A small part of the population already performs urban agriculture such as (community) gardening and wild picking. But is there also a less visible group of consumers who considers the self-production of food (a little) part of their daily practice? Who would these consumers be, and what do they produce? These questions where leading for further investigation on the topic of prosumption in food.
The aim of this research was to map out the mundane food-producing city dweller by introducing the topic of prosumption in food. A prosumer is in this case understood as someone who actively self-produces (part of) his or her food. There are five categories of prosumer practices, from growing food inside or around the home to growing in allotments and community gardens, to wild foraging. The research was carried out in the city of Almere, a relatively new town in the Netherlands with about 200,000 residents at the outskirts of the Metropole Region of Amsterdam. In order to study the incidence of prosumption in Almere a research team of Wageningen University and Research executed an online survey using the city-panel (835 respondents) and conducted 13 semi-structured interviews.
While two thirds of the questionnaire respondents engage in some form of prosumption, they are mostly involved in activities that are relatively small-scale and little time-consuming. For interview respondents prosumption activities play a larger role. Nevertheless, both groups are mainly motivated by the joy of gardening and creating own produce. This is in line with the broader prosumption literature, which argues that control, do-it-yourself and the reward of ‘making something’ are important motivations. Sustainability was not mentioned as an important reason for prosuming.
The research team argues that prosumption of food is much more pragmatic and mundane than often sketched in the literature around alternatives to the current food system. In addition, food policies and food studies thus should include the broader group of prosumers when devoting attention to the transition of the current food system.