Food sovereignty

From Le Hub/The Climate Justice Organizing HUB
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

A Growing Culture describes food sovereignty in their organization's vision, as the following: "Healthy, accessible, and culturally appropriate food is a human right. Living wages, living environments, living traditions are human rights. Dignity. Diversity. Culture. All human rights. These are the bedrock of the food sovereignty movement."

The knowledge that follows on this page comes from:

  • A webinar on Indigenous food sovereignty and community led research hosted by Research for the Frontlines, featuring Tiffany Traverse and Waba Moko.
  • An instagram post on abolition and food justice by Rania El Mugammar, artist, abolitionist, social justice educator and consultant.
  • A summary of a literature review on food sovereignty by Marie-Camille Théorêt. You can read their full literature review HERE.
  • There are also several additional resources cited throughout.

  • La Via Campesina definition of food sovereignty focuses on the rights of farmers/consumers and local communities to determine their food systems and control the resources needed to produce (like land, water and seeds). [1] The definition is based on 6 pillars: valuing food providers; localizing food systems; making decisions locally; building knowledge and skills; working with nature. Indigenous peoples added a seventh pillar, which is that food is sacred. [2]

    Within food sovereignty are the concepts of “agroecology” and “food democracy”. Agroecology means practicing agriculture in harmony with the environment and the community. Food democracy refers to the inclusion of public and local participation in food sovereignty projects. [3]

  • Food sovereignty is climate justice

    Abuse of workers 

    • Migrants, including climate migrants, often end up in agriculture jobs plagued with poor working conditions. Migrants are surveilled, criminalized, detained and conditions of their stay are often tied to work permits in these exploitative jobs.-Migrant Workers Rights Canada [4]  
    Abuse of the land
    • Current agricultural practices contribute to 1/3 of global greenhouse emissions. [5]
    • Land around the world has been exhausted by monoculture growing methods which result in a loss of biodiversity. Monocultural methods use tillage to plant crops more frequently, and apply one crop for mass production. Using only one crop increases the need for pesticides. Alternative agro-ecological growing methods do not aggravate the soil and plant several crop varieties to enrich the soil, produce crops with higher nutritional values and reduces the need for pesticides. [6]
    • Land is abused for control and power. For example, Israel’s military prevents Palestinians from using the 20% of Gaza's arable land next to Israel’s militarized fence, and targets Gaza’s farmland with herbicides. A study by Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network explained in 2014 when Israel dropped 21,000 tonnes of explosives on the Gaza strip, it resulted in extensive soil damage and reduced agricultural productivity. [7]
    Colonialism's erasure of Indigenous food systems (and language and cultural practices)
    • Indigenous traditional food systems have been almost erased through government policies. [8] Land theft and displacement paved the way for industrial farming, fishing and food production. [9]
    • Ecocide and food system destruction has been used for power and control (e.g. burning Palestine's Olive tree, extermination of wild buffalo population on Turtle Island) [10]  
    • "With our limitations in the English language, trying to explain how our [Indigenous] language is important to [food sovereignty] work is very difficult... it's because when our ancestors were learning about life around them, that was the language they were speaking, and so their connections between like water and the different ways that water presents itself whether it's melting or over land running... there's all these different words for what that means, and what it means related to the seasons, and related to our overarching calendar." -Tiffany Traverse

    Access to food became a privilege, rather than a right, thanks to capitalism and racism (which also created the climate crisis!)

    • Foraging laws exist because of racism. Foraging for food was integral to black people, free or enslaved. Foraging filled out small meals given to slaves, and finds could be sold as income. When slaves were freed, laws were put in place to curb foraging; thus, people were no longer able to gather food on land they didn't own (including Indigenous Peoples who were removed from their own lands). Hands off conservation was applied to parks as well, further preventing the collection of free food. -Alexis Nikole ('Black Forager') [11]
    • Surveillance technologies are used in food retail to prevent theft. [12] Theft and inflation take the blame for rising food prices, rather than the true culprit; corporate greed.
    • Mutual aid food redistribution is criminalized (e.g. unsold food is thrown away, and those who redistribute it are punished. Giving water to undocumented migrants crossing borders is also criminalized). [13]
    The direct impact of climate change and colonization on Indigenous food systems

    • "We didn't have enough snow this year, so if we didn't have enough snow, we can't go out in the ice and we can't go hunting the Moose... climate change you know... the more warmth we have the more horrible it's going to be for the Moose because we need that coldness for the Moose... the warmer it is the harder it's going to be on the moose for the ticks [problem]... as far as we know." -Waba Moko [14]

    • "Here in so-called British Columbia, just because of the amount of land that's here that is considered "Crown Land"... there's huge amounts of our traditional territories that have now been deemed Crown Land, meaning in theory, the work that we're doing on the land, whether we want to do our traditional burning practices... medicine collecting, hunting, fishing, gathering, seed collecting... it's really fractured on the landscape. So you've got... the reserve, then you've got Crown Land then you've got private land, then you've got another reserve. There's no one government or organization that's managing that land, so... you've got to deal with so many different organizations and government bodies to get anything done and I think that's what's really caused this disruption in our food ways." -Tiffany Traverse [15]
    • "The park system in so-called Canada and in particular in BC has also caused those issues of fracturing of the landscape, you know albeit with good intentions to protect the biodiversity and to protect the animals, the lands, and the waters, it's still removing us from our traditional practices on the land... we're not allowed to hunt there, we're not allowed to fish there... I know there's people that are working together with certain governments to change that... meanwhile in the background the climate and everything else that's happening, the drought, the incredible wildfires that we're having here which is disrupting um plant and animal life on our territories... it's compounding... my main concern and challenge with working on the land is knowing that a large portion of our traditional territory being mismanaged."-Tiffany Traverse [16]  

    Further resources

    • A Growing Culture offers several written and visual resources related to food justice and sovereignty. See for more.
    • Black Forager, on instagram and tiktok, shares videos related to foraging practices.

    If you have any suggested revisions or additional resources to share related to the above content, please email them to

    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

    Back to Homepage

    1. Desmarais, A. A., Claeys, P., & Trauger, A. (Eds.). (2017). Public policies for food sovereignty : social movements and the state (Ser. Routledge studies in food, society and the environment). Routledge, an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group.
    2. Desmarais, A. A., Claeys, P., & Trauger, A. (Eds.). (2017). Public policies for food sovereignty : social movements and the state (Ser. Routledge studies in food, society and the environment). Routledge, an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group.
    5. Climate False Solutions. (2021). Hoodwinked in the hothouse: Resist false solutions to climate change.
    6. Ralph C Martin (2019), Food Security-From Excess to Enough. Dundurn Press.
    8. LaDuke, W. Hoover, E. (2019). Indigenous food sovereignty in the united states : restoring cultural knowledge, protecting environments, and regaining health. (D. A. Mihesuah & E. Hoover, Eds.) (Ser. New directions in native american studies, volume 18). University of Oklahoma Press.