Understanding democracy: Concepts, practices, and the power of decision-making in the food system Public Deposited

This paper investigates decision-making power and democracy within the food system, emphasizing the benefits of participatory democratic action as a model for decision-making power of ordinary people. With less agency of an industrialized global food system, people are asking what we can do more for the health of our food and our planet, collectively, as a way to countervail the structures of power within the food system. Food movements call for democratic processes to be implemented in the creation of alternatives to the corporate food regime. However, what’s clear is that what it means to do democracy varies, and there is no standard set of criteria for determining what participatory democracy should look like in practice. My main research question asks, how we can better address decision-making power in the food system? Using critical inquiry and a scoping review for my overall methodology, and employing discourse and thematic analysis as my methods, I also ask how the food movement conceptualizes democracy, and how the movement puts it into practice so that we can better understand how to better address decision-making in the food system. Most food movement actors agree that some form of inclusivity and participation of stakeholders, as well as support and participation from regional, national and global institutions, is necessary for the future health of our food system, people, and the planet. For decision-making power to be distributive, democratic principles must be a part of and guide organizational efforts for effective food system change. The Food Chain Workers Alliance and Food Policy Councils are two examples of democratic principles in action.

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