ACSPRI Conferences, RC33 Eighth International Conference on Social Science Methodology

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Developing Food Policy through 'Kitchen Table Talks': Prospects for Australia

Rachel Ankeny, Heather Bray

Building: Law Building
Room: Breakout 8 - Law Building, Room 100
Date: 2012-07-10 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Last modified: 2011-12-16


A range of alternative methodologies have been considered for gathering richly detailed information about people's food choices and their views on food policy. A novel methodology known as 'Kitchen Table Talks' was recently deployed in Canada as part of the grassroots People's Food Policy Project. The goal was for people engaged in food security work in their own communities to invite others to meet around the kitchen table and discuss their local food system and the barriers to food sovereignty that they were encountering, to examine these barriers and their connections to existing policy, and to formulate policy proposals to address the key issues identified by the group. The approach has been lauded as particularly useful because of its informality; its ability to demystify key concepts such as food policy, food security, and food sovereignty; and because it allowed participants to consider the food system as a system. We develop an analysis of the advantages and possible limitations of this methodology by exploring its potential for promoting deliberative democratic values, including whether such methods promote genuine inclusion and contribution by those affected by food policies. In particular, we assess these methodologies for their abilities to engage communities not only in informing, consulting, or involving them, but in higher level engagement processes such as collaboration and empowerment (see Head 2007). The paper concludes with an examination of the prospects of utilizing these methods in Australia for fostering more inclusive and effective food policies.