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Advancing the study of food discourses through human ecology

Davila Cisneros, Federico

Description

Achieving food and nutrition security is a major sustainable development challenge. Multiple actors make food decisions that influence social, economic, and environmental systems. These decisions are made to meet multiple goals related to food, ranging from production practices to waste management strategies. To comprehensively understand how the outcome of food and nutrition security can be achieved, the conceptualisation of food systems has become common in sustainability oriented research....[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorDavila Cisneros, Federico
dc.date.accessioned2019-04-23T00:34:00Z
dc.date.available2019-04-23T00:34:00Z
dc.identifier.otherb59284997
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/160589
dc.description.abstractAchieving food and nutrition security is a major sustainable development challenge. Multiple actors make food decisions that influence social, economic, and environmental systems. These decisions are made to meet multiple goals related to food, ranging from production practices to waste management strategies. To comprehensively understand how the outcome of food and nutrition security can be achieved, the conceptualisation of food systems has become common in sustainability oriented research. Food systems research seeks to understand how human and environmental drivers influence food and nutrition security outcomes. Quantitative indicators and models exist that can predict how systems might behave under different biophysical circumstances. However, there is a recognised need to create a better understanding of how human behaviour influence food systems. Human ecology offers a systems-based approach for revealing on the role of discourses and their influence on institutional responses to food challenges. In this thesis, I develop human ecology as a methodology to show how two dominant food discourses, food security and food sovereignty, are embedded in food systems literature and smallholder agriculture in Southeast Asia and the Philippines. The ongoing tensions between both discourses in research and policy and growing interest on social science approaches to food systems makes this contribution relevant to both researchers and practitioners. My first contribution is theoretical, made up of two published papers. The first manuscript explores human ecology as an analytical framework to study food systems literature. The second paper applies the same framework to Philippines food policy history to contextualise the current state of their food system. From these papers, I show that the human ecology framework adds value to food systems research by highlighting the influence food discourses have on framing approaches to food activities. My second contribution is empirical, documenting the application of human ecology thinking to two sets of qualitative data. The first data set is a systems workshop held in June 2015 in Los Banos, the Philippines, with policy and research experts from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and the Philippines. These stakeholders are expected to conduct transdisciplinary food systems research in their countries with support from regional research agencies. The second data set is made of up 39 semi-structured interviews with smallholder coconut farmers from Leyte, in the Philippines. The Philippines has over 100 million people, half of whom are based in rural areas and have poor food and nutrition security outcomes. The strong dominance of cash commodity production policies, growing need to adapt to climate change, and the unique biodiversity context of the Philippines makes food systems research essential for sustainable development. I found that market food security discourse dominates policy and research, perpetuating current institutional behaviours and framings of smallholders as passive agents in agricultural systems. I also found that smallholders hold a strong discourse of market solutions to food security, which drives them to pursue cash commodity production to improve their incomes. In parallel, smallholders also hold a discourse focused on diversification strategies, such as agroforestry and farmer-led solutions, as ways out of hunger and poverty. These themes align with ideas within the food sovereignty discourse; however this discourse continues to operate on the periphery and cannot be acted on given the dominance of market food security in guiding food system interventions. I conclude the thesis my highlighting the contributions of my theoretical and empirical findings to knowledge on Philippine studies, sustainable development, food systems research and human ecology.
dc.language.isoen_AU
dc.titleAdvancing the study of food discourses through human ecology
dc.typeThesis (PhD)
local.contributor.supervisorVan Kerkhoff, Lorrae
local.contributor.supervisorcontactu9604897@anu.edu.au
dc.date.issued2019
local.contributor.affiliationFenner School of Environment and Society, ANU College of Science, The Australian National University
local.identifier.doi10.25911/5d51491a992ba
local.identifier.proquestNo
local.thesisANUonly.author9b50e6d4-1002-4d38-b8b2-70c14b7e5ed6
local.thesisANUonly.title000000012294_TC_1
local.thesisANUonly.key57817132-0f84-8fe8-9caa-5d10a7036c7a
local.mintdoimint
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