Beyond Alternative Food Networks

Beyond Alternative Food Networks: Italy’s Solidarity Purchase Groups

by Cristina Grasseni

Cristina Grasseni is a tenured Researcher at Bergamo University (Italy) and Visiting Scholar at the Anthropology Department of Harvard University, USA (2011-14). She was David & Roberta Logie Fellow and Harvard Film Study Center Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (2011/12). Amongst her recent books are: Developing Skill Developing Vision. Practices of Locality at the Food of the Alps (2009) and Skilled Visions. Between Apprenticeship and Standards (2007). Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

Search for publications
Bloomsbury Academic, 2013
  • DOI:
  • ISBN:
    978-0-85785-227-4 (hardback)

    978-0-85785-228-1 (paperback)

    978-0-85785-229-8 (epub)

    978-1-47252-091-3 (epdf)

    978-1-35004-211-7 (online)
  • Edition:
    First Edition
  • Place of Publication:
  • Published Online:
Beyond Alternative Food Networks
Collapse All Sections

Food activism is core to the contemporary study of food - there are numerous foodscapes which exist within the umbrella definition of food activism from farmer's markets, organic food movements to Fair Trade. This highly original book focuses on one key emerging foodscape dominating the Italian alternative food network (AFN) scene: GAS (gruppi di acquisto solidale or solidarity-based purchase groups) and explores the innovative social dynamics underlying these networks and the reasons behind their success.

Based on a detailed 'insider' ethnography, this study interprets the principles behind these movements and key themes such as collective buying, relationships with local producers and consumers, financial management, to the everyday political and practical negotiation involving GAS groups. Vitally, the author demonstrates how GAS processes are key to providing survival strategies for small farms, local food chains and sustainable agriculture as a whole.

Beyond Alternative Food Networks offers a fresh and engaged approach to this area, demonstrating the capacity for individuals to join organised forms of alternative political ecologies and impact upon their local food systems and practices. These social groups help to create new economic circuits that help promote sustainability, both for the environment and labor practices.

Beyond Alternative Food Networks provides original insight and in-depth analysis of the alternative food network now thriving in Italy, and highlights ways such networks become embedded in active citizenship practices, cooperative relationships, and social networks.