Food cooperatives can be qualified as a civic food network as they can create more embedded market relations between consumers and farmers and increase knowledge about food consumption. In this study, we explore why farmers collaborated with the consumer-initiated food co-op D’Speis in Vienna, and assess the food co-op’s potential to support a peasant mode of farming. Farmers and working members of the food co-op were interviewed. As the food co-op selected their suppliers depending on their production methods, i.e. small-scale and organic farming, all farmers showed some elements of peasant farming. The interaction between farmers and co-op members, especially regarding price negotiations and quality standards, provided farmers with more room to manoeuvre. As the food co-op’s contribution to farmers’ incomes was negligible, the food co-op mainly supported peasant farming in the sphere of social and cultural capital. However, the degree of collaboration differed substantially as more peasant farmers interacted more closely with the food co-op. The farmers and co-op members shared their criticism of the hegemonic food system, but on the other hand missed clear common goals. Both farmers and food co-op members regarded their practices as political acts for a different food system. Values deduced from these practices point towards food sovereignty, which could serve as a compass for common political actions.
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