Big Data, Food Consumption and Food Policy

This lecture explores the significance of the emergence of big data in the world of food.

Collation of data has long been a feature of the food system, but big data does signal a new round in the long tussle between food capital, the state and food democracy. The technical shift in big data creates new opportunities for the transfer of food power between consumers, government and commerce. Public policy is not currently helping the democratisation of these opportunities, despite rhetoric of consumer sovereignty. A new food citizenship is elusive.

This lecture proposes that the 21st century food challenge is no longer a matter of plentiful supply of cheap affordable foods, as the productionists conceived it in the mid 20th century.

Big food data reminds us that the battle for food control is both about information and minds not just nutrients, bodies and ecosystems. And it is still about which policy direction to follow. Big data does not reduce the options but does add urgency.

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