Power to the people? Food democracy initiatives’ contributions to democratic goods

Jeroen J.L. Candel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


In order to foster a transition of the food system toward more sustainable outcomes, scholars have increasingly pointed at the need for organizing strengthened food democracy. By increasing the participation of citizens and food system actors, democratic innovations, such as food policy councils, are believed to promote the quality and legitimacy of food policymaking. However, the question of whether and how food democracy initiatives do indeed contribute to more democratic modes of governance largely remains unexplored. This study addresses this gap by performing a systematic literature review of the existing scholarship on food democracy, assessing democratic innovations for their contributions to four democratic goods: inclusiveness, popular control, considered judgment and transparency. The analysis shows that food democracy initiatives tend to be dominated by organized interests, have more influence on agenda-setting and implementation compared to decision-making, and generally aim for some form of deliberation or knowledge exchange. The precise selection mechanisms, processes and quality of deliberation, and transparency of democratic innovations remain important research gaps. The paper ends with a plea to better connect food democracy scholarship with the broader political sciences, as well as various suggestions for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1477-1489
JournalAgriculture and Human Values
Issue number4
Early online date6 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Democratic innovation
  • Food democracy
  • Food policy
  • Food policy councils
  • Food system
  • Transparency


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