Recovering and reclaiming voice
How does one ‘do democracy’ in the context of food systems? Furthermore, can food systems be democratised in spite of an imperfect democratic system? This chapter addresses these two key questions. It examines how alternative food networks, although they attempt to manifest forms of deeper democracy by encouraging voice and participation, can often perpetuate existing forms of oppression by inadvertently excluding people on the basis of race, age, class, ability and language, and ignoring or even rejecting the interests and cultural histories of diverse populations when establishing what constitutes ‘good food’. To overcome these limitations and make food systems more truly democratic, it is argued that participation must incorporate emancipatory learning to support equitable and inclusive civic engagement. Critical pedagogies of place and participatory ecologies need to be considered, and principles of a ‘commons resilience’ – transparency, communication, cooperation, modularity, decoupling capacity, decentralisation, re-localisation, ecological design, adapted size, cognitive diversity, graduated commitments and belonging – must be built into processes of planning and governance of foodscapes.