Why Food Sovereignty Matters

Written by Renmart Buhay, a Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology student. His interests lie in the intersectionality of social and environmental injustices.

When we look at the current climate change talks in Canada, it seems that fossil fuels and pipelines headline these discussions. A lot of these talks often neglect the interdependence of oil and the food systems that our societies rely on. I think that if we are going to have meaningful discussions about climate change, we need to take into account all of the factors interconnected with this issue, such as the global food system. On the flip side, food waste, scarcity and insecurity are rising issues affecting people all over the world. Here in BC, more and more families are affected by poverty, relying on food through welfare and donors. To mitigate the impacts of climate change and food insecurity, it is pertinent that we become more aware of the impacts of our choices and actions as consumers in the global food system.

Why does this matter?

As our current food system stands, its dependence on oil is essentially contributing to the impacts of climate change. This is important since research shows that one third of all green house gas emissions come from the global food system. Our agricultural sector specifically contributes to green house gas emissions by releasing methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) through animal production, food transportation, pesticides and fertilizers, agricultural soil and manure maintenance. Also, our agriculture sector contributes about 10% of Canada’s green house gas emissions without taking into account off farm factors. On the other side of this issue, as consumers, our habits regarding the food we choose to buy and throw out is impacting both our environment and the people in our local and global community.


What can we do?

I think we can learn something from La Via Campesina, which is the global farmer’s movement that advocates for food sovereignty. Food sovereignty is defined by the movement as the peoples right to “healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods.” Some of the movements goals include growing food through localized small farms, moving away from fertilizers and pesticides, and having food production focused for local consumers rather than distant consumers.

I think movements like this are impactful since it advocates for both the environment and people. It advocates for social justice and tackles the right to fare waging, working condition and treatment of the farmers, agricultural workers, fishers and indigenous people who rely on the rely on the food they grow to live and thrive in their communities. We can sometimes forget the human side of the global food system and I think that needs to change. As consumers we have the power to say no to the practises of big corporations and instead we can support our local farmers. Equally as important we can address social inequality issues like food insecurity by addressing and advocating for positive change for these issues. Current talks about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) already show that as a society we have concerns about our food systems. However, I think that as a society once we shift our discussion from GMOs to food sovereignty we can start to make critical steps to address food insecurity and climate change.

SFU students I encourage you this week to find some ways to implement food sovereignty in your food choices! 

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