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Involving the general public in creation and sharing of knowledge about food

Journal article
Authors Anne Algers
Published in CAB Reviews: Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources
Volume 12
ISSN 1749-8848
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Language en
Keywords Citizen science, Contested areas, Ethics, Food science, Open educational resource
Subject categories Educational Sciences


Research suggests that since the whole society is dependent on the quality of food, food science and education need a dialogue with the citizens. Trust in food is decreasing, the concerns are increasing and the societal needs of knowledge about food are more extensive than what can be accomplished by traditional learning. However, very few approaches have been applied in food science allowing scientists and citizens to inform each other. This paper begins by introducing the concepts of open educational resources (OERs) and citizen science (CS). Secondly, a review of the literature on the use of these approaches in the field of food science is presented. Finally, a rationale is introduced to apply these approaches in contested and complex food issues. A literature review resulted in 14 articles that outline the potential or practical involvement of citizens in production or sharing of knowledge about food. OER can be used to facilitate interaction between different stakeholders within and beyond academia and to collaboratively create more robust knowledge that is shared openly and builds on reuse of prior knowledge. CS can be used to collect and analyse data by members of the general public, typically as part of a collaborative project with scientists. In seven out of eight intervention studies the citizens were heavily involved. The studies focused on: food security, food labelling, food aesthetics, food quality, food & biodiversity and general food science. The arguments presented by the authors extend beyond established reasoning for these approaches (usually limited to access and monitoring of large data sets). This literature review suggests that the involvement of the citizens in knowledge about food through CS and OER is beneficial for information symmetry, empowerment, trust and relevance. When research has led to contradictory results and ethical concerns, it is argued that the involvement of citizens has great potential, because a plurality of opinions can lead to sustainable solutions. © CAB International 2017.

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