Food sovereignty is a term used to describe a fairly young movement that gives the people the right to define their own food system. In other words, you cut out the middlemen, no more regulators and lawyer. The idea is to allow the people to have complete freedom over the food they consume, and it’s becoming an ever-popular idea with the spread of knowledge regarding GMOs. At the center of food sovereignty are the people that produce and consume the food, not the corporations that sell it and the demands of the market. The hope is to prevent a domination of the global food market by the corporations such as Monsanto, whose CEO, Hugh Grant, admittedly won’t eat the food his company produces himself and neither will several “in-the-know” employees, according to GM Watch. The people are the key decision makers in food sovereignty. They get to decide what is safe to eat, advocated by a number of organic farmers and environmental organizations to aid in producing healthy food through sustainable methods.
Photo By Andres Rodriguez/Fotolia
Most recently, small town Sedgwick, Maine, declared food sovereignty by passing legislation that gives town members the right to grow and eat their own local food without government intervention:
“The town unanimously passed an ordinance giving its citizens the right "to produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing. This includes raw milk, locally slaughtered meats, and just about anything else you can imagine. It's also a decided bucking of state and federal laws.”
In February 2007, approximately 500 delegates from more than 80 countries adopted the Declaration of Nyéléni, which is simply a declaration of food sovereignty or independence. In 2011, more than 400 individuals from 34 different European Countries and other representatives from civil organizations began a dialog to develop a European food sovereignty movement. Since then European gatherings and actions have continued to call for greener, safer agricultural practices in Europe. In July 2012, 2,500 dairy farmers descended on Westminster to express their outrage at the six companies that control 93 percent of the UK’s dairy processing and have, as they see it, too much power.
So what does this means to you?
According to World Development Movement, the 6 pillars of food sovereignty include:
- The right to food that is healthy and culturally appropriate.
- Increased value to food providers, including small farmers.
- Localizing food systems and strengthening communities.
- Puts control over territory, land, grazing, water, seeds, livestock and fish populations locally.
- Calls for research to support the development of agricultural knowledge and skills.
- Protecting the environment by avoiding energy-intensive industrial agricultural methods.
In other words, you and your community would be the decision makers when it comes to your food and they can’t throw you off your land for mining or any other purpose. With food sovereignty, you get to choose if there are GMOs, antibiotics and aspartame in your milk, and other additives in your food. Raw milk providers wouldn’t be the victims to any more government farm raids, putting an end to the violence, marginalization, and racism from corporate landowners and governments. Most importantly, food sovereignty strengthens local communities and involvement in an environmentally responsible manner.
What’s the downside?
Personally, I don’t see a downside, but I’m also not a corporate farmer either. Proponents claim that food security is an issue and communities will suffer lower nutrition as food will be scarce and less diverse. However, time and again we have seen contrary evidence of flourishing food sovereign communities, we’ve seen small farming communities fail when introduced to corporate agricultural practices, and we are now seeing that the food these communities are eating, in fact, has a higher nutrient content than that of corporate agriculture mass producers. We do not need Big Ag any more than we need GMOs to feed the population because the truth of the matter is, it isn’t sustainable.
Kate Hunter enjoys organic gardening, whole food cooking, crafting, making natural products, and following up on politics and the latest health food news. After changing her major from art to biology to English, she finally obtained a B.A. in English with an emphasis on writing from Southern Oregon University and has been writing about nutrition, healthy living, cooking, and gardening for over nine years. Kate is a published author both online and in print and has owned, operated, and published a literary journal. She is a mother of three, speaks sarcasm, some Spanish, but mostly English and spends her time baking, taking pictures, canning, growing and drying herbs, reading, selling natural products and homemade crafts in her Etsy store HomemadeByKate, and checking food labels of course.