Policy, Food and Food Systems 

DR KELLY PARSONS
Post-doctoral Researcher

 

I am a post-doctoral researcher, specialising in food-related policy and food systems. My research interests include food-related policy – past and present; policy integration; policy coherence; food policymaking processes and structures; and systems approaches to food more broadly. I'm interested in food-related policies across the board - nutrition, agriculture, safety, education - and try to come at these from a holistic food systems perspective, drawing on ideas and methods from the disciplines of public policy; political science and sociology.  This blog explains how I do food policy research. 

 

One of my aims is to contribute ideas and tools which support more evidence to be collected on what policies influence food systems, and how they are made.  At the moment there are lots of gaps. For starters, in relation to policies themselves, there are evidence gaps around:

  • What policies influence food systems

  • How effective particular policy interventions are (evaluation is patchy and sometimes we don't know if policies are actually implemented, or what their impact was)

  • How these different policy interventions interact with one another (even more patchy)

  • What food-related policies a particular country or city has in place (few countries have produced either 1) a cross-cutting national food strategy/policy or 2) an inventory of policies related to food). 

And in terms of how policies related to food are made, we need more evidence on:

  • The arrangements (processes and structures) currently in place to connect different ministries and non-government stakeholders on food issues (like crosscutting strategies or committees, or advisory bodies)

  • How those arrangements enable or constrain policy on food systems

  • How policymaking could be organised to take a more connected approach. 

Some of these gaps are tricky to fill (e.g. how policies interact; how effective policies are - if no formal evaluation has been set up), but others (e.g. what policies or processes and structures are currently in place) would be quite easy to fill. At the same time, though there are gaps, there is a lot of existing policy learning around food systems and how policy can make positive change that could be shared, particularly between different countries (cities seem to be much better at this kind of best practice sharing).  

 

This website displays some of the work I have done, organised into different themes related to the role of policy and governance arrangements in food systems.

 

To show how I think the different strands link together, I've also produced an Overview page, organised around the following questions:

  • What are food systems and why are they important?

  • What is the role of policy in food systems?

  • Who makes food policy?

  • How connected are food systems issues in the current policy approach?

  • How can food-related policies be made in a more connected way?

  • What are the food governance mechanisms that could be used to support more holistic policymaking on food systems?

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