Public Food is an organisation engaged with the question of how to make sustainable and healthy food more social and inclusive. This begins with a social and inclusive society. We therefore focus on societal issues - health differences, living environments, inequality, the relationship between government, market and society - and how they affect our food.
Public Food gives shape to new ways of thinking and develops projects and strategies to actualise them.
Collective problems need collective organisation
Eaters are citizens
rather than consumers
Sustainability is a
matter of diversity
Public progress rather than social innovation
In a system that privatizes profit and socializes risk, risky food - affecting public and planetary health - is cheap, normalized, subsidized and widely available. While healthy and sustainable food is expensive and exclusive. In such reality it is unrealistic, ineffective and unjust to render our much-needed and urgent collective diet change into a matter of personal responsibility. Public Food is thus invested in making this transformation a public case.
When it comes to food, it’s remarkable how few countries worldwide have institutionalized access to affordable healthy and sustainable food. Think of social housing, public transport, education, drinking water: all of these services - despite of varying quality - can be found organized as public facility. Except for food.
After WWII, food reforms were driven by the need to guarantee a sufficient supply of stable diets. This resulted in cheap food, monoculture, high outputs, cheap labor, processed food, global markets and commercial successes. The cost of such success: 2,5 billion people suffer from malnutrition today and food production has become one of the largest drivers of environmental crises.
People are not rational actors who make decisions in the best of their individual or collective interest. That’s why we need a politics that considers of people as citizens and collectivize the terms and conditions of food from the perspective of multiple societal and planetary problems.
The market for healthy and sustainable food is mostly focused on audiences with the highest conversion rate, i.e. people in a social and financial position to follow a particular lifestyle. This reflects back in marketing and brand strategies, models in campaigns, design, language and leads to the (re)production of stereotypes around health and sustainability. Not all communities (are able to) identify with this dominant narrative. Public Food aims to diversify and pluralize the cosmopolitan plant-based narrative and believes that sustainability is not just a matter of bio diversity, but of cultural diversity too.
The transformation of our relationship to food is a politically and socially long-term process, which urges us to look at the root logic of underlying causes and feedback loops. If we take serious the scale and complexity of global conditions and their material and cognitive ramifications, then it’s the big picture that needs reconceptualization. This goes beyond social innovation, solutionism, corporate responsibility and other offshoots of green capitalism that help mitigate the status quo but fail to transform its very principles. Public progress cannot be reduced into isolated check marks (sustainability / fair trade / localism). And it’s hard to be envisioned from within the traditional structure of rigidly demarcated policy domains (health care / agriculture / economy).
Public Food, as much as it is about facilitating a global turn to plant-based diets, is also about reimagining the subject who eats. Against the hegemony of heroic and economic human subjectivity, Public Food understands of people as meaningful parts of planetary ecosystems, instead of being its liberated best practice. Public Food joins the growing global plea for an interspecies politics, which considers humans, animals and ecosystems as an interrelated dynamic equation that needs to become less anthropocentric. Rather than a politics “of” the environment, we need a politics “with” the environment, and without the false dichotomy between nature and technology.