To operate within the safe and just operating space captured by the doughnut metaphor, sustainability transitions are needed in the food system. Niche food systems with highly distinct practices and organization constitute a treasure chest of alternatives from which society can build new futures. Policy has little awareness of niche food systems and their potential contributions to sustainability transitions. Importantly, this limits society’s ability to adapt. Here, we review findings from an ongoing scientific project into different components of the vegetable food systems in Chile and Uruguay. The aim of the project is to investigate options for transitioning to low- or no-pesticide vegetable food systems. The results show: 1. the presence of promising alternative vegetable food systems in Chile, which are, however, highly marginalized and disempowered; 2. a diversity of vertical and horizontal producer arrangements in Uruguay and the need for value-driven as well as market-driven engagement; and 3. major possibilities for improving production systems to arrive within the doughnut by taking a systems perspective at the farm scale that includes the farm families and their networks. Consequences of these findings for alternative vegetable food systems are discussed.