What Is Democratic Management for Localized Food Systems？Lessons from a Case in France
This paper starts by reviewing literature to clarify which are the conditions of "democratic" management of a food system and why the activities in a food system have to be managed democratically. GI systems rely on multi-scale levels of governance: micro, meso, national and international. We look at a case in France (the” Lucques du Languedoc” table olives labelled under Protected Denomination of Origin) and scrutinize this example in light of democratic management. We focus first inside the GI scheme, on the structural functions that ensure democratic management; and then outside, on the interactions with excluded actors and the recruitment of new members. We show that the GI governance at “meso” level, i.e. the Inter-Professional body, plays important roles in terms of coordination, in capacity strengthening services, and in representing the producers’ and the product’s interests at higher regulation levels. The discussion establishes a comparison with other countries that have more recently introduced GI protection under different political contexts (Vietnam Brazil and Japan). Lessons are drawn from the comparison with this case in France. We conclude that because of their decentralized dimension and versatile mechanisms, GIs can either empower local groups or be inserted in large corporate strategies.