Consumption and food production in crisis time: Swiss consumption co-operations as farmers at the End of World War I

Burkhard, Daniel (July 2014). Consumption and food production in crisis time: Swiss consumption co-operations as farmers at the End of World War I (Unpublished). In: Second World Congress of Environmental History. Guimaraes/Portugal. 08.-12.07.2014.

During the last two years of World War I food supply in Switzerland declined and caused shortcomings in consume, leading to social distress and conflict. Mainly two important factors caused these problems: First, Switzerland was highly dependent on food imports and during the war traditional supply lines faded. Second, weather extremes in the years 1916–1917 caused crop failure all over Europe and North America, which intensified the decline of food trade between the nations. In 1918 a conflict between classic urban consumers, such as workers, and famers erupted due to the food shortcomings and led to a lasting discord between urban and agrarian regions in Switzerland.
But there was not only disharmony and conflict between the urban and agrarian regions. As a matter of fact several agents (urban and agrarian) interested in presenting adequate coping strategies to overcome the food shortages developed ideas of alternative ways of food production and supply since 1917. The aim of the paper is to outline these strategies that were undertaken to create a new era of food production that was not solely dependent on the agrarian sector or the import-trade. Actual growing of vegetables in estate areas is an important, but just one, factor of establishing a new system of food production, distribution and consume. The market-leading grocery stores in Switzerland nowadays (Coop and Migros) started their business during that time as co-operatives establishing new forms of distribution and food-production. So the interest of the paper is not only in actual «urban farming», but it wants to share some light on how swiss urban and agrarian spheres overlapped their functions in order to create a modern system of agro food-chains at the beginning of the interwar period.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of History and Archaeology > Institute of History > Economic, Social and Environmental History

UniBE Contributor:

Burkhard, Daniel




Daniel Burkhard

Date Deposited:

03 Mar 2015 12:01

Last Modified:

03 Mar 2015 12:01


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