Most of our food systems are dominated by international markets. If we do not address the fundamental structural flaw of treating food only as a commodity rather than seeing multiple dimensions of food, we miss a huge opportunity to build resiliency that requires us to approach food as a commons. We want to emphasise that food is not just agriculture! It is land food, and fisheries, and forest-food when we are doing it right.
The food market is complex and difficult to change as it is a strongly embedded system with many transnational ties. While the individual can change behaviour to establish their own ecological relationship to food and community, the real onus is on governments to help create systemic change in the way food is produced, traded, and distributed to people.
How can you make a difference?
- Ask your neighbors if they need help getting or paying for groceries.
- Support local food producers as often as possible. Shop at local farmer’s markets and small chain grocery stores…. less or more thoughtful meat consumption, local diets
- Grow your own food in your garden or on your balcony
- Create a local farmer union (thinking back to the power of farm worker organizing in the 60s)
- Buy/Join a CSA
- Participate in democratizing food systems — start a buying club or join one on Open Food Network
|Local and Municipal||Federal & Provincial/State|
|Basic income and unions for local farmers||Ban CAFOs (link does not include uncomfortable imagery)|
|Make space for regional farmers’ markets; include activities for families and local producers to make this an enticing and interesting place for families to frequent||Change laws that ‘exceptionalize’ farm workers, for example farm workers don’t qualify for overtime pay after 40 hours the way other hourly workers do|
|Provide entrepreneurial start-up funding and incubation hubs for technology, social services, food services, and physical goods. Make affordable space for start-ups, creative hubs for artists, and sponsor locally relevant events to showcase this work||Scale taxation system so local food sellers and producers pay very little tax while national and mulit-national chains pay much more (such as McDonalds)|
|Eliminate barriers for local food production and selling – allow community members to make their own foods and beverages to trade with others||Remove state control on alcohol and marajuana consumption, production, and sale to create a strong market of local small-scale brewers and growers|
|Support appellation control to link products to landscapes||Changing zoning and permitting policies to enable small-scale agriculture and food production|
|Incentivize growing food in people’s lawns. Work on rezoning policies where needed.||Treat farmers and food providers like Health Care providers and ensure a basic food box for all|
Allies, Related Resources, and E4A Publications
- Thunder Bay and Area Food Policy Council response to COVID-19
- Uneven Earth Green New Deal Series: Food
- The Case for Studying Non-Market Food Systems by Sam Bliss
- Community gardens as Essential Services
- Txoko – Basque Cooking Club
- World Food Secuirty Letter by Dr. Jenn Clapp in response to COVID-19
- Soul Fire Farm – Take Action
- Chapter: Reframing Food as a Commons in Canada: Learning from Customary and Contemporary Indigenous Food Initiatives that Reflect a Normative Shift
- Bowles, Timothy M., Maria Mooshammer, Yvonne Socolar, Francisco Calderón, Michel A. Cavigelli, Steve W. Culman, William Deen, et al. 2020. “Long-Term Evidence Shows That Crop-Rotation Diversification Increases Agricultural Resilience to Adverse Growing Conditions in North America.” One Earth 2 (3): 284–93. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.oneear.2020.02.007.
Change in Action
While not all of these projects direction involve E4A, they are great examples of diverse examples of socio-ecological change in action.
- Belo Horizonte’s municipal approach to food security and food sovereignty
- Lyla June Johnston’s work on recovering Indigenous food systems and related work
- Cross Country Pilgrimage Routes getting kids to rural areas and building personal relationships with farmers