Alternative approaches to food: Community supported agriculture in urban China

Kees Krul, Peter Ho*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)
76 Downloads (Pure)


One of the most remarkable features of China's development path is its large-scale and fast-paced urbanization. As cities already accommodate more than half of China's population, new challenges to urban food systems have emerged concurrently. Concerns over environmental degradation and food safety have provoked growing dissatisfaction with China's food regime. Amidst these concerns, the aim of this paper is to study the role of new and alternative approaches to food, focusing in on the question of how community supported agriculture (CSA) can deal with the food-related issues emerging from China's development. The paper adopts Granovetter's notions of social embeddedness to describe CSA's relational role in consumer-farmer dynamics, as well as the structural role within its broader relational context. Empirical data is drawn from surveys distributed among CSA farms, and interviews with key stakeholders in the Chinese CSA movement. The study finds that the model of CSA demonstrates an innovative approach to deal with food safety issues, address sustainability, and operate in an environment where future food demands are most critical. Although the movement's structural embeddedness is bound by several limitations and contradictions, it is argued that the CSA model offers important insights and adds value into ameliorating China's food systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number844
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Alternative food systems
  • China
  • Community supported agriculture
  • Embeddedness
  • Food safety


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