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  • Cited by 5
  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: April 2013

4 - Food systems


This chapter focuses on food systems using an innovative dual approach. First of all, by considering them in interaction with energy and chemical systems within ecosystems, it poses the question of resource allocation (land and biomass). Second, a socioeconomic approach then highlights the diversity of these food systems. Different types of systems co-exist and reflect different ways of producing, processing, distributing and consuming food products. The ‘global’ food system is a constantly changing combination of these different types of systems, all of which influence each other.

Thanks to this dual approach to food systems, new research questions have emerged. New analytical frameworks would enable a clearer understanding of the interconnections between food systems within ecosystems, on the one hand, and their diversity and constant recombination on the other.


Referring to the pioneering work of Malassis (1996), Rastoin et al. (2010) defined a food system (FS) as

an interdependent network of stakeholders (companies, financial institutions, public and private organisations) localised in a given geographical area (region, state, multinational region), participating directly or indirectly in the creation of a flow of goods and services geared towards satisfying the food needs of one or more groups of consumers, both locally and outside the area considered.

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