Food Democracy

FarmingWe know the global food system contributes significantly to climate change and environmental degradation. New dynamics are needed to contribute to transforming the food system.  New research conducted at the Swedish University of Agricultural Science (SLU) investigated how chefs practicing sustainable gastronomy are contributing to transforming our food system. A study was conducted interviewing ten chefs from the Chefs Manifesto in three countries from three continents. The researcher wanted to understand if these chefs are practicing food democracy, a concept that rests on the belief that every citizen has a contribution to make to the solution of our common problems. It is about moving from a passive consumer to active participation in making personal choices about ones engagement with the food system collectively. The five principles of food democracy and how they apply in sustainable gastronomy are in figure below.

Chefs and foodThis study shows that chefs practicing sustainable gastronomy are transforming the food system to a more sustainable one by contributing to sustainable food practices, improved food values and new food behaviours. The results very clearly demonstrated that chefs are using the principles of food democracy to empower people to become active in the food system. Chefs are engaging and motivating people, primarily consumers and farmers / producers, to become food citizen and to move from passive to active participation in making personal choices about their engagement with the food system. Chefs are able to influence and establish food trends in a novel manner that contribute to a transformation of consumer behaviour, products and markets. Chefs can be leaders and influencers in sustainable practices and are neglected actors in the food system.



ChefsPractical recommendations are that chefs need to be recognised as change makers in the food system and that investments should be scaled up to equip more chefs with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively engage in food democracy to create a sustainable food system. Additionally, within initiatives already working with chefs practicing sustainable gastronomy, such as the Chef’s Manifesto, the conceptual model developed through this study could be used to guide and measure action and impact. 

Join Leah Richardson, who conducted the research, to hear a little more about the results and engage in a roundtable to discuss how the principles of food democracy can be used to shape our individual and collective actions within sustainable gastronomy.  What can we learn from this to push the food system transformation further and faster?

When: 9 June 2021

Time: 3.00pm BST

To join the conversation, please visit the following to register now!

Written by Leah Richardson. Taken from her thesis research, based on interviews with chefs from the Chefs' Manifesto network.