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Close up of the head of a purple globe artichoke with a city street in the background Close up of the head of a purple globe artichoke with a city street in the background

Becoming Good Food Citizens

By Sara Venn

Language and the way we communicate is proving to be vitally important in our story telling across our incredible movement.

By becoming part of an Incredible Edible group there is an acknowledgement that our food system isn’t working, and certainly doesn’t support social justice and inequality in our communities. But in this time of mass consumption it can be really difficult to realign with a different way of food buying and to communicate that in a positive way. People want to know why and often ask what is the point, and it can be a hard and challenging conversation, and certainly one which can be hard to engage a whole community in. People living in areas with limited access to food, let alone local good food, people struggling with isolation, with zero hours contracts, busy families and anyone living with inequality as their primary priority in changing our society, are all, understandingly, very hard to engage with.

So how do we change our language without distancing people from us? Recently the Food Ethics Council have been talking about changing our language significantly and deciding whether we think of ourselves as consumers or as citizens when we talk about food. As consumers all we do is buy the food that others decide we can have access to. We are disengaged and pretty much uninterested in the food we buy and eat, how it is grown or where it is from. We are being done to, rather than connecting with. However, turn that to food citizens and we tell a different story. A citizen is a member of a community, and active citizenship around food is at the core of the Incredible Edible ethos. Looking at the food system as citizens makes people engage more, question more and become part of a solution to the problematic system of our long distribution systems, our poor care of the soil, and our inability to find local produce in stores, as three examples.

On a community level, how do we acknowledge and change conversations towards becoming food citizens? Listening to and acknowledging others issues is always a good way of engaging with others. Leaving our own agendas at the door and understanding the priorities in other communities and really hearing the priorities of other communities,  becoming their allies and friends will eventually support a connection that enables everyone to see where the links are in agendas and really support all communities to connect. Whilst we understand food is the great connector, often in some marginalised communities people far more naturally come together over food and there is much to be learnt in the power of food and the way it becomes the thread that keeps some communities together in a way that many of us have lost.

But of course the best way to create change is to lead by example and explain to others why we are doing so. Decide to become a food citizen and stick to that decision. Communicate that change to others gently and non-judgementally and encourage friends and family to do the same!

For  more information on food citizenship take a look at the Food Ethics Council’s website at https://www.foodethicscouncil.org/programme/food-citizenship/and at https://foodcitizenship.info. If you’d like to tell your story of food citizenship, get in touch through the website and we’ll be in touch!