Food Democracy - Food Citizenship And Civic Agriculture - Essay Examining - Assessment Answer

December 20, 2017
Author : Ashley Simons

Solution Code: 1ADJJ

Question:Food Democracy

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Food Democracy Assignment

Compare and contrast an example of food democracy with a large supermarket. In your essay you need to examine both the nature of “food” and “democracy” in your chosen environments. Address the following questions in your essay

Assignment Task

  1. Demonstrates an understanding of the key principles and types of democracy and how these may be applied to food
  2. Describes the ways in which democratic principles may be applied to food/ food systems in the context of public health
  3. Demonstrates an understanding of the concepts of food citizenship and civic agriculture
  4. Meets the general assessment criteria, such as:

  • Provides a lucid introduction that relates your paper to public health issues generally
  • Shows a sophisticated understanding of the key issues
  • Shows the ability to interpret relevant information and literature in relation to the topic
  • Shows evidence of reading beyond the core and recommended reading
  • Justifies any conclusions reached with well-formed arguments not merely assertion complies with normal academic standards of legibility, referencing and bibliographical details

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Solution:

Introduction

Food is a nourishing substance which provides energy, facilitates growth and ultimately helps in preserving life on earth. Democracy is a system of governance where people have the ultimate control in their well being. In democracy, it is the people which directly or indirectly formulate and implement the policies that govern them. Thus, “Food Democracy” is a concept where each and every citizen possesses equal right of sufficient, nutritious and secure supply of food. Just like political democracy, information, education and equal participation are important parameters in an ideal food democracy. Every food purchase matters which is considered as a vote as in a real democracy. Food democracy addresses the important issues associated with public health and all the stakeholders of the food ecosystem. The main concerns relating to public health revolves around the fact that in mainstream food supply systems, certain corporate giants or big players control the entire ecosystem and hence they lack in democratic credentials.

Democratic Principles & Comparison of Two Food Systems

Two distinct food systems are considered from the food ecosystem of Albury, New South Wales, Australia. Coles Supermarket is a renowned food chain in the region and Indiana Food Community is an ideal example of food democracy serving twelve households of Albury. Coles is known for its quality services for decades and can be characterized as a responsible corporate entity serving a wide range of locations across Australia. On the other hand, Indiana Food Community is a result of the concern over the sustainable future of the community members and supporting the individual family firms. The food community believes that the food supermarkets are more concerned about their profit making ambitions and hence pay less importance on the issues associated with environment, local farmers and community interests.

Indiana Food Community believes that the basic democratic principle of majority governance as mentioned in (Urofsky, 2001) should also be followed in food supply chain of their community. Though Coles is known for its superior qualitative standards, it is in direct conflict with the basic principle of minority rights in an ideal democracy. As a large scale corporate entity, it controls the food supply chain serving the majority of people. Hence, in this case, the interest of majority is being protected by the minority group. But in a democracy, minority rights are being protectd by the majority.

Political Equality and Civic Participation are two important factors as explained in the book (Bahmueller, Quigley & Johnston, 2007). Equality has been made a basic characteristic of Indiana Food Community. Every household possesses equal say over the production, distribution and maintenance of food cultivated in the local family firms. Each family participates on the type & nature of fertilizers and pesticides to be used as per common interest. This takes the community closer towards democratic principles in comparison to the supermarket.

Another basic principle of democracy is economic freedom. It is widely accepted that economic freedom enhances the welfare measures and opportunities which are key ingredients of a democratic society. As mentioned in (Stroup, 2007), public policies are very much essential in determining the market policies which ultimately help in attaining economic freedom. Coles Supermarket is known to provide competitive and reasonable market rates which are highly affordable for the consumers. But the consumers do not possess any control over the market policies and determination of rates of the food items provided by the supermarket. But, Indiana Community was created on the very principle of member participation on the determination of economic policies of food production and distribution. Hence, the community follows another fundamental principle of democracy.

