Sustainable solutions are not always win-win. The hardest sustainability challenges are social dilemmas in which the best outcome for individuals (e.g. more comfortable lifestyle) conflicts with the best outcome for the group (e.g. avoiding overuse of environmental resources and natural disasters). But social dilemmas can be solved when individuals cooperate.
We study the role of cooperation in Maine’s growing local food system. We use cooperation science, experiments, simulations, and stakeholder guidance to determine which factors inhibit or encourage cooperation. And, we work with local food groups to help them better achieve their goals.
In this talk we introduce our collaborative research on food buying clubs and Buying Club Software. Buying clubs are small, quasi-formal purchasing groups who share food orders to meet their needs. Our results suggest that cooperation is vital to the success of food buying clubs, and cooperatives generally. We explain the implications of this finding for the young local food economy and share our future research and solutions plans.
Speakers: Afton Hupper, Taylor Lange, Tim Waring, Local Food Lab, UMaine