Food Sovereignty 101: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Did you know that each year eleven million people die because they don’t have access to healthy foods like fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds? Considering we live in a globalized food empire, the fact that this number of individuals are still dying from malnutrition should be a serious concern.

So what went wrong? The problem is that most areas lack food sovereignty. Instead, they rely on expensive shipped food or processed junk food.

But what exactly is food sovereignty? And why is it so important? If you want to know the answers to these questions and more, then you’re in the right place.

In this guide, we’ll give you a crash course on this revolutionary way of eating and sourcing your communities food. Let’s get started!

What Is Food Sovereignty?

Food sovereignty is a term coined by the La Via Campesina at the World Food Summit in 1996. Essentially, the definition of the word states that all people have a right to food that’s both healthy and culturally relevant to their lifestyle.

What’s more, the food should be produced through ecologically sound, sustainable methods that don’t harm the environment. Finally, the people should have the right to define their food systems.

So what does this mean? In essence, food sovereignty treats food as a right, not a trendy commodity. To do this, the policy brings democratization to the food industry.

To fully grasp the concept of food sovereignty it’s important to understand the seven pillars that are essential to the concept. Let’s take a look at them.

  1. Provides Food For the People

It’s important to not view food as a commodity. Instead, we must think of it as life and sustenance. Everyone has a right to good food, not just the wealthy. This needs to be the base of the pillar when it comes to any food sovereignty policy.

  1. Works to Create Knowledge and Skills

Many modern farming technologies work to keep knowledge and skills on how to make food out of the hands of the people. That way we’re reliant on huge conglomerates to feed us.

By passing sustainable farming practices onto future generations we’re ensuring that the knowledge stays alive.

  1. Operates With the Support of Nature

With the increased pressure of global warming, our ecological systems are on the verge of total collapse. Sadly big business agriculture could care less about this problem. As such, proper food sovereignty operates with the support of nature, not against it.

  1. Places Value On Food Providers

Farming and providing food is no easy task. As such, food sovereignty values its local farmers. This isn’t a faceless machine that’s providing you with food to eat. It’s a human being that worked hard so you could enjoy your meal.

  1. Tries to Localize Food Systems

One of the huge problems with the global food industry is the amount of distance that a single piece of food needs to be transporting. This not only makes the food more expensive, but it’s devastating to the environment.

As such, any practical food sovereignty solution must reduce the distance between producer and consumer.

  1. Shifts Control to Local Providers

The more privatized the food industry becomes, the worse it will be for the local community. As such, we need to shift control back to local providers. This means sharing fertile earth in the form of community gardens.

  1. Treats Food As a Sacred Thing

This is a vital tenant, especially in terms of food sovereignty for Indigenous people. Regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs, at the end of the day food is a gift. And, if we don’t treat it like the sacred thing that it is, then we can easily squander it.

Why Is Food Sovereignty Important?

There are a lot of obvious reasons why food sovereignty is important. For one thing, it ensures that no individual will go hungry. It’s also better for the local economy and can even repair huge ecological damage that’s been done to the environment.

However, there are a lot of hidden reasons why it’s vital as well. For example, food sovereignty recognizes that there are layers of discrimination built into the food systems of our world.

While this discrimination can affect anyone, it disproportionately applies to indigenous, women, youth, and LGBTQ farmers. One glaring example of this is the food deserts that affect the Navajo Nation.

Despite this being the most populous reservation in the country there are only ten grocery stores to feed 150,000 people. This level of discrimination is simply unacceptable in this day and age.

As such, food sovereignty is one of the few types of policies that work to combat these hidden problems in both our local and global communities.

What’s the Difference Between Food Sovereignty and Food Security?

Many people confuse food sovereignty with food security, but there are some important distinctions between the two concepts. Food security deals mainly with the people’s right to access food.

It’s not as concerned with how or why the food is sourced. Food sovereignty on the other hand focuses more on producers’ rights.

It also takes a look at the bigger picture, both in terms of potential hidden discrimination and environmental impact. As such, food sovereignty is considered a more holistic approach.

Want More Content? Keep Exploring

We hope this article helped you learn more about food sovereignty and why it’s important. There’s no denying that the global food systems that make things like supermarkets possible are convenient.

But, when that convenience begins to damage both the environment and our communities, then it’s time to rethink the system that provides it. As long as communities take food sovereignty seriously, then it presents a unique solution to this problem.

Did you enjoy this article? If the answer is yes, then you’re in the right place. Keep reading to find more topics that you’re sure to love.

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