation and regain control over the ways in which food is produced. The research found that current share prices of CSA farms do not reflect all of the costs of production, and hence might not be an economically viable approach to sustainable agriculture if CSA farms continue their current pricing strategy. This aspect has not received enough attention from scholars and local food advocates who tend to see CSAs as ideal examples of sustainable food systems. The study concludes by pointing at what role they could play in the democratization of the Hungarian food system by providing a model for more profound social transformation.