We sometimes hear the expression “we are what we eat”. However simple it may sound, it holds a great deal of truth when it comes to analysing not only the global food system, but also our personal one. Our well-being and state of health can be influenced, among other factors, by the vegetables, fruits, proteins or dairy products that we consume. But what happens when we do not actually know for sure what we consume? How can we be in control of our food’s quality?
In the international community there has been an ongoing talk about food safety and about people’s right to have all the necessary nutritious foods available for their healthy development. In 1966, at the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the participatory states formulated the so-called “right to food”, which was defined as “the fundamental right to freedom from hunger”. However, the problem of hunger is still a pressing and (re)current topic in the economic, social and political discourse.
According to data provided by the United Nations, at a global level we produce food to be enough for 12 billion people. Still, a significant part of food that is available to all of us is unhealthy, the distribution is not made properly and the production mechanisms affect, among others, the local producers. In a society where big corporations influence the “production, processing, distribution, marketing and retailing of food”, there are initiatives that fight for their right to stay in control of what they eat. The biggest international movement that militates for the “right to food” is La Via Campesina, which gathers farmers, agricultural workers, consumers and activists.
The movement gave birth to the concept of “food sovereignty”. As defined by “Food Sovereignty: A Right For All, Political Statement of the NGO/CSO Forum for Food Sovereignty“, which took place in Rome in June 2002, food sovereignty is “the right of peoples, communities, and countries to define their own agricultural, labor, fishing, food and land policies, which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate to their unique circumstances. It includes the true right to food and to produce food, which means that all people have the right to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food and to food-producing resources and the ability to sustain themselves and their societies.” Food sovereignty is based on six pillars:
· It focuses on food for people
· It values food providers
· It localizes food systems
· It puts control locally
· It builds knowledge and skills in agriculture
· It works with nature
Following such principles could help improving the global food system, give local and regional food production the chance to develop and give people more access to healthy products. If you are interested in finding out more about food sovereignty, you can start by taking a look at your own food system and identify the sources of your food. You might actually realise that there is a lot of room for improving the quality of what you eat.
by Roxana Nica