Food Citizenship is the action of thinking about and being proactive about food, both as individuals and collectively as a nation. Working together with campaigners and influencers, to improve the food system as awareness grows about the impact our dietary choices have on the ecological climate crisis.
Food Citizenship provides a lens to explore the role that individuals and communities can play in addressing social, environmental and political challenges within the food system. Willing people to change their behaviour from simply being a ‘consumer’ basing their choices on convenience and price alone; dictated to by large businesses and governments. To become food citizens who makes ethical and informed decisions, improving their relationship with food.
What makes a good food citizen? As with standard citizenship, Food Citizenship is about informed decision-making, active participation and taking a collective approach to solutions. So the first step to being a good Food Citizen is about building on existing knowledge and educating ourselves through reading articles and reports, watching documentaries, talking to peers and learning about where your food comes from and who produces it. Speaking to people that work in food is always helpful too – be it greengrocers, farmers, food campaigners, community cooks or chefs. Many of us have only a very vague sense of where our food comes from or how it was produced, including the reality of farming in the UK and overseas. For example the UK produces a mere of the 18% of the fruit they eat and only 55% of their fresh vegetables!
And after learning about the issues, it’s by being proactive with your own behaviours, then looking for ways to support others within your community that Food Citizenship really comes to life. This could be by setting up food projects in collaboration with local people, finding ways to support a community fridge scheme to share surplus food or addressing a particular need such as the emergency food distribution hubs we saw spring up during the Covid pandemic. It could also be about campaigning to see change made in how the food sector is regulated or calling on a particular business to change its ways.
With food waste being a large contributor to the greenhouse gases creating the climate crisis, we all have the power to be part of positive change!