One of twelve strategies developed in the Trust Study, with the goal of helping consumers eat more healthfully and sustainably.
In collaboration with EIT Food, Future of Food Institute conducted a study to gain a deeper understanding about consumer attitudes towards the food chain, and particularly the role trust plays in that relationship.
One of the outcomes of this study is a set of twelve strategies, co-created together with European participants in the Citizen Participation Forum 2020.
One of these strategies is Power of Community.
We learned that throughout Europe there are many people who have questions about food and food companies, but also have knowledge that can help other consumers. However, there are limited ways of getting in touch to share this knowledge and information.
Wouldn’t it be great if consumers can help each other understand food better, as well as share information and evaluate products and food producers? With this, consumers can form a force against malpractices of the big players in the food chain.
If consumers unite and form an active collective, they can influence public opinion and demand. Knowing this, actors in the food chain will take these collectives seriously.
Grassroots initiatives which organise activities encouraging learning and experimenting with food allow consumers to play an active role in the food chain and learn more about the difficulties and costs of growing food.
For this strategy to work, the following points need to be taken into account:
Any online consumer platform can be a source of manipulation. The presence of moderators and through checks should be in place to avoid this.
More information doesn’t mean more insight. Information must be presented in ways that consumers can easily interpret, for example using logos or colour schemes.
What did community members say about this?
“In today’s world, the consumer has a good opportunity to influence the actors in the food chain. We can make reviews on social media platforms and at best, that it can go viral all over the world. Different social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. are good discussion forums where one can evaluate the activities, practices and products of food chain actors. It has already been seen in many countries how the problems raised by consumers on social media, from primary production to grocery stores, have highlighted serious abuses by all actors in the food chain.”
Päivi, 63, Finland
“If companies that set up in an area have the local community become shareholders, not for commercial reasons but with interests in ensuring sustainability.”
Alex, 33, Great Britain
“I know this may be not an original example… But I think that Fridays for Future is nowadays a model of how a small community of people can rapidly grow to become a powerful interlocutor that even government and huge corporation have to deal with.”
Best practices: who is already doing this?
Youth food is an Australian movement which runs food education projects for young people. It is an ‘’volunteer-led organisation that aims to build the skills, knowledge and experience that young people have around food’’. The movement empowers young people to take everything they learned out to the world and create a system they believe in.
Fundació Espigoladors is a non-profit organisation volunteers collect surplus produce which are not suitable for the market, including vegetables, nuts, and olives, once the main harvest has finished. These collected foods are then donated to food banks. The aim is to give everyone access to adequate food.
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