Food Citizenship… what is it all about?

17th Jan 19 by Claire Woodhill

By moving from being a food 'consumer' to a food 'citizen' we can reconnect with our food system.

Claire Woodhill, Youth Engagement Officer for Feedback, explains how we can reconnect with what we eat and our food system through Food Citizenship.

As a many and varied people, we all have our own unique relationships to food – for some it’s a source of creativity, a delicious joy, a curious game, while for others it’s a daily trawl, another thing to worry about, or a downright tribulation.

For more than most of us though, our connection to the foods we consume is very distant. The roots of our food have been lost somewhere down the long production line and with the miles the flavour gets lost too. So what else are we missing?

Why is it that the meal you make together with friends and family tastes so much richer? Why is the meal made from produce you grow yourself that much more satisfying? And why do I feel so relieved when someone else is able to enjoy the excess food that I have no more room for?

Reconnecting with what we eat

What our food system is missing is the true value of food. Big Companies have squeezed this value out, favouring instead their own profit and our addiction.

Our food addictions are numerous; from sugar hits to salt kicks, meat fixes to carb cravings and all through marketing; our senses are bombarded. And often we just want it to be the most convenient thing.

When we dig deeper, we find our true need for food is a need for nourishment. So how can we get our heads back in gear this year, kick our addictions and get back to into food for all the things food can nourish us with – like company, when it brings us together to share; and accomplishment, when we see our efforts bring forth rewards; and mutual respect, when we take only what we need and everyone is satisfied.

Food Citizenship builds on these ideas by asking one overarching question: instead of being passive consumers of food, how can we take part in shaping a food system that works for our communities, our health and our planet?

Taking the first step

There is appetite for these changes; the increase in those adopting vegan and veggie diets, those reducing their meat intake or seeking out better quality produce are brilliant examples of our renewed engagement in where our food comes from and how it is produced, as well as a desire towards healthier, more environmentally and socially sustainable foods.

Food Citizenship comes from the notion that all people are naturally disposed to care but need to have meaningful power in order to sustain that care.

What next?

Feedback will be working in Buckinghamshire this year, to trial a series of workshops co-created with the local community, that aim to find out more about why and how people make food decisions, and explore and nurture what it means to be a food citizen in practice.

We all have the power to make the changes we want to see.

Let’s harness this power in 2019 and take this movement further.
Let’s make 2019 the year mainstream perceptions shift from ‘consumer’ to ‘citizen’.
Let’s make 2019 the year we engage our voices in this shift by demanding the changes we want to see from our food producers and retailers

Over the next few weeks Feedback will explore 5 food citizenship behaviours and provide some suggested actions you can take to utilise your power and become a food citizen. In the meantime, you can read more about Food Citizenship here.

If you are not already to sign up to get updates from Feedback you can do so by clicking here. Sign up and you will be the first to hear about new campaigns and other ways to get involved to make a more sustainable future for food.

What can you do next?