Food Citizenship: How thinking of ourselves differently can change the future of our food system

11 August 2017

The report launched by the New Citizenship Project in collaboration with the Food Ethics Council explores the transformative effects of thinking of ourselves and others as citizens rather than consumers in the food system.

Our food system is stuck because we are thinking small

  • The idea that people are best understood as Consumers is pervasive throughout the food system, particularly in the language we use.
  • ‘Consumer’ is not a neutral word or idea; it is proven to prime us into behaving with short term, self-interest over our more deeply held values. The more pervasive the idea of the Consumer the more we accept and reinforce a narrow version of ourselves, driven by price and convenience alone.
  • This trap is a root cause of many of the problems of the food system., limiting efforts to change it for the better.
  • As a result, "By most indicators, the challenges facing the food system are getting worse not better" (Food Ethics Council)
  • We need to think bigger. 

Expanding our idea of humanity will unlock massive change

  • It doesn’t have to be this way. Our work shows people can and want to shape the societies we live in, and feel most fulfilled when we are able to do that. We are Citizens, not just Consumers.
  • If we start from this bigger idea of humanity, we can reimagine every role in the food system - from shareholders to NGOs to government, producers and brands - and approach every debate with new questions, harnessing people power and ideas.
  • Food Citizenship is a creative opportunity to make our food system fairer and more sustainable, and to build commercial success in a different way. Our report shows it is a trend gathering momentum in food, as in other sectors and industries.
  • We need to equip individuals and organisations to see themselves and others as Food Citizens, so that together we can deliver the significant change the food system needs.

Download the full report


Leon Ballin
Sustainable Food Cities
07 917 230 121

Sustainable Food Cities is a partnership programme run by

Soil Association

Food Matters

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Sustainable Food Cities is funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

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