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The importance of citizen scientists in the move towards sustainable diets and a sustainable food system

Oakden, L., Bridge, G., Armstrong, B. , Reynolds, C. ORCID: 0000-0002-1073-7394, Wang, C., Panzone, L., Schmidt Rivera, X., Kause, A., Ffoulkes, C., Krawczyk, C., Miller, G. & Serjeant, S. (2021). The importance of citizen scientists in the move towards sustainable diets and a sustainable food system. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, 5, article number 596594. doi: 10.3389/fsufs.2021.596594


To enhance sustainability, the food system requires shifts in production, processing and supply. Ideally, a sustainable food system should operate, not only to protect the biosphere, but also to provide nutritious, high-quality food, support social values, an equitable economy, and human and animal health. It should be governed responsibly within a supportive policy environment. Implementing these shifts is a task of immense scale; but citizen participation/engagement has the potential to help make sustainability a reality through distributed learning, dynamic sensing, and knowledge generation. Technological advancements in sensing and data processing have enabled new forms of citizen participation in research. When food system research is embedded within society it can help us to understand which changes toward sustainability work. Indeed, citizen engagement in food systems research has the potential to help bring citizens on-side, supporting the growth of a resilience food culture and sustainable practices (including dietary change). This commentary provides examples of how existing research and alternative food production systems and agroecological practices may provide possible frameworks for citizen participation in food system studies. We highlight potential future food and citizen science approaches. Widening citizen participation and encouraging the involvement of other food system actors, including those in local, national and international governance, is essential to capture the full potential of citizen science in enabling transition to a sustainable food system. For the research community citizen science offers engagement and empowerment of wider communities with science; collecting and analysing data; and creating viable solutions to food system and diet issues.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2021 Oakden, Bridge, Armstrong, Reynolds, Wang, Panzone, Schmidt Rivera, Kause, Ffoulkes, Krawczyk, Miller and Serjeant. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
T Technology > TX Home economics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management > Food Policy
SWORD Depositor:
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