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Sustainability ; 14(18):11626, 2022.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-2055363


A sustainable food system is a key target of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The current global food system operates on market mechanisms that prioritise profit maximisation. This paper examines how small food businesses grow and develop within grassroot economies that operate on different market mechanisms. Focusing on artisan food producers and farmers’ markets, this research highlights the potential of resilient, small-scale, diverse markets as pathways to sustainable food systems. An applied critical realist, mixed-methods study was conducted at a macro (Irish food industry), meso (farmers’ markets in the region of Munster, Ireland) and micro (artisan food producers and their businesses) level. The resulting framework provides a post-growth perspective to sustainability, proposing that farmers’ markets represent an alternative market structure to the dominant industrial market, organised on mechanisms where producers ‘Mind what they make’ and ‘Make peace with enough’. In their resilience, these markets can provide pathways for structural change. This implies a call to action to reorientate policies targeting small food businesses to move beyond the concept of firms as profit-maximizing enterprises and to instead focus on a local food policy framework that reinforces the regional ‘interstices’ within which small food businesses operate to promote diversity, resilience and sustainability in the food system.