The Role of Intergenerational Relations in Food Systems: Evidence from India

25th April 2024

Anuprita Shukla


Food systems and their normative goal of achieving food security remain a robust global agenda. However, with the shifts toward a sustainable food system, there is an increasing interest in consolidating evidence on multiple dimensions of the food system. This study is an empirically grounded argument for using intergenerational relations to expand understanding of food systems by looking beyond the usual security outcomes and emphasising social welfare outcomes. Drawing on ethnographic research in an indigenous village in western India, I examine a rural, local food system and the transformations therein because of various socio-economic drivers, including changing livelihood opportunities. Evidence shows growing generational solidarity, with some positive effects for environmental sustainability and for revaluing indigenous culture, including traditional food systems, and generating new local livelihoods. Simultaneously, though, tensions are being created around intergenerational autonomy and cultural expressions. Moreover, the food transition has resulted in a decline in the nutritional content of local diets, which has health implications. This article raises questions whether trends towards sustainability and resilience are necessarily mutually reinforcing for natural resource-dependent indigenous communities and our natural environment.