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Accounting shadow benefits of non-market food through food-sharing networks on Hachijo Island, Japan

Tatebayashi, Kana, Kamiyama, Chiho, Matsui, Takanori, Saito, Osamu, Machimura, Takashi
Sustainability science 2019 v.14 no.2 pp. 469-486
accounting, financial economics, fruits, home gardens, household expenditure, interviews, nutrients, nutritive value, potatoes, questionnaires, rural areas, seafoods, surveys, sustainability science and engineering, Japan
People in rural areas often grow foods in their home gardens and share them through food-sharing networks. Besides the obvious economic benefits, such shared food via non-market transactions enriches the inhabitants’ lives by strengthening their social relationships and nutritional quality. These shadow benefits of non-market food are qualitatively recognized, but have not been fully integrated into formal accounting systems. Thus, the present study quantifies the shadow benefits of food-sharing networks by considering the non-market food distribution on Hachijo Island, Japan. Based on interviews and questionnaire surveys, we graphically visualized the structure of the food-sharing networks and the seasonality of the shared-food species. The study revealed the proportions of foods acquired through self-production, sharing networks and purchases by systematic food category, and quantified the monetary and nutritional values of the non-market foods. The island residents shared various seasonal foods within and beyond the island, and the non-market food was beneficial to their health. More than 20% of the islanders’ annual consumption of potatoes, vegetables, seafood, and fruits were obtained through the food-sharing networks. Non-market food largely saved the household expenditure and provided a wide variety of nutrients. As future perspectives of food-sharing networks, we suggest balancing market-based and non-market food provisions, promoting local production for local consumption, and designing local food resilience in disaster events.