Food Sovereignty – but with details

I know I bang on a lot about food sovereignty on this blog, but it’s not all hot air. I’ve just guest edited a section of The Journal of Peasant Studies (really the most hard-hitting academic journal of its kind) and was lucky enough to pull together some excellent papers and interviews. Although the JPS can get dry in parts, the section I edited was the Grassroots Voices bit, which is intended as a forum and resource for activists. And they’ve decided to make it available free (as opposed to the $100+ individual subscription rate).

Update The section is attached below, or head straight here for the full issue.

‘FOOD SOVEREIGNTY’, Guest Edited by Raj Patel
Grassroots Voices Section, Journal of Peasant Studies, Vol. 36, no. 3

Food sovereignty is the sort of thing one knows when one sees. This is a little
unsatisfactory. The Grassroots Voices Section of the Journal of Peasant Studies (JPS), Vol. 36, No. 3 guest edited by Raj Patel marks an attempt to put a little more flesh on the concept’s bones, beyond the widely agreed notion that food sovereignty isn’t what we have at the moment. Patel offers an analytical discussion on the etymology of the term ‘food sovereignty’. The Section then reproduces the Nye´ le´ni Declaration on Food Sovereignty, which is followed by Hannah Wittman’s interview with Paul Nicholson, one of the leading thinkers in Via Campesina. In this dialogue, Nicholson explains the philosophy of food sovereignty, strongly emphasising its democratic, procedural character. Food sovereignty is not something that can be forged by one person alone, nor, as Nicholson notes, can it be brought about exclusively by peasants, particularly in contexts where peasants form the political and social minority. This is explored further by Christina Schiavoni’s account both of the Nye´ le´ni Forum and the applications of food sovereignty not in rural Africa, but in urban New York City. Asking activists and workers in a range of community gardens about food sovereignty, she points to the rich potential that food sovereignty has for urban contexts in the Global North.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman
adds further nuance and scope to food sovereignty by showing how a group of natural and social scientists who were tasked with tackling the future of global agriculture arrived at conclusions strikingly similar to those articulated by the peasants at the Nye´ le´ni Forum. In recognising the ecological costs of industrial farming and the need for locally flexible policy in order to tackle future food crises, the International Agricultural Assessment of Knowledge, Science, and Technology for Development offers a rich and valuable complement to the political foundations of food sovereignty built by peasant groups. Finally, Rodgers Msachi, Laifolo Dakishoni, and Rachel Bezner Kerr present a concrete case study of moves toward food sovereignty in Malawi. The report of their experiences in developing the Soils, Food, and Healthy Communities project in northern Malawi shows the extent to which food sovereignty is simultaneously about farming technology, democratic policymaking, public health, the environment, and gender, but also how the process of increasing food sovereignty is integral to its achievement. Together, these papers offer practical wisdom and analysis from activists in North America, Europe, and Africa, reminding us of the past contributions to justice and food sovereignty, as well as of the contributions that are yet to come, from the world’s most organic intellectuals.

The full Grassroots Voices on Food Sovereignty, Journal of Peasant Studies, 36(3) can be downloaded for FREE:

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