Food Sovereignty

"[...] It's not enough for a community to have access to food. It's equally important to understand where that food came from and at what cost. A culture's social stability is at stake. Both the United States and the European Union heavily subsidize food that's exported to countries in the Global South. These goods enter the market with an unfair advantage [...] It is here where the challenge of food security becomes of of food sovereignty, a community's right to decide how they're fed." - Douglas Gayeton

While many barriers stand in the face of food sovereignty, there are many tools to work with. Antonio of Civil Eats shares with us the difference between food security and food sovereignty, and the tools that we have to work with to make food sovereignty a reality.

Food sovereignty isn’t just a concept, it’s a movement. Coined in 1993 by La Via Campesina (“The Peasant’s Way”), food sovereignty encompasses a community’s right to decide how they’re fed. This movement stands on the foundation of these “simple-yet-revolutionary” principles.

Raj Patel discusses the food fight and the connection between food sovereignty and democracy. Raw Deal shows us how dirty the food fight can get, while American Indian Mothers demonstrates the importance of agricultural heritage and food sovereignty, no matter what the obstacles may be.

We speak with Vandana Shiva about the necessity of seed sovereignty amidst the battle for food sovereignty and what it means to resilient farming and agricultural heritage. We wrap up this week with a tour of the agricultural heritage of Mexico and learn how radical women are leading by example.

This week's terms

Food Security

"Food Security is having consistent year round access to safe, local, affordable and culturally appropriate food that is grown, raised, produced and moved about in manners that are responsible to the environment while reflecting a consumption of natural resources that is equitable with a view to our offspring seven generations from now." - Erika Allen, West Garfield Park, Chicago, IL

Food Sovereignty

Coined in 1993 by La Via Campesina (“The Peasant’s Way”), food sovereignty is a community’s right to decide how they’re fed. “You can certainly have food security under dictatorship, but you can’t have food sovereignty,” Raj Patel. “You need democracy for food sovereignty to happen. Food sovereignty is a deep and expansive idea that unfortunately we see too little of. Food sovereignty requires discussion. It takes putting people around the table, with meetings to figure out water and food are shared, and how hunger is eradicated. It looks a lot like a bunch of food policy councils. It looks a lot like kids learning at school where their food comes from. It looks like a food system free from agricultural subsidies and free from the marketing that agriculture is allowed to employ on our children. 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.”


The patterns and practices of growing food are constantly adapting to time, place, and local culture, but the ways of growing are informed by heritage.

Seed Sovereignty

Seed sovereignty reclaims seeds and biodiversity as commons and public good. The farmer's rights to breed and exchange diverse open source seeds which can be saved and which are not patented, genetically modified, owned or controlled by emerging seed giants.

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