Passion & Food: Perspectives From A Research Internship

This post was written by master student Emma Anttila. It summarizes her experience while conducting a research internship on the Organizing REKO project.

Hello everyone! My name is Emma Anttila and for the last two months, I have been a research intern for the Organizing REKO project. I am currently enrolled at Uppsala University, studying the international master’s program Digital Media and Society, but I was born and raised in Finland where I did a bachelor’s in political science, media, communication, and sustainable development at Åbo Akademi. I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to take part in this project from its beginning. Being a part of a research project with passionate and dedicated researchers has been a great learning experience for me. 

When I first heard about the project I immediately felt drawn to learn more. I quickly planned a meeting with Daniel Lövgren, and seeing his excitement and dedication to REKO made me want to join the project immediately. Getting familiarized with local food systems, specifically REKO, was illuminating for me. Furthermore, finding out that REKO originates from my hometown Jakobstad in Finland made me feel even more personally connected to the project. When I went home to Jakobstad for summer break, I made sure to visit the local pick-up multiple times to buy some food and to see what this thing was all about. I quickly realized that these pick-ups were more than just shopping trips. 

My two main tasks in this project have been to search for previous and relevant literature, and to collect online data from REKO Facebook groups. As this was my first time working with a research project, searching for literature has been a humbling experience. However, I realized that the main theory we are focusing on (Organizationality) which, as Daniel put it, is “a communication-based view on how loose social formations achieve degrees of “organization-ness” through interconnected processes of identity, actorhood, and decision-making” has little research, especially in connection with local food systems. Since the theory is fairly new this didn’t come as a surprise. I found a few articles specifically about REKO which made me realize how much there is to discover about it. Researching local food systems in connection with organizations will support sustainability in various ways. Supporting producers and consumers to buy local food is an important part of supporting ecological sustainability.  In a globalized world, it is so easy to get everything we want, we easily forget that there are producers nearby providing us with healthy local food which benefits both parties.

My second task, as mentioned earlier, was to collect data from Facebook groups. I deep-dived into two REKO groups in Finland and two in Sweden. I was also able to visit one of the pick-ups in Sweden to do an ethnographic observation. I had another experience where I saw that the REKO groups were communities. People seemed to be familiar with each other, both customers and producers. Producers were chatting with each other as well as customers.  The pick-up gave me the same feelings as the ones back in my hometown Jakobstad. It was astonishing to see people discuss and connect on the foods as well as various other topics. People came on their bikes, with families, pets, or friends, and it seemed like everyone enjoyed being on site.

I want to finish this blog post by expressing my gratitude for this experience. A big thank you to Daniel and all the project members who gave me this opportunity. Also, a thank you to all the producers and consumers who make REKO work. I can happily say I am an active REKO user now due to my great experiences.

//Emma Anttila

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