This paper explores county/city food policy councils in the United States through the lens of deliberative democracy. Food policy councils are emergent institutions operating in an advisory capacity to city/county government. Scholars claim that food policy councils are a primary means by which to allow input from citizens who have been marginalized by our current global industrial food system. The question remains as to whether or not food policy councils do in fact democratize the food system. The question of who participates on food policy councils is examined through case studies of five food policy councils in the United States. Findings indicate that a small number of lay stakeholders are represented on food policy councils but they are not inclusive of the diversity of people who are affected daily by the food system. The paper concludes with a preliminary framework for food policy councils.
Keywords: Citizen engagement, collaborative governance, deliberative democracy, food policy councils