Food Sovereignty: another food system is possible

The 23-26 October 2015 saw more than 250 food sovereignty pioneers gather in Hebden Bridge for the second UK Food Sovereignty gathering. Anna Clayton from LESS report’s back.

food sovereignty gathering

 The global Food Sovereignty movement is trying to challenge the current  industrialised food system by re-empowering the many food workers  around the world that grow our food. It aims to place the voice of those  who grow and eat food at the heart of decision making, rather than  leaving it to the market and large profit- driven multinationals.

 The food sovereignty gathering aimed to thrash out, via consensus, a clear action plan for the UK branch of the movement. The gathering also allowed hundreds of food sovereignty pioneers to network, skill share and build on experience from the growing alternative food movement in the UK –  through workshops, debates, film screenings and socials.

It was very inspiring to see the range of projects that are starting to become viral in the UK: community supported bakeries and agriculture projects, seed saving cooperatives, community gardens, farm hack events, community junk food projects, campaigns to support fast food workers, agro-ecology research and the collaborations sprouting between academics and food practitioners.

It was also exciting to see the progress that has been achieved since the last UK food sovereignty gathering in 2012. The Land Workers Alliance has been created to represent smallholder farmers that were previously unrepresented in the UK. Whole Food Action was also launched to involve independent whole-food shops in the movement, and the 2015 gathering was oversubscribed!

However, underlying the whole event was the sobering fact that the UK does not produce all of its food – we currently import around 40%. That many items that UK residents consume on a daily basis and often take for granted are linked to individuals around the world that are under-paid, un-represented and abused. When thinking about food sovereignty it is important to remember that global food seems to have an invisible travel visa but the people producing it don’t.

Rather than replicating movements that are happening elsewhere, the role of the UK within the global food sovereignty movement appears to be one of highlighting the stories of those who cannot come to the UK to share their stories themselves, and for using our privileged position as a major importer of food to respond to global calls of support.

For more information about the Food Sovereignty movement visit Global Justice Now’s website.

Click here to find out more about the 2015 UK Food Sovereignty gathering.

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