This paper is a literature review that focuses on the development of AlternativeAgri-Food Networks (aafns) and, in particular, on the development of Short FoodSupply Chains (sfscs). In the first part of the article we give a description of the social-cultural and environmental aspects which define aafns. aafns are generallythought of as a "turn" from industrialized and standardized systems to the "domestic" world, where quality is interpreted in terms of food localization, proximity relations,trust, tradition and place, and as a new form of rural development and an instrumentto revitalize rural areas. We verified that mainly two factors mostly influencethe characterization of the alternative food streams: embeddedness and food localization.The concept of embeddedness integrates social, environmental and health issues,while re-localization defines the tendency to build networks based on productionand consumption of local food and the development of a "local culture", basedon the valuation of food origin, community traditions and food habits. The secondpart of the paper is focused on the description of sfscs, as Farmers’ Markets or CommunitySupported Agriculture, which aim at reducing the number of transactionsalong the food supply chain and the distance between the production and consumptionof food products. The development of sfscs may help to provide various benefitssupport of the local economy, the strengthening of relations between consumersand their food traditions, the supply of fresher food products in comparison to conventionalfood networks, the re-valuation of the small-scale farmer’s role in the foodsystems, the use of sustainable production methods and the reduction of co2 emissions.This supposition has been contradicted by several recent pieces of research,and we have pointed out further criticisms of sfscs, such as the costs farmers have tobear when selling directly to the public. The article ends by setting out our considerationsregarding the development of aafns and sfscs and offers some suggestions,for starting points for future research.
Keywords: Alternative food networks, short food supply chains, local food, localization,embeddedness
Jel Code: Q01, Q12, Q13, Q18, Q56, Q57