The political economy of food
This issue (PDF) of the IDS Bulletin examines a range of perspectives on power in food systems, and the various active players, relationships, activities, and institutions that play a major role in shaping them. Any analysis of food systems needs to include power as an aspect of political economy, in order to understand how power relations develop over time and how they affect different food system actors. The issue notes the need for mainstream research and policy to grapple with power inequities in the food system, in order, for instance, to challenge the increase in private sector funding that is reshaping food systems. The power of dominant food system actors is often reinforced or overlooked, having negative consequences for those unable to access sufficient healthy food or to participate in decision-making about the food system. The issues begins with an introduction to how power is analysed from different political economy perspectives before moving on to articles focusing on four key themes: diversity and innovation, the food–health nexus, the politics of consumption, and agroecology and food sovereignty. In aiming to understand power in the food system, there are many different disciplinary, epistemological, and ideological entry points into the study of power, and seeking a single approach will likely limit the insights that different disciplines and research orientations can bring to the study of food systems. First, power must be better understood at its different levels, forms, and spaces, whereafter this understanding should be used in order to transform food systems via equitable processes which work towards the interests of all.