Accepted paper:

Households' self-sufficiency as an imaginary utopia and everyday strategy: a Polish case-study


Ewa Kopczynska (Jagiellonian University)

Paper short abstract:

The ideal of self-sufficiency is twofold basis for contemporary food patterns: as continued tradition and as inspiring myth. The paper examines self-sufficiency-oriented households' practices in Poland. It points their cultural meaning and economic functions in maintaining households’ food security.

Paper long abstract:

Self-sufficiency used to be the fundamental model of agricultural household. Nowadays economy, with its specialization, division of labour, and intense trade-type exchange challenges and cancels traditional food patterns. Self-sufficiency taken literally as self-provisioning and producing home-made food does not fit into conditions and demands of globalized food system. It does not match modern lifestyle, mobility and gender roles. At the same time the imaginary past nourishes economically developed mass societies with the nostalgic picture of family's and households' integrity and sovereignty. Table full of one's own food is a symbol of the family's integrity. This picture inspires alternative food movements and innovations. It also revalue private and traditional foodways and home-scale food production. This paper examines the contemporary 'self-sufficiency-oriented' households' practices, both habitual (like making preserves, home-made and home-consumed meals culture, strong family/food networks, small garden production) and innovative (foodies culture, urban gardening). Which elements of self-sufficiency utopia can be part of today's food culture? What is the economic, cultural and political function of self-sufficiency nowadays? The paper also points the role of self-sufficiency in maintaining households' food security and nutritional security: in households of low material status, during communism time or during economic and political transition in Poland.

panel Food003
Food utopia and the way out