The FOODSCAPES project was instigated by the UNESCO Chair in World Food Systems as a component of its Sustainable Urban Food Systems (Surfood) programme while being implemented by researchers from the MoISA and Innovation joint research units of CIRAD, INRAE and Montpellier SupAgro. The project was designed to analyse the impacts of urban foodscapes (food shops, markets, gardens, etc.) on people’s food styles (consumption, practices and representations).
Changing eating habits to achieve a healthier and more environment-friendly diet for everyone is a major current social challenge. The goal in recent years has thus been to help people make informed choices, while raising their awareness and educating them on better food options that will have a more positive impact on their health and the environment. It is now known that people’s eating behaviours are not solely determined by their knowledge, intentions and sociodemographic background. They are also driven by food consumers’ physical, economic and social environment. This research project focused on the links between people’s eating habits and foodscapes, i.e. the extent of geographical and economic accessibility to all shops, markets, restaurants, gardens and sales outlets that provide food supplies for residents in a given area (neighbourhood, city, etc.).
The project aimed to boost local authorities’ awareness on an available lever to take action on food, i.e. urban planning. Based on the results of this research, these actors would be able to understand and account for the impacts of their land policies (e.g. urban agriculture, development of community gardens) in the development of public spaces and their commercial urban planning strategies (e.g. market and shop installations) on the diets of the people living in their area.
The research was conducted in the Greater Montpellier area, i.e. the city of Montpellier and neighbouring municipalities.
The project involves five research strands, each generally with a main disciplinary approach, sometimes supported by others:
1. Foodscapes from the residents’ viewpoint–studied via a sociological approach
2. Relationships between foodscapes and residents’ spatial supply practices–studied via a geographical approach
3. Community gardens and their impact on different lifestyle sustainability aspects–studied via an interventional research approach
4. Impacts of the development of online food shopping–studied via a sociological approach
5. Mont’Panier survey: relationships between foodscapes and food behaviours, involving collaborations between researchers of the previous research strands and thus via an interdisciplinary approach.