The Call for Food Sovereignty

A resolution written by the newly created U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance begins with the statement …

“…over a half-century ago, Mahatma Gandhi led a multitude of Indians to the sea to make salt—in defiance of the British Empire’s monopoly on this resource critical to people’s diet. The action catalyzed the fragmented movement for Indian independence and was the beginning of the end for Britain’s rule over India. The act of “making salt” has since been repeated many times in many forms by people’s movements seeking liberation, justice and sovereignty: Cesar Chavez, Nelson Mandela, and the Zapatistas are just a few of the most prominent examples. Our food movement— one that spans the globe—seeks food sovereignty from the monopolies that dominate our food systems with the complicity of our governments. We are powerful, creative, committed and diverse. It is our time to make salt.”

A thousand activists representing family farms, and environmental, faith-based,  anti-hunger and poverty groups met recently in New Orleans to create the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance. The Alliance reminds us that “misguided policies and the recent sharp rise in food prices have left one billion people around the world facing hunger and food insecurity.” They state that volatility in the financial system puts many people the U.S. at risk as well, and they call for a movement to fix our broken food system.

The recent announcement by the Walmart Corporation that they intend to invest in sustainable agriculture and local food systems might worry some of us interested in food sovereignty.  I wrote about my own concerns recently.

Peter Rossett, speaking at Mt. Holyoke College this week reported that “the only real solution to helping small farmers, he said, lies in the concept of food sovereignty, a term first coined by a movement called La Via Campesina, or The Farmers’ Way – a grassroots coalition of small farmers, peasants, rural workers and indigenous communities in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe.”

For students interested in understanding this global problem for which sustainable agriculture is the solution, check out our program at UMass.

And to be kept informed about local activities, join the Facebook group Just Food Now in Western Massachusetts.

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