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critical writing

Food democracy: Transcending submission, empowering communities, democratising life

About work

Times full of disproportions, contradictions and challenges call for radical responses. The democratisation of a profoundly authoritative system starts with the essence of life – food. The essay exposes the contradictions and the absurdities of the current food distribution calling for the creation of new platforms for active social involvement. By elaborating an innovative concept of food democracy it demands an all pervasive democratisation of society starting from food. Various historical parallels are drawn in the attempt to put forward a vision of a new society that transcends food dictatorship and empowers communities.

social change, new platforms, people empowerment, urban gardens, transcending authoritarianism, real democracy


Editors comments More info on Curators & Editors ›

This essay links famines to multinational corporations’ control of the food supply, and suggests a more decentralized system of production to alleviate hunger and establish democratic control of food. The author makes a good analogy of food to other public goods, such as public spaces and health care. Could community gardens and shared public farms effectuate such changes? Dimac invokes the example of the Victory Gardens of World War Two to show how small-scale efforts can actually produce large results. By reducing demand in affluent countries, Dimac argues that the monoculture growing methods of the multinationals will wither and be replaced by a healthier system of growing food for the indigenous population.

The idea that small public farms in developed nations could threaten the dominance of multinationals in the Third World needs more research and conceptualization to be persuasive. The growth of such farms may do more to raise awareness of the opportunities for healthy food in Western countries than help poor people in other countries. The author suggests that reducing demand for Third World agriculture will benefit poor societies, but losing Western markets may drive Third World farmers further into poverty. Urban farms in developed countries may be seen as positive substitutions for domestic agribusiness products, as opportunities for underemployed people to be productive and fulfilled in creating and sustaining them, and as helpful in reducing energy usage. That they can be a boon to the rural sectors of developing nations needs further work by the author to become a convincing argument. Has the replacement of monoculture with a more diverse system succeeded in any countries as yet? Exploring positive examples of this process could be the next step in this research, if any exist.

View other works commented by Daniel Marcus  ››

This essay has a simple, unambitious but good structure. In the first part it raises some essential and to my opinion relevant questions on contemporary food politics. In the second part it offers and clarifies one practical solution to the food inequality and authoritarianism: urban gardens. So, let us follow the author’s structure.
I can only agree with author: the democratization of society (can or should) start from food. No real democracy can exist if the food is controlled by greedy elites. As author correctly insists food is essentially connected to power and probably the main problem of food/power connection is that we very seldom think about it. Put in Foucault’s formula: food/power/people. Or to quote Henry Kissinger (cited from the essay): “Control oil and you control nations. Control food and control the people!” So, food/power to the people! Is here actually something to add?

Urban gardens? They can be an interesting example of a new food politics, they can provide “people access to areas where they could directly get involved in democratic food production”, they can “become hospitable green paradises” in “grey concrete jungle” but they cannot feed the planet’s needs! However, do we all live in the cities and do we all want to grow our own food? There are dozens of questions (problems, solutions etc.) on the level of food democracy practice that have to be raised and questioned and food gardens, as author doesn’t stress, are just one of them.

The essay sounds at times more a political/propaganda speech than a serious academical writing, the ideas, and examples should be more developed. Nevertheless, as author (unconsciously) demonstrates, F/food democracy provides a lot to think about – probably much more on the level of practice than on the level of theory.

View other works commented by Jernej Mlekuž  ››

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Entry details


Food democracy: Transcending submission, empowering communities, democratising life

Concept author(s)

Marko Dimač

Concept author year(s) of birth




Competition category

critical writing

Competition field


Competition subfield


Subfield description

University of Primorska, Faculty of humanistics, Intercultural linguistic mediation