Equity, Health, and Sustainability with PROVE: The Evaluation of a Portuguese Program for a Short Distance Supply Chain of Fruits and Vegetables
PROVE is a Portuguese program that empowers small-scale farmers organized into local networks to directly commercialize baskets of locally produced fruits and vegetables to consumers. This study applied a post-test-only non-equivalent group design to evaluate the resulting influence on the social empowerment of farmers and on consumer diets.
The method included conducting a survey of PROVE farmers (n = 36) and a survey of PROVE consumers (n = 294) that were compared against matched samples of Portuguese respondents of international surveys (European Social Survey, n = 36 and the INHERIT Five-Country Survey, n = 571, respectively). PROVE farmers reported higher scores for perceived influence on the work environment than the national sample. PROVE consumers were more likely to eat five or more portions of fruits and vegetables a day in comparison to the matched sample of Portuguese citizens (average odds ratio: 3.05, p < 0.05). Being a PROVE consumer also generated an impact on the likelihood of consuming no more than two portions of red meat a week (average odds ratio: 1.56, p < 0.05).
The evaluation study suggests that the promotion of short supply chains of fruits and vegetables can make a positive contribution to a healthier, more sustainable, and fairer future in food consumption. Keywords: short distance supply chain; fruits and vegetables; farmers; consumers; empowerment; health; equity; sustainability