The paper outlines a framework of the existing literature upon Alternative Food Networks moving from four different although interrelated standpoints: territorial, environmental, economic, and sociological. The territorial perspective will highlight the modalities through which agri-food networks are organised at different geographical scales and affect the territories they are linked to. The environmental analysis will urge to go beyond a simple, even if very complex to study, “Life Cycle Assessment” to take into account the multi-functionality of farms and the territorial dimensions of the area where the supply chains is placed. The economic standpoint will outline the necessity to examine both the economic determinants of the farmers’ choice to use the AFNs and the mechanisms explaining why consumers are using, from the demand side, the same chains. Finally, the sociological analysis will point to the mechanisms through which quality conventions emerge and diffuse in AFNs.
Alternative Agri-Food Networks; territoriality; social networks; quality conventions; Life Cycle Assessment