Research Topic

Food Policy Environments: Discursive Effects, Material Consequences

About this Research Topic

Food systems are complex and intersect with a range of policy spheres. Policy communicates values and thus shapes public perceptions and understandings of the issues any policy aims to address. Whether we talk about the cost of food in terms of “consumer price index” or “food affordability” makes all the difference in how policy priorities are set, and how policy implementation is perceived by the public. A food item can be described as fatty, which is descriptive, or fattening, which conjures assumptions around body weight that can have implications for nutrition and food labelling policy, and for population health. “Agri-food industry” and “food systems” frames can invite very different approaches to policy.


Food scholars have repeatedly drawn attention to the disjointed nature of food policy. In most jurisdictions, there is no coherent food policy. Instead, food policy is segmented into other policy areas, such as agriculture, health, and trade. The consequences of this, critical scholarship notes, are far-reaching. We see obesity as a matter of individual lifestyle, rather than a result of environmental factors that include access to healthful foods and opportunities for physical exercise. We see peasant struggles as a failure of “development”, conveniently ignoring the role of agri-food conglomerates in influencing agricultural, environmental and trade policy around the globe.


Because food intersects with so many policy areas, like health, education, land use & regional planning, environment, poverty-reduction, equity & inclusion, and rural & business development, food scholars have highlighted the need for integrated (or systems) thinking, and critical analysis of complex policy environments. Those environments include the social, economic, and political discourses that delineate policy possibilities in any given jurisdiction. This topic aims to gather papers that critically examine food policy environments and the discursive power they carry, as they define priorities and policy boundaries. We are specifically interested in inquiries that delve into material consequences of policy environments on food producers, harvesters, processors, distributors, institutions, and eaters.


This topic call welcomes submissions that use a communication/discourse studies approach to address any aspect of food-related policy and its material implications. Examples of promising policy models, critiques of existing food policy, and explorations of alternative possibilities are all welcome. Themes may include: nutrition, food security, food charity, agricultural supports, agriculture research programs, institutional procurement, municipal food policy councils, food systems research programs, agro-tourism, food literacy/education, and zoning laws. Collectively, the contributions will provide a well-rounded and diverse set of insights into the communicative power of policy in the realm of food. 


Johanna Wilkes (Wilfrid Laurier University) has contributed to the development and coordination of this Research Topic.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Food systems are complex and intersect with a range of policy spheres. Policy communicates values and thus shapes public perceptions and understandings of the issues any policy aims to address. Whether we talk about the cost of food in terms of “consumer price index” or “food affordability” makes all the difference in how policy priorities are set, and how policy implementation is perceived by the public. A food item can be described as fatty, which is descriptive, or fattening, which conjures assumptions around body weight that can have implications for nutrition and food labelling policy, and for population health. “Agri-food industry” and “food systems” frames can invite very different approaches to policy.


Food scholars have repeatedly drawn attention to the disjointed nature of food policy. In most jurisdictions, there is no coherent food policy. Instead, food policy is segmented into other policy areas, such as agriculture, health, and trade. The consequences of this, critical scholarship notes, are far-reaching. We see obesity as a matter of individual lifestyle, rather than a result of environmental factors that include access to healthful foods and opportunities for physical exercise. We see peasant struggles as a failure of “development”, conveniently ignoring the role of agri-food conglomerates in influencing agricultural, environmental and trade policy around the globe.


Because food intersects with so many policy areas, like health, education, land use & regional planning, environment, poverty-reduction, equity & inclusion, and rural & business development, food scholars have highlighted the need for integrated (or systems) thinking, and critical analysis of complex policy environments. Those environments include the social, economic, and political discourses that delineate policy possibilities in any given jurisdiction. This topic aims to gather papers that critically examine food policy environments and the discursive power they carry, as they define priorities and policy boundaries. We are specifically interested in inquiries that delve into material consequences of policy environments on food producers, harvesters, processors, distributors, institutions, and eaters.


This topic call welcomes submissions that use a communication/discourse studies approach to address any aspect of food-related policy and its material implications. Examples of promising policy models, critiques of existing food policy, and explorations of alternative possibilities are all welcome. Themes may include: nutrition, food security, food charity, agricultural supports, agriculture research programs, institutional procurement, municipal food policy councils, food systems research programs, agro-tourism, food literacy/education, and zoning laws. Collectively, the contributions will provide a well-rounded and diverse set of insights into the communicative power of policy in the realm of food. 


Johanna Wilkes (Wilfrid Laurier University) has contributed to the development and coordination of this Research Topic.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

21 August 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

21 August 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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