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Engaging the Public in Food Policy Deliberation

"Freedom from Want", painting by Norman Rockwell

“Freedom From Want” by Norman Rockwell, 1943. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Food is of central importance in human lives, and has meanings beyond basic nutrition such as pleasure and community identity. Given the universality of the human connection to food, it is troubling that the general public is often excluded from the creation of food policy, which is generally the domain of elite expert participants. As public trust in the food system erodes, it is time to consider how we might better engage the public in food policy deliberation.

Professor Rachel Ankeny‘s latest paper “Inviting Everyone to the Table: Strategies for More Effective and Legitimate Food Policy via Deliberative Approaches”, published in the Journal of Social Philosophy, explores the issue of public engagement in food policy creation and offers a set of deliberative practices to facilitate such participation. The paper contributes to the development of deliberative democracy theory and practice in the realm of food policy and beyond. As the abstract explains:

“It is well-recognized that the general public is not typically involved in food policy debates, with participation often limited to elite participants with special interests. This paper investigates potential strategies for more effective and legitimate food policy utilizing systemic approaches to deliberative democracy. Two main strands are explored: first, it is argued that food is a key domain that could benefit from the move to systematic approaches to deliberative democracy. Examination of various types of public engagement about food, including consultation by submission, consensus and citizen conferences, citizens’ juries, and local food planning, reveals a dominance of micro-public perspectives that warrant greater integration and analysis at a systemic, macro level. Second, the paper contributes to the dialogue on systemic deliberative processes by analyzing tensions that are endemic in the domain of food policy, illustrating some of the points of weakness (and potential strengths) for effective deliberation in similar complex systems as well as presenting suggestions of directions for future research to contribute to the development of a more robust analytic framework for systematic approaches to deliberative democracy.”

The full paper is available from the Journal of Social Philosophy.

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  1. […] Speaking to delegates from industry, researchers, and investors at the Ag & Foodtech Symposium in Brisbane, Professor Rachel Ankeny explained that the future of genetic modification must include dialogue and debate with the public. […]

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