Action research as a tool to measure progress in sustainable food cities
Indicators have become ubiquitous tools to measure and facilitate the process towards sustainable development in food systems. The number of exercises to develop these indicators include academic and practitioner-led processes, bottom-up and top-down approaches, and the focus at local, national, and international levels. The usefulness of these exercises is highly contested and requires critical examination. Questions such as who can use these tools and for what purpose become central since these measurements ultimately produce specific narratives of how foodscapes function and develop. To begin to answer these questions, this chapter analyses an example of an Action Research (AR) process to measure progress in UK cities towards more sustainable food futures. After presenting the action research process and associated methodology, I critically reflect on the different co-production and reflective practices at play throughout the process of developing indicators. In the light of current debates around urban food indicators, the chapter concludes by assessing the benefits and limitations of the AR approach to support transitions towards more sustainable and fair urban food systems. Finally, it encourages practitioners and researchers to embed reflexive and co-productive governance principles within their everyday practice.