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Food Sovereignty: Reconnecting Food, Nature and Community

Food Sovereignty: Reconnecting Food, Nature and Community

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Published by Fernwood Publishing
An excerpt of Fernwood's Fall 2010 book Food Sovereignty.
Advocating a practical, radical change to the way much of our food system currently operates, this book argues that food sovereignty is the means to achieving a system that will provide for the food needs of all people while respecting the principles of environmental sustainability, local empowerment and agrarian citizenship. The current high input, industrialized, market-driven food system fails on all these counts. The UN-endorsed goal of food security is becoming increasingly distant as indicated by the growing levels of hunger in the world, especially among marginalized populations in both the North and South. The authors of this book describe the recent emergence and the parameters of an alternative system, food sovereignty, that puts the levers of food control in the hands of those who are both hungry and produce the world's food – peasants and family farmers, not corporate executives. As the authors show in both conceptual and case study terms, food sovereignty promises not only increased production of food, but also food that is safe, food that reaches those who are in the most need, and agricultural practises that respect the earth.
An excerpt of Fernwood's Fall 2010 book Food Sovereignty.
Advocating a practical, radical change to the way much of our food system currently operates, this book argues that food sovereignty is the means to achieving a system that will provide for the food needs of all people while respecting the principles of environmental sustainability, local empowerment and agrarian citizenship. The current high input, industrialized, market-driven food system fails on all these counts. The UN-endorsed goal of food security is becoming increasingly distant as indicated by the growing levels of hunger in the world, especially among marginalized populations in both the North and South. The authors of this book describe the recent emergence and the parameters of an alternative system, food sovereignty, that puts the levers of food control in the hands of those who are both hungry and produce the world's food – peasants and family farmers, not corporate executives. As the authors show in both conceptual and case study terms, food sovereignty promises not only increased production of food, but also food that is safe, food that reaches those who are in the most need, and agricultural practises that respect the earth.

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Published by: Fernwood Publishing on Sep 14, 2010
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The Origins & Potentialof Food Sovereignty
Hannah Wittman, Annette Desmarais & Nettie Wiebe
 T
he global food crisis of 2007–08, marked by skyrockeing food prices, urbanfood rios and he coninued displacemen of he rural poor, was a clear indica-ion ha he dominan model of agriculural developmen has no succeeded ineradicaing povery or world hunger. In desperaion, in Haii, Bangladesh, Egyp, Wes and Cenral Africa and counless oher locaions, hundreds of housands of people ook o he srees demanding aordable food. Behind hese highly visibleevens lurks he very real and ongoing human suering caused by he lack of hakey necessiy for all human life — food. e suned growh and high moraliy raes of hungry children and he ill healh and los poenial of malnourished adulsare clear and ragic resuls of he chronic food shorages suered by an increasingnumber of people. A growing number of households and communiies fear foromorrow’s meals, even hough here may be enough food for oday. And even forhose of us whose cupboards are well socked and who have adequae incomes opay our grocery bills, here are grounds for unease abou he conen, safey andorigins of our food and he long-erm susainabiliy of our food sysem. Hence, hesecuriy, cos, safey and nuriion of food and he fuure of food producion iself are everyone’s concern. While he sudden spike in prices sparked he headlines dur-ing he 2007–2008 food crisis, he problems in he global food sysem are complex and deep-seaed. e food sysem’s vulnerabiliies, from climae change o loss of  biodiversiy o securiy of supplies, are becoming more apparen. e global foodcrisis is deepening. Wha are he possible soluions o his crisis?Some proponens of neoliberal globalizaion would have us believe ha hecrisis is he resul of shorages and marke failures. ey assure us ha he bes way o keep up wih a growing populaion is o preven naional governmens from in-ervening in he marke, focus on scienic high-ech approaches, increase produc-ion wih he adopion of geneically modied seeds (
gmo
s) and furher liberalizeagriculure and food. Bu despie having powerful advocaes and enforcers, suchas he World Bank, he Inernaional Moneary Fund (
imf
) and he World TradeOrganizaion (
 wto
) on side, hese soluions reveal a specacular failure when icomes o reducing povery and eradicaing hunger. e mos recen gures fromhe Food and Agriculure Organizaion (
fao
) of he Unied Naions indicaeha he ranks of he hungry are coninuing o swell and now encompass more
 
2 Food Sovereignty
han one billion people, an increase of over 25 percen in he number of people wihou enough food since he mid 1990s (
fao
1999, 2009), when he neoliberaldevelopmen projec was in a phase of full implemenaion.As an alernaive o he neoliberal model, peasans, small-scale farmers, farm workers and indigenous communiies organized in he ransnaional agrarianmovemen La Vía Campesina (2008a) argue ha he curren, and linked, food,economic and environmenal crises are in fac he direc resul of decades of de-srucive economic policies based on he globalizaion of a neoliberal, indusrial,capial-inensive and corporae-led model of agriculure. La Vía Campesina, formedin 1993 and now represening 148 organizaions from sixy-nine counries, has become one of he sronges voices of radical opposiion o he globalizaion of an indusrial and neoliberal model of agriculure, claiming ha “he ime for foodsovereigny has come.”Peasan movemens, urban-based social movemens, non-governmenalorganizaions (
ngo
s) and indigenous peoples have been insrumenal in putingfood sovereigny on he agenda, and consequenly, hey have succeeded in shiinghe erms of he debae around food, agriculure and rural developmen a he lo-cal, naional and inernaional levels. Because food sovereigny aims o ransformdominan forces, including hose relaed o poliics, economics, gender, he envi-ronmen and social organizaion, here will, no doub, be a long and hard sruggleo see food sovereigny become he sandard model for food producion and ruraldevelopmen. is book conribues o his sruggle by engaging in a conversaionha idenies and expands he meanings, undersandings and implicaions of foodsovereigny in an inernaional conex.
Initiating the Food Sovereignty Concept
Food sovereigny as a concep evolved from he experience of, and criical analysis by, farming peoples, hose mos immediaely aeced by changes in naional andinernaional agriculural policy inroduced hroughou he 1980s and early 1990s.e resuls of he inclusion of agriculure in he General Agreemen on Taris andTrade (
ga
) negoiaions, ariculaed in he
 wto
 , brough ino sharp relief com-muniies’ widespread loss of conrol over food markes, environmens, land andrural culures. e erm “food sovereigny” was coined o recognize he poliicaland economic power dimension inheren in he food and agriculure debae ando ake a pro-acive sance by naming i. Food sovereigny, broadly dened as herigh of naions and peoples o conrol heir own food sysems, including heirown markes, producion modes, food culures and environmens, has emergedas a criical alernaive o he dominan neoliberal model for agriculure and rade.La Vía Campesina (1996a) rs discussed food sovereigny a is SecondInernaional Conference, held on April 18–21, 1996, in Tlaxcala, Mexico. Peasanand farm leaders who gahered here no longer saw poenial in he concep of “foodsecuriy” o ensure local access o culurally appropriae and nuriious food. In

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