The Role of Knowledge in Food Democracy

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

The Role of Knowledge in Food Democracy


  • Camilla Adelle Centre of Excellence for Food Security, University of Pretoria, South Africa / Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract:  If food democracy is about who gets to determine the food that we eat and the character of the underlying food system, then we must examine not only who gets to make decisions that impact on food but also on what evidence, or knowledge, these decisions are made. This article argues that widening the democratic scope of knowledge on which our decisions on food are based is an essential component of food democracy. Food democracies do not just call for citizens to be knowledgeable about the food system but for all stakeholders to actively contribute to the holistic understanding of the food system. Four dimensions of knowledge democracy are set out: The co-production of knowledge with stakeholders; harnessing non-cognitive knowledge represented in arts and culture; knowledge as a tool for action; and the open access and sharing of knowledge. This framework is then used to explore how knowledge is currently already produced and used in a way that enhances food democracy, including through Participatory Action Research with peasant farmers, using the arts to create a ‘contemplative commons’ about food and the unique dialogue process through which the social movement La Vía Campesina operates. Based on these, and other, examples the article concludes that universities, and other recognized centres of knowledge production, need to focus not only on creating new knowledge partnerships but also on finding spaces to challenge and shift accepted ways of knowing in order to better promote food democracy.

Keywords:  cognitive justice; community of practice; food democracy; food security; food sovereignty; indigenous knowledge; knowledge; knowledge democracy

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v7i4.2084


© Camilla Adelle. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.