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Food Democracy and the Berlin Food Policy Council

Date:12 November 2018
Author:Stephen Leitheiser
Berlin Food Policy Council
Berlin Food Policy Council

Citizen-led Food Policy Councils (FPCs, called an Ernährungsrat in Germany) have been long-standing in the United States and Canada.  But, in recent years Europe has seen an increasing emergence of food initiatives seeking transformative political change in the food system and beyond. I recently traveled to Berlin, Germany for a meeting of the Berlin Food Policy Council (BFPC) to begin exploring the political dimensions of citizen-led food initiatives.

Spurred by the founding of ‘parent’ initiatives in Berlin and Cologne in 2016, over forty cities in Germany have developed FPCs in the past three years, uniting the political goals of individuals and groups with local practices of urban gardening, community education or food sharing initiatives. As such, FPCs emerge as the “connective tissue” linking local practices to the global discourses of Food Sovereignty and Food Democracy.

With “Food Democracy Now!” as a rallying cry, leaders of the BPFC are concerned with finding ways to represent all citizens and to find ways to incorporate more diverse groups, including the many refugees now living in the city. The group also emphasized that “Berlin is not an island”. This notion brings focus towards alliance-building between cities – not only in Germany, but throughout Europe – and connectivity to farmers and food processors in the surrounding state of Brandenburg. In order to explore the latter point of network-building, I will be traveling to Frankfurt at the end of November to attend the Food Policy Networking Congress (Vernetzungskongress). For more impressions and thoughts from the meeting, you can read on my blog “Food Democracy … How?”.