Esperienze di diversificazione qualitativa degli alimenti: la ri-localizzazione dei circuiti produzione-consumo - Quality diversification in food production: initiatives of re-localisation of production-consumption networks In an era characterized by a tendency towards globalisation of food supply chains and standardization of consumption habits, many rural areas are witnessing initiatives based on the re-discovery of local food traditions and productions, and on their promotion towards distant markets. These initiatives mainly regard areas where a local food culture is still present, and some local supply chains have survived even in recent decades. In some other rural areas, on the contrary, standardization of food production and consumption led to a completely export-oriented primary sector and to the disappearance of almost any sort of local supply chains. In some of these areas, mainly in Northern European countries, grass root initiatives of re-localisation of the food supply chains have recently emerged, aiming at promoting the local consumption of locally produced food. This entails strengthening (or re-creating) local food productions, creating local markets and encouraging local consumption of the products . This phenomenon emerged also within the eu funded research "corason - A cognitive approach to rural sustainable development - the dynamics of expert and lay knowledges", in which about 30 case-studies of local food production from twelve countries have been investigated. Five of them represent initiatives of relocalisation: Cahir Farmers’ Market in Ireland, Skye and Lochalsh Horticultural Development Association and Food Link Group in Scotland, Eldrimner project in Sweden, and Netzwerk Vorpommern in Germany. All these initiatives share some basic aims: social sustainability at community level, environmental sustainability, local culture valorisation. Shortening the distance that food travels means sustaining local producers income and, often, delivering better quality food to consumers. At the same time it encourages diversification of agriculture, it supports environmental protection, and it provides opportunities for the revitalization of rural communities. Other evidences arise from a comparative analysis of these experiences. A relevant role of civil society has been noticed. Further, a strong ideological component is sometimes present, with initiatives promoted by actors belonging to, or inspired by, social movements. All the initiatives show a high degree of selfgovernance, with a central role played by pro-active local actors. There is a re-definition of food quality. Emphasis is given to localness, as a key attribute in itself as well as a condition influencing other attributes. An emphasis is also given to the positive relational and social aspects related to the establishment of local networks. These initiatives require specific knowledge dynamics, in particular the rediscovery of a traditional food culture (varieties, cultivation methods, recipes) that had been forgotten among local communities.
JEL Codes: Q13, Q56, R12
Key words: local networks, food quality, food supply chains, traditional knowledge, Northern Europe