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Narrative Work

Reframing Food Futures: Overcoming Narrative Barriers to Food Systems Change

Our food system is clearly broken — but it remains difficult to imagine a genuine alternative gaining real traction. Popular and policy discourse remains siloed into a series of disconnected topics, without intuitive links between them, stymieing the strategic thinking and partnerships needed for progress. If we want to create a unified vision of a better food system, one that’s healthy, just, and sustainable, we will need to overcome these barriers. To start this process, we are holding a special workshop in partnership with the Land Workers’ Alliance and Stir to Action on September 15th in Bristol, to begin analysing and attempting to overhaul the narrative barriers that silo the symptoms of dysfunction in our food system.

We will be working on three focus areas where we have identified important barriers in current understanding and opportunities to overcome them:

Food is intimately connected with health, whether of us as individuals, our society or our wider environment. However, the way we think about this connection is dominated currently by a framing that emphasises consumer choice, and places responsibility on the individual over government and business.

How can we overcome this, and find ways of foregrounding framings that speak to individual experience while encouraging systemic understanding of health, nutrition, and climate?
The absurdity of our current system is shown clearly by how the UK no longer grows enough food for itself and millions every week struggle to afford the healthy food they need — but tonnes of edible produce still goes to waste.

How can we best articulate the common roots of these crises, and show the direct  benefits of alternatives?

How could more localised approaches be presented as a credible solution in a truly globalised system?
Our dominant visions of the past and future of food are vastly different, but both play a role in sustaining present injustices. History is depicted as insular, traditional, and exclusive, while future visions are dominated by machine-led industrialisation. 

How might we bring a richer and more accurate view of the past into a more humane, diverse, and progressive future of food and farming?

Over the coming weeks, we intend to develop these areas further, to create the foundation for a successful session in September, and collaborative work beyond. If you are interested in attending the session on September 15, get in touch at

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