Food democracy: foodstuffs according to their democratic value

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Update: we won the competition!

This is a contribution to Memefest 21013 Food Democracy competition in collaboration with Miha Mazzini. Food democracy generally means more involved citizen participation in food production and supply chain, but here we have a different take on the topic. In Miha’s words, taken from the project form:

Describe your idea and concept of your work in relation to the festival outlines:

Brain has developed as an organ to help us fill the stomach. A lonely stomach hunting and gathering in the savannah has less chance to survive than a group of them, so the societies have developed.

So, the content of the stomachs must mirror the structure of the society – what are the preferred foods for authoritarian regimes and what for democracies?

We took all of the recipes from Food.com and democracy indexes of The Economist and Wikipedia; we linked national cooking recipes with the countries, split recipes into ingredients and added democracy indexes to them.

What kind of communication approach do you use?
Spoof scientific report on real data.

What are in your opinion concrete benefits to the society because of your communication?

To see have very sweet life in democracy really is.

What did you personally learn from creating your submitted work?

Person should choose their restaurant even more carefully than the country.

Why is your work, GOOD communication WORK?

It’s fun getting some food for thought.

Launch the interactive visualization.

Food democracy network
Food democracy network

More details below.

Main idea:
To range foodstuffs according to their democratic value, if such exists.

Data sources:
Allrecipes.com and food.com were crawled and structured information (ingredients, national provenience, …) extracted from individual recipe pages (~150,000 of them).
Economist Intelligence Unit for democracy indices of individual countries.

Construction:
A network (graph in math parlance) was constructed such that each recipe’s country was associated with one of four main nodes, which represent four democracy groups: authoritarian (0-2.5 on EIU scale), poor (2.5 – 5 on EIU scale), good (5 – 7.5 on EIU scale) and democratic (7.5 – 10 on EIU scale). Then the recipe ingredients were connected to one of these groups. Finally, ForceAtlas2 algorithm was run on the network, producing the result you see in the visualization.

Tools:
Java for crawling the net and original graph construction, Gephi for graph processing and original visualization, sigma.js for web presentation.

Authors:
Miha Mazzini (concept), Marko Plahuta (concept and programming / visualization / web presentation)

What we really found:
That the freshest, most unprocessed food is apparently very undemocratic, which is a side effect of poor countries usually not having a democratic form of government.

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