What’s FEAST?

Lifeworlds of Sustainable Food Consumption and Production:
Agrifood Systems in Transition

Agrifood systems in Asia face a myriad of sustainability challenges related to declining environmental quality (GHG, resource overuse, pollution, soil fertility), loss of diversity (biological, cultural, knowledge), and the deterioration of small-scale farming due to globalizing market forces. On the consumption side, over-reliance on globalized food chains limits consumer agency and decreases food security and sovereignty, while diets composed of heavily processed food create public health impacts (rise in diabetes, obesity). The ways in which food is provided, consumed, and governed need urgent change.

In order to realize these changes, the FEAST project will partner with key stakeholders to envision plausible futures and initiate civic food experiments and actions. FEAST will co-design and co-produce knowledge and socially-robust mechanisms that challenge the predominant logics by valorizing the non-economic qualities of food and agriculture that improve quality of life. The project will engage society in a public debate on its relationship with food and nature, a discussion in which shared beliefs are re-examined so that consumers are re-positioned as citizens and co-producers in the foodscapes around them.

The FEAST project takes an action research approach to explore the realities and potential for sustainable agrifood transition at sites in Japan, Thailand, Bhutan, and China, while also exploring their general significance in Asia. We will analyze patterns of food consumption, food-related social practices and their socio-cultural meanings, and the potential of consumer-based agency to change deeply-held cultural notions and institutions. The notion of “lifeworld” captures the meaning behind the shared everyday lived experience of food consumption and production, and allows us to more deeply investigate and understand the “inner dimensions” that can catalyze socio-cultural change.

Project Leader: Steven McGreevy (Associate Professor, RIHN)