Inderscience Publishers

Discursive transformations within the food system towards sustainability: climate change and dairy

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Transformation towards more sustainable food systems, including combating climate change, has been a persistent political goal. As dairy is responsible for a large share of greenhouse gas emissions its substitution by plant–based milk products becomes an ecologically grounded but economically and culturally challenging vision. This paper looks into the imaginative transformation of the food system, analysing emerging sustainable solutions to ecological problems as discursive constructs. The paper explored food expert focus groups' discussions about greenhouse gas emission information regarding three animal–based and two plant–based milk products. 'Market discourse' looked for individually perceived benefits and presented rather weak coordination towards sustainability. 'Sustainability discourse' highlighted the systemic change by extensive coordination of heterogeneous mobilised networks. 'Bioregion discourse' focused foremost on justification of regional food production. The results suggest that some support exists for determined 'sustainabilisation'. However, considering the discursive orientations' mutual alignment in policy formulations may best promote sustainability.

Keywords: food systems, sustainable development, discursive transformations, climate change, dairy industry, plant–based milk products, low carbon food systems, market discourse, sustainability discourse, bioregion discourse, greenhouse gases, GHG emissions, heterogeneous networks, mobilised networks, regional food production

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