FOODITY Citizen Dialogues: Plovdiv Food Fest 2024

We have kicked off our citizen dialogues! This is one of the activities we are carrying out to engage citizens in person and in local communities around key issues for our project—from privacy, sovereignty, and data protection to food, nutrition, and health. For our first citizen dialogue, our partners at JIBE gathered a lot of insight into what everyday citizens think about their food and nutrition data in Bulgaria’s Plovdiv Food Fest, which brought together locals and visitors alike to celebrate food, music, and community.

The event’s main aim was to provide an opportunity for small business owners to showcase their products while providing a space for citizens to enjoy leisure time with food and entertainment. Given the festival’s focus on food, it was an ideal opportunity to introduce FOODITY to the public.

It was organized by the Incubator NGO in collaboration with Plovdiv Food Fest and Plovdiv Stage Park. It was open to all citizens, and no ticket was required for entry. It was held from 30 May to 2 June 2024 and coincided with the National Children’s holiday, which was on June 1st, bringing many families with their young ones. The beautiful summer weather made it a perfect setting for everyone to enjoy food and drinks while sitting on the grass or wooden benches. In the evenings, there was live music, which continued until midnight.

The event attracted a diverse crowd from all over the country and beyond, but mostly locals living in Plovdiv. The stands were filled with small artisan businesses displaying their products, offering everything from sweets and street food to pet food. There were also arts and crafts sections tailored for children and several stands selling clothes and accessories.

The NGO that organised the event had previously worked with the European Commission on projects of their own, and they were very happy to welcome us to the event. We had a dedicated booth where we displayed informative materials and our banner. We also had a striking pink poster promoting our “10 lev for 10 mins” campaign (lev is the Bulgarian currency, which is twice the euro, so 10 lev = 5 euro). This caught a lot of people’s attention, and before we knew it, we had a queue of passers-by lining up to see what it was about, which allowed for many interesting conversations with people of all ages.

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We presented them with our flyers containing detailed information about FOODITY, talked to them about what we were doing, and gathered their opinions via a survey linked in the flyers. Our goal was to collect 100 surveys, and we even got a few extra!

The last question of the survey was: Taking into account your own personal experiences, whether with cooking at home, grocery shopping, or eating out, what would you like to see improved, and how can your personal data help in that?

Many responses highlighted a desire for improvements in the quality and pricing of food products. Some participants expressed uncertainty about how their data could be beneficial, while others emphasized the need for more education and information regarding their food intake.

Most of the reactions we got were very optimistic and surprised about all our developments, particularly from the six FOODITY innovators selected in our first Open Call. However, we were also surprised to learn that barely anyone we talked to knew anything about GDPR or data protection, so we did our best to educate them at the time.

Overall, it was a very positive experience that allowed us to advance important conversations about food and data. We also gathered valuable feedback on public perceptions and knowledge gaps, which we will share with our Open Call beneficiaries as market research.

The insights we gained will be invaluable for us as we continue to develop solutions that empower individuals to take control of their data and promote healthier, more sustainable food systems.

This activity was pivotal in advancing FOODITY’s mission to engage citizens in discussions about food and nutrition data. Learn more about the outcomes of our citizen engagement actions in AustriaPortugal, and Bulgaria.

If you also want to join us in fostering healthier and more sustainable food and nutrition systems apply to our Open Call #2 by 10 July 2024!

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