The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, the Human Rights Institute, Rightslink, and Graduate Legal Studies co-sponsored an evening discussion of food democracy with Olivier De Schutter, former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food and current Member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Food democracy refers to a set of social innovations that aim to reform food systems from the bottom up, taking citizens’ initiatives as a departure point. Such innovations include, for example, climate-smart agriculture schemes, vegetable gardens and other forms of urban agriculture such as farmers markets, and schools that source food locally.
Professor De Schutter’s talk explained the tenets and practice of food democracy and addressed the questions: Can these initiatives have system-wide impacts? How do they relate to the dominant regime? And do they challenge classic forms of representative democracy?