Food Democracy & Public Health

Public Health is a necessary aspect of the alternative food movement in many countries all over the world. Such food movements are gaining momentum to establish strong sustainable food systems for the collective good of the citizens. European Union has banned many food items and set regulations for the use of antibiotics, harmful drugs and genetically modified foods. As (Harkness, 2013) has mentioned, such bans and regulations are results of the consistent protest of many concerned stakeholders for years. It has also been observed that the corporate giants and supermarkets are not as concerned as the public community stakeholders regarding public health issues. This phenomenon is an important point for the emergence of food communities like Indiana Community in response to the supermarkets.

As mentioned in the concept of “Civic Agriculture” in the chapter 5.1 of (Booth, Coveney, & al, 2015), the social processes in the community levels are very important issues as compared to the profit oriented corporate approaches. Moreover, discussions and debates are also important factors associated with the democratic traditions found in a food community. Such deliberations facilitate the addressing of public health issues of the food supply chain. Lack of citizen participation gives the process a top to bottom approach in contrast to democratic principles. The concept of food localization is assumed to reduce the drawbacks of food corporations & globalized markets. As food is directly associated with the health of the individuals in a community, the community members should have the right to contribute & give suggestions for the cumulative process of food supply chain. This particular phenomenon is observed in an ideal food democracy such as Indiana Community.

With increasing population growth, new technologies such as genetic modifications and nanotechnology have been used as further development efforts of green revolution. As per the explanation of (Lang & Heasman, 2015), health problems and lifestyle diseases such as Diabetes, Heart Diseases and Obesity are closely related with the food governance and therefore food policies should efficiently address these issues and check whether the technological developments have any influence on the public health. It is also required to further analyze the role of “Big Food” players (where Coles is also a part) of Australia mentioned in (Booth, Coveney, & al, 2015) in solving the public health concerns.

Food Citizenship and Civic Agriculture:-

Food Citizenship and Civic Agriculture are two key concepts of Food Democracy. The concept has been described in (Wilkins, 2005) as a sustainable food ecosystem established under the basic democratic principles and social as well as environmentally acceptable norms. In order to be a proper food citizen, the consumers should give due preference to the locally grown foods and farmers. Additionally, an ideal food citizen should be highly informative, should make healthier food choices and try to grow some food items on their own; as pointed out by (Daniella, 2010). Thus, food citizenship finds its relevance in the comparison between Indiana Community & Coles Supermarket. While, the members of the community pay due importance on the basic ideas of food citizenship; the food procurement process of the food giants are not essentially responsive towards the local concerns.

The concept of Civic Agriculture has close relation with that of Food Citizenship. Civic Agriculture promotes an agriculture method which pays great importance to the locally grown foods. It aims to attain social & economic development of the local community by facilitating the inclusion of local stakeholders in the production & distribution process of food supply chain. It has been recognized in (Lyson, 2012) that the re-localization process is going to get further relevance in the food production process of future. Thus Civic Agriculture is the key to the community food production for the common minimum goal of healthier life choices.

Food and Democracy in Both the Examples

It can be clearly observed that “food” is a commodity for the ultimate goal of financial & profit making purpose for the industrial food ecosystem. Though, Coles gives due importance on the customer issues and quality products in their outlets, the community members generally feel that the common democratic rights in decision making are ignored by the food giants. To establish the values of equal participation as in a “Democracy”, communities such as Indiana Food Community and similar efforts on individual level are being created across Albury and different parts of Australia. This phenomenon is further explained in (Hamilton, 2004) when the importance of informed consumers and public policies supporting the local food systems are described. Thus, industrial food systems which are the mainstream market players in the food supply chain are not in proper synchronization with the democratic concepts of public health.

It can be concluded that the relevance of the correlation of “food” and “democracy” makes alternative food system a preferred choice among the citizens. With increase in the awareness level of the public, they have become more concerned about the influence of food production & distribution systems in health related issues of the community. The people have established individual food gardens in their backyards and have also been developing community gardens which can provide them healthier food options. These efforts involve debates and discussions among citizens and enhance their economic well being. Most importantly, the fundamental principles of democracy are being followed by individual and community level efforts in comparison to the supermarkets. Therefore, the alternative efforts of Indiana Food Community can be regarded as recommended future best practices for the localized food ecosystem in Australia and other countries.

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