It has been a tough yet hopeful year for food, sustainability and social justice. Looking forward to 2022 we will all need strength, hope and inspiration to remain resilient. Food citizenship gives us all these things. I’ve really loved the last three months exploring, listening and learning, and wanted this last blog of the year to reflect on some highlights: Meeting the team and council in person (mostly) at the Food Ethics Council AGM and council meeting in October. I knew within about ten minutes that these were all deeply committed, smart,
Every One Every Day is the largest participatory project in the world and a brilliant example of what can be achieved when you harness the skills present in a community.
One key element of food citizenship is connection. When people are brought together, new relationships are formed, information flows more easily, ideas are generated more quickly. New possibilities emerge. It is this emergence that builds resilience. Building on initial workshops on community food resilience in Sheffield, in August 2020 we interviewed community food organisations to get a sense of how they design spaces which foster social interaction. Here are some things we learned in the
By Olivia Oldham In the Highlands of Scotland, not far from the mountain resort town of Aviemore, there is a bright yellow horsebox, decorated with colourful flags. That horsebox is the home of Reviving Food, a mobile micro-bakery, where founder and owner Rosie Gray bakes and sells sourdough bread and pastries to feed the small, rural community of Kincraig. But it isn’t just a bakery—it’s also a place for the community to come together to
Shared Assets is a think tank building a land system which serves the common good. Consultancy Coordinator Tom Carman argues that alleviating inequities in access to land is essential in building more just and sustainable food systems and unpacks different actions we can take to ensure the fairer distribution of land.
Currently the public is unable to access 92% of land and 97% of waterways in England by laws of trespass. Here Helene Schulze interviews writer-activist Nick Hayes on how trespass laws relate to land ownership and what citizens can do.
Amidst the chaos, innovation can emerge. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the fragility of our food systems, but it is also showing the light through the cracks. Much can be learned from the major shifts we have been experiencing, as long as we know where to look. When looking at food ‘first respondents’, we can turn to emergency food aid providers. If the challenges they faced before 2020 were significant, these have become particularly acute
During the past few months of lockdown, the forces of consumerism and food citizenship have collided and shifted more than ever. This has been particularly true for organisations focused on emergency food aid. They have been facing their own challenges when trying to shift from treating people as consumers, who receive a service and food parcel, to citizens, who are empowered to shape their food environment. So much can be learned on community resilience and
The barriers to cooking for people in poverty are complex and multiple. Too often resulting poor diets are thought to be an outcome of no cooking skills or lack of motivation. Alicia Weston from Bags of Taste, unpacks some of these more complex reasons and how they have been exacerbated under the pandemic and lockdown.
As we move through the pandemic, we are thinking about how we can #BuildBackBetter and embed food citizenship thinking as we build and strengthen resilient food systems moving forward. Helene Schulze is co-director of the London Freedom Seed Bank and regional coordinator for the Seed Sovereignty Programme of the Gaia Foundation. Here she unpacks the role of community seed banks and small seed commercial producers in building resilience. The UK is peppered with seed savers,
Across the country there has been an outpouring of food responses to the COVID-19 crisis in the last few weeks. From innovative emergency food provision programmes to ensure vulnerable people are fed, to novel food distributions channels to support local businesses, community organisations, businesses, local authorities and citizens are stepping up. How can we ensure these responses are founded on food citizenship thinking and build resilience into our food systems? We hear from Sara Venn,
In the midst of political shifts and uncertainty, there is a new wave of politics bubbling under the surface. This new story is redefining what meaningful citizen participation means for governments. We spoke to Jon Alexander, co-founder at the New Citizenship Project and Trustee of the Food Ethics Council, to find out more about this emerging trend. Anna: What positive changes can we see in today’s politics? Jon: It might not be immediately obvious, but
With rising global crises and shrinking funding pots, local authorities have their work cut out to help and support their communities. Thankfully, there is a new narrative of the role of public sector emerging from these uncertain times. Rather than being the overstretched service provider and answer to all our problems, local authorities are increasingly stepping into their role as facilitators and conveners of change. So what can local authorities in the UK learn from
Earlier this month, a group of us had the opportunity to gather around the question “How can thinking of ourselves and others as food citizens, rather than consumers, help solve the challenges of our food systems?”. After a warm welcome from Dan Crossley from the Food Ethics Council, Jon Alexander, co-founder of the New Citizenship Project, took us through the mindset shift that is currently happening in the wider world, from consumerism to citizenship. At
Treating people as food citizens isn’t simply thinking about our customers or members differently. It is about how we interact with people within the food system, including our employees. If change starts from within, how can we support people within our organisations first? How do we nurture our immediate community and how do we empower our colleagues? We spoke to Adam Thompson, Chief Rebel at Rebel Kitchen, to hear about how one business approaches its
The “solution” I hear mentioned most often when it comes to solving the current climate crisis is ‘education’. Indeed, education is a first step to any meaningful action, but it cannot lead to action without a sense of agency – the belief that we can create change. On its own, education brings a sense of responsibility without necessarily the tools to create change, which either leads to denial of responsibility (and shifting responsibility to someone
As a teenager, and largely by chance, I became involved in various local youth projects that opened my eyes to a world of organisations, projects and advisory boards that engaged with many issues and ideas that interested me. This involved giving more than a few tokenistic speeches and meetings with ‘decision makers’. Overall this experience left me rather optimistic, having encountered so many adults that were interested in what young people had to say. I
How to spot our fellow food citizen leaders You believe in people. You want to do the right thing for society to thrive now and in the future, but you know that you can’t do it alone. A key step to building our food citizenship movement – and to getting anywhere in the ethical food sector – is to find the right partnerships. Whether we are bringing multiple organisations to work towards a common goal
Good news: people already care. As citizens, we care about animals being treated humanely, about the wellbeing of the environment, about the livelihoods of those who grow and make our food. Don’t believe it? Before diving into the Food Citizenship movement, I didn’t either. And that’s because by only talking about the consumer, we are missing the bigger picture. The Common Cause found that most people care more about things like ‘helpfulness’, ‘equality’ and ‘protection
Since starting work on the Food Citizenship movement, I have received countless enquiries to collaborate, to help grow the movement and to start the movement in a particular sector, city, or even country! There is a lot of appetite to get involved and great potential for this new shift in society to take hold. So how do we grow this movement? How do we spread this idea that ‘citizen’ is a much broader representation of
As food citizens, we believe in the power of people. We want to and can have a positive influence on the food system. We also know that we express more of our true selves as citizens than we do as consumers. As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said: “Show people as one thing, only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.” (Her TED talk here is worth the detour!) So what story
Happy New Year! ? (It’s still socially acceptable to say that mid-January, right?) 2019 was in for a great start with the much-anticipated Oxford Real Farming Conference! We were very fortunate to run a session on Food Citizenship, which if you attended – THANK YOU! The session was a great opportunity to share what Food Citizenship looks like in practice. To help me I was joined by two great speakers: Clare Hill from FAI Farms,
How a small shift in thinking – from Consumer to Citizen – can make a big difference in our food system
A new idea is taking hold across the UK food and farming sector: Food Citizenship. This idea tells us, and others, that we are not just consumers at the end of the food chain, but participants in the food system as a whole. It tells us that we have the power not just to choose, but to shape the choices on offer. We can and indeed are starting to work together in interdependence, seeking not