Food Sovereignty – the new narrative for positive change?

Today I want to write about food sovereignty. Almost all of the pressing world issues can be related back to food. I feel it could serve as the narrative which unites the many problems that face not only humanity, but the planet which supports us. The latter consideration might seem a bit idealistic, even altruistic. However any issues which impact the environment will inevitably wind up facing humanity – so if we approach this from a selfish mindset, so be it.

For a long time I used the term ‘food sovereignty’ interchangeably with ‘food security’, wrongly so. Food security was defined at the 1996 World Food Summit to “exist when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”

While I believe the idea of everyone having access to adequate nutrition is a great start, I feel this definition is inherently one-dimensional. It also reeks of neo-liberal consumerism, paying no heed to the future, let alone the plethora of different issues we face right now of equal or more importance than meeting people’s “food preferences for an active and healthy life”

‘Food sovereignty’ takes a more multidimensional approach to addressing a much larger discussion. It holds that people have the right to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and the right to define their own food and agriculture systems. In essence, food security fits within the linear ‘take-make-waste’ economy, while food sovereignty can be applied to the rapidly emerging alternative – the circular economy.

In pictures, you could say that food security holds that food is this:

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While food sovereignty sees it as this (yup, that’s my backyard):

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What we eat and the way we eat has so many threads which weave into the socio-economic and environmental fabric of our lives. The story of food reveals so many points in the corporate food system that which expose entire industries which needs redesigning.

The production of food – Transportation – Storage – Wholesaling – Marketing – Retailing – Preparation – Consumption – Disposal of food.

The last of these is no less important to the first and, indeed, is intrinsically linked. The Why Waste compost collection was started because it absolutely had to happen. Before Why Waste, Bay of Plenty businesses had no choice but to send their biodegradable waste to landfill. If you’d like to read about the compost collection, check out our website, however disposal is but one of many crucial threads in the story of our food. The Why Waste project aims to contribute to the wider sociocultural and economic changes we need to make in order to continue to live on this planet.

Stay tuned to hear about the Rock Garden Papamoa, a multi-acre guerrilla garden we’re helping transition into a community hub for knowledge and nutrition. Feel free to like or share this post, hit up Why Waste on Facebook to keep up to date with great news on positive change.