Leveraging Social Change Through Collective Purchasing
In the dedication page of Beyond Alternative Food Networks, Grasseni quotes from Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason: "There can be no doubt that all our knowledge begins with experience." Her selection may serve as an indicator that Grasseni's experience as a member of a solidarity purchase group (a group of people who purchase directly from growers and producers) is the basis for her argument that these community collaboratives can be powerful structures for addressing and improving more than local food issues. A conscientiously systematic and democratic approach that stresses inclusion as opposed to homogeneity, she posits, can be applied more broadly within communities to address economic sustainability.
Grasseni's writing style reflects her strong research background; she takes care to explain that as a member of one such solidarity purchase group, the Gruppo di Acquisto Solidale (GAS) that she is highlighting, she is practicing "engaged anthropology," a theoretical term for participating in a process while observing it. In fact, her involvement as a gasista is critical to her research, making her an expert witness for her case.
Grasseni sets out to explain how the food provisioning models utilized in Italy are not merely food buying clubs or access points, but very promising transformative economic models. She argues that healthy GAS models empower their members to think of themselves as more than a collective of consumers. They develop the potential power to become change agents within their local regions, capable of affecting local supply and demand decisions in ways that prioritize people and the environment above cost....
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