Jon Alexander a founding partner of the New Citizenship Project - an innovation company that aims to speed the shift to a more participatory society - Zoë Arden spoke to him to find out what he has learnt.
Could a small shift in thinking — from Consumer to Citizen — make a big difference in our food system? This is the question that the New Citizenship Project has been asking many different actors over the past few months, the results of which are published in Food Citizenship: how thinking of ourselves differently can change the future of our food system.
It is wrong to think of ourselves as consumers when we talk about food. It’s easy to think this is just a word, but in reality this label serves to entrench deeply unhelpful dynamics in our food system by telling us that, as individuals and as organisations, our role is limited to consumption: that our power to shape the food system is limited to choices between products, and the signals these choices send through the system.
While we are stuck in this consumer mindset, we will not change the system. It drives the perception that most people don’t care about the damage caused by our existing food system, and this perception perpetuates existing behaviours through that system, at every level.
We believe it is time for those of us who are working for change in the food system — whether from within businesses big or small, in the public sector, or for NGOs — to pause, step back, and reassess what we are trying to do. We believe the time is right to start a new conversation in the food system.