This track explores how food mediates public engagement with sociotechnical issues, and in turn how public engagement shapes what food has come to be. We ask how policy agendas seek to 'democratize' food systems, while 'disruptive' innovations may spark new forms of public engagement.
Food - its nature, technologies, production systems and nutritional values - is once again receiving much political and public attention. Food innovations are promoted as solutions to global food problems while regularly sparking public controversies about the 'nature' of food. Longstanding issues - whether pesticide use, GMO regulation or fortified food - demonstrate that edible things are not only consumption objects but also mediate public engagement with technology and nature. Indeed, many inventive approaches to public participation have emerged in response to food controversies: from tasting trails to activism 'in the field' to dietary movements. Consumers' refusal to swallow technologically enhanced food is often interpreted as 'lack of trust' in science and regulation. Yet, STS research shows that consumer resistance is also a response to attempts to use food for governing populations, producing 'good citizens' or 'economizing' public relationships with nature. Food innovation is thus shaped by existing ideas of democracy, citizenship, and cultural belonging, and conversely provokes new knowledge ways, subjects and social orders. This track invites explorations into how food mediates public engagement with social, technical and environmental issues, and how in turn public engagement shapes what food has come to be. We seek to interrogate how contemporary policy agendas, like responsible research and innovation or citizens as co-creators, contribute to ideas of further 'democratizing' food systems. Likewise, we inquire how 'disruptive' innovations, such as vertical farming or lab-grown meat, may spark new forms of public engagement with socio-technical challenges, e.g. with climate change or food security.