Recipes and cookbooks constitute a normative subculture with informal structures of participation and “enforcement”. Along with other factors (religious norms, medical doctrines, natural resources etc.) they regulate a central aspect of human life that proved to be inaccessible to direct governmental intervention. Sometimes governments promote the distribution of recipes and use them as a kind of “nudge” (Cass Sunstein/Richard Thaler) in order to influence choices in a way that improves the eating habits of the population.
In pre-modern societies recipes and cookbooks enabled persons excluded from the political and legal process to participate in the regulation of daily life. With good cause they serve today as a metaphor for crowdsourcing in the digital age. If “legal crowdsourcing” gives ordinary citizens the chance to cooperate and come up with innovative new policies, it could perhaps help to restore legitimacy by creating more positive attitudes toward the political system.