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A methodology for the sustainability assessment of agri-food systems: an application to the Slow Food Presidia project.

Cristiana Peano, Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Forestali e Alimentari (DISAFA), University of Turin, Italy
Paola Migliorini, University of Gastronomic Sciences, Pollenzo, Italy
Francesco Sottile, Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie e Forestali, University of Palermo, Italy


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New and alternative models for agri-food production and consumption have brought up questions regarding the effects they have on local development processes in terms of the economic exploitation of rural areas as well as environmental, cultural, and social factors. The agri-food system proposed by the Slow Food (SF) Presidia Project, which focuses on farm-to-market systems for local, high-quality, sustainable products, can respond to the new and emerging needs of both rural and urban populaces via several approaches in addition to food production itself. However, evaluating these parameters is challenging. The aim of this study was to develop an indicator-based tool to monitor the sustainability in agri-food systems that considers quality as well as economic, ecological, social, and cultural aspects. We: (i) translated the major SF principles of “good,” “clean,” and “fair” into five major criteria to evaluate sustainability; (ii) designed multiple indicators to monitor progress toward sustainability for each of those criteria; and (iii) applied the monitoring tools to three case studies as a first attempt at end-use validation. Indicators and criteria were weighted either equally or based on their importance to surveyed stakeholders, i.e., consumers, producers, and scientists/experts. The proposed approach performed well as a tool for a broad sustainability evaluation by effectively combining the indicators with the same feedback. With this approach, we demonstrated that the SF Presidia project increases all dimensions of sustainability and in particular socioeconomic and cultural capital by preserving the environmental and quality aspects of the food products.

Key words

agricultural and food systems; indicators; Slow Food; sustainability evaluation

Copyright © 2014 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087