In this paper we examine the way that knowledge is distributed within economic networks. Adopting a broad evolutionary approach we examine the distribution of economic knowledge within two food chains: the conventional food chain, which relies on intensive inputs into the food production process, and thus tends to distribute knowledge towards input suppliers, and the organic food supply chain, which distributes knowledge back towards the farm as farmers must relocalise their understandings of the production process. We present two stylised accounts of each chain and show that for farmers to move from one to the other they must forget many of the practices so characteristic of the conventional chain in order to (re)learn how to farm in an ecologically benign fashion. In the organic chain, we argue, farmers can once again become “knowing agents”.
Geoforum – Elsevier
Published: May 1, 2000
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