Food as a Commons – P2P Foundation

In order to provide a sound foundation for the transition towards sustainable food systems, the very nature of food as a pure private good is contested and subsequently reversed in this paper, proposing a re-conceptualisation of food as a common good, a necessary narrative for the redesign of the dominating agro-industrial food system that merely sees food as a tradable commodity. This aspirational transition shall lead us to a more sustainable, fairer and farmer-centred food system. The idea of the commons is applied to food, deconstructing food as a pure private good and reconstructing it as an impure commons that can be better produced and distributed by a hybrid tri-centric governance system compounded by market rules, public regulations and collective actions.

He proposes or revives such ideas as “social charters” and “food trusts” adopted by local communities or associations. Such “decentralized, self-governing systems of food production” would provide fairer access, higher efficiency and greater concern for externalities in food production, than the market would provide. The “re-commonification of food shall take several generations,” predicts Vivero Pol, so he offers a number of transition strategies for the commons, government and market sectors.

It’s refreshing to read such imaginative yet rigorous scholarship about food as a commons and how the concept might be practically advanced. Policymakers, politicians and commoners would all benefit from exploring the concepts that Vivero Pol proposes.”

Source: Food as a Commons – P2P Foundation

The Food Commons » Summary

The Food Commons model will:

  • Make healthy and sustainably produced food accessible and perhaps more affordable to all.
  • Enable food enterprises within and across foodsheds to efficiently produce and exchange goods and services that meet high common standards.
  • Capture benefits of scale in infrastructure, asset management, financing, information systems, marketing, and learning, while preserving local identity, ownership, control, diversification and accountability.
  • Transparently and seek to equitably distribute common benefits along the value chain from farmers, ranchers, and fishers to distributors, processors, retailers, workers, consumers, and communities.
  • Harness underutilized foodshed assets and protect and steward those assets for current and future generations.
  • Foster and celebrate regional foodshed identities that generate widespread consumer awareness, participation and buy-in.
  • Create a wealth of new small businesses and jobs and build a skilled and respected 21st-century food system workforce.
  • The Food Commons has designed a model that will connect local and regional food system enterprises in a cooperative national federation that enhances their profitability and sustainability while creating and supporting a robust system of local community financing, ownership, management and accountability.

The Food Commons model has three integral components:

  1. The Food Commons Trust, a non-profit, quasi-public entity to acquire and steward critical foodshed assets
  2. The Food Commons Financing Arm, a community-owned financial institution that provides capital and financial services to foodshed enterprises
  3. The Food Commons Hub, a locally-owned, cooperatively integrated business enterprise that builds and manages foodshed-based physical infrastructure and facilitates the complex logistics of aggregation and distribution at different scales among all the moving parts of the system, and provides scale economies, business services, technical assistance and training to new small food businesses.

The Food Commons model is a new economic paradigm and whole system approach for regional food.In order to move the Food Commons model from vision to reality the Food Commons nonprofit is pursuing the following near-term objectives to advance development of the Food Commons concept:

  1. Develop the Food Commons Financing, Hub and Trust models.
  2. Identify partners and resources for a Food Commons prototype project, which will be developed through separate entities.

Source: The Food Commons » Summary