Critical food policy literacy

Conceptualizing community municipal food policy engagement




Critical Food Policy Literacy, Food Policy Literacy, Critical Literacies, Food Literacy, Food Policy, Policy Literacy, Food System Participation, Participatory Policy, Municipal Food Policies, Participatory Food System Planning


Food policies should be informed by those whom they intend to serve, but policy-making processes remain exclusive to privileged voices, knowledge, and experiences. Food activists, organizations, and academia have worked to make policy processes inclusive through training communities in food policy, potentially increasing their food policy literacy (FPL). In this paper, I argue that making food policy processes, information, and training accessible to community actors can better prepare them to participate in, interpret, and control food system policies, especially at the municipal level. I build on the premise that a clear understanding of food policies is a necessary (if not sufficient) condition for community engagement in food systems policy formulation, planning, and implementation. Existing literature has thoroughly defined food literacy (FL) and policy literacy (PL), but there has been very limited work on defining “food policy literacy.” To address this conceptual gap, this article bridges food and policy scholarship with the critical literacy work of Paulo Freire to answer: How do we understand literacies tied to food policy? What does (or what could) it mean to be food policy literate? How can critical literacy tied into food policy transform food systems? Following this analysis, I propose critical FPL is a ‘reading of the world and of words,’ a critical awareness of food policy processes, a contextual and authentic learning practice, and a collective engagement with food policy transformation.


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Author Biography

Carol E. Ramos-Gerena, University at Buffalo, SUNY

Research Assistant, Food Systems and Healthy Communities Lab, University at Buffalo



How to Cite

Ramos-Gerena, C. (2023). Critical food policy literacy: Conceptualizing community municipal food policy engagement. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 12(2), 1–17.