Definition of Food Sovereignty

Definition of Food Sovereignty

You can certainly have food security under dictatorship, but you can’t have food sovereignty. You need democracy for food sovereignty to happen. Food sovereignty requires discussion. It takes putting people around the table, with meetings to figure out how water and food are shared, and how hunger is eradicated. Most of all, it’s characterized by conversations around hunger, poverty, and community. Those kinds of conversations are happening from Detroit to Oakland and that’s something to be celebrated.

This has been a powerful global term, but I think there have been some major misunderstandings that are even neglected by the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance. First, it's a term that's come from farmers (campesinas), to primarily address, (at least at root,) their farm-side concerns. We might speak of "farm sovereignty," but food is a primary concern of these farmers, as, for example, 80% of the globally "undernourished" are rural, mostly farmers. Food Sovereignty is most commonly thought to mean local or regional control (i.e. sovereignty). In fact, however, there's another side to food sovereignty, as emphasized by La Via Campesina: macro market management, meaning management of farm prices and supplies. (I plan to add terms related to this, such as "supply management" and "Price Floor"). This other side of Food Sovereignty was quickly recognized by the U.S. "Family Farm Movement," which has long worked on these issues. (Cf. http://thecontributor.com/food-sovereignty-government-intervention-view-...) By the way, some of the history of this in the U.S. is almost always unknown to the Food Movement, even to authors writing about farm bill history. The U.S. government strongly supported the macro side of Food Sovereignty, at least in the sense of setting what were essentially living wage farm prices, from about 1942-1952. This came out of the New Deal and the work of the Democratic Party. Prices (Price Floors) were then reduced, more and more (1953-1995) and then ended, (1996-2018, like no minimum wage at all). Progressive Democrats fought back with the Harkin-Gephardt Farm Bill of the 1980s and 1990s.

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