How to be a food sovereign citizen
We have finished our month dedicated to Food Sovereignty and we want to emphasize the importance of continuing to educate the general public about the importance of this right and partly our duty to want to exercise it in a more conscious way.
First of all, we were clearly based on the definition of Via Campesina that treats food sovereignty as “the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems”.
This concept arises for this organization in the World Food Summit of 1996 as an alternative or response to neoliberal policies, pointing out the disastrous consequences for emerging and also developed countries the lack of access to these sustainable foods. Since then, both the NGOs and international institutions such as the FAO and the United Nations are taking it more and more into consideration when dealing with issues that have to do with trade policies, the environment and the fight against hunger.
Until recently, only the concept of food security was discussed, focusing on the availability of food, so that food sovereignty goes further, emphasizing the importance of how they are produced and what their origin is, and stresses that cheap foods really weakens the local producer and the rural communities around the world.
Could the entire world population be fed only with organic agriculture? Where is our freedom as citizens if we can not choose products because of their origin? To what extent are we sovereign if healthy food is inaccessible for part of the population?
All these questions and many more came from the public when we explained the principles of Food Sovereignty. We can’t really know what the world's development would have been like without organic agriculture, since although it has created cheap food, it has also generated inequalities between rich and poor, and we don’t always have access to safe food because of preservatives, pesticides, hormones and GMOs (genetically modified organisms) that were introduced into our food during generations of development. Starting from the basis that there is control over these external changes in agriculture and livestock - we couldn’t ask for less from our Health Ministries - it isn’t enough to talk about natural productions and therefore its impact on the environment is undeniable.
Yes it could feed the entire world population with organic agriculture, but today is insufficient and therefore consume organic is something that the many working classes can’t afford. And that is where we enter into the great contradiction of having cardiovascular diseases linked to obesity by cheap food in rich countries and diseases related to malnutrition in poor countries. Neither the average American nor the last citizen of Niger can be defined today as "food sovereigns".
The consumers can begin to exercise this right. Choose in our shopping cart our way of life, rewarding organic agriculture and livestock to get out of the vicious circle of high prices by democratizing ecological production and as much as possible buying locally and with the least number of intermediaries.
If so much we must favor local production why we have so many products from other continents? In our month of Food Sovereignty, this is what we repeat the most: coffee, tea and cocoa are produced in developing countries and mainly in tropical areas. In European lands you can’t grow this type of products, which in turn are an intrinsic part of our culture and create an interdependence with the producing countries. Food Sovereignty in this case is done through Fair Trade as a tool that helps these producers to have more freedom.
It’s clear that it isn’t the same to choose between fruit that is produced in the region and fruit that is produced on the other side of the world and enters our supermarket shelves at a cheap price under export dumping, with deciding whether a consumer has to buy a cheap coffee from a multinational or an ethical coffee without intermediaries.
The price is sometimes the differential factor that is usually taken into account, but remember what people say: cheap can be costly and with current business relationships, even more.