Food sovereignty is the newest approach building all over the world to achieve the goal long-term food security. Indigenous Food Sovereignty is a specific type of policy with an objective of addressing issues faced by indigenous people and ability to our communities to respond to their needs by adopting and maintain the culturally adapted indigenous foods. The cultural harvesting strategies and practices form the basis of the policy. The policy has been recently introduced to drive the concept of indigenous food that people have had the knowledge, values, and wisdom of indigenous food for decades. Nations originally developed and perfected most of the world known foods like beans, potatoes, berries, fungi and herbs. No compensation or recognition have made to the indigenous communities, an initiative IFS has taken to maintain the cultural practices and values as a way to acknowledging and most importantly providing food security. Land care and food sovereignty is the heart of tribal values of giving and sharing.
The food sovereignty movements have four principles based on and made to continuing and newly establishing the long practiced cultural strategies.The first principle is sacred or divine sovereignty. The principle describes that food is a gift from God and the entitlement to it is sacred which means no institution, policy or laws can deny anyone that right.The principle observes the interdependent relationship between human and land, plants and animals as sources of food and upholds nurturing health as a sacred responsibility. The second principle is participatory which is based on maintaining a daily practice of cultural harvesting. Indigenous food sovereignty is gaoled on emphasizing and ensuring every individual, family, community and region continues to practice the cultural harvesting strategies for the benefit of today and our generation to come. The third principle is self-determination. This principle concentrates on the communities’ abilities to respond to their needs through the health culturally adapted indigenous food and incorporating that with making wise decisions on the amount of food we harvest valuing its quality. The food is harvested either by fishing, hunting, planting or growing. The wise practice of these strategies includes observing land, so it is not destroyed through destructive practices and by getting just enough to allow for availability in future. The policy also requires communities to be able to free themselves from dependence on grocery stores or corporate food in industrialized communities. Lastly is the policy principle. This policy is what indigenous food sovereignty mainly aims to do which is reconciling indigenous food and cultural values with colonial laws together with mainstream economic activities (Grey, S., and Patel, 2015).IFS provides a framework where various policy reforms including forestry, fisheries, and agriculture are restored.
Indigenous food sovereignty involves controlling and managing every factor that contributes to a sustainable food system to provide good enough food to eat with the main focus on indigenous food. Because of IFS, many tribal communities are regaining control over the supply of their food. Federal governments are collaborating with these communities to ensure they retain their cultural rights like hunting and gathering and growing traditional foods and medicines
The Salient features that distinguish it from the Wider Food Sovereignty Movement in Canada
Food sovereignty in Canada means connecting consumption rights to production rights for local consumption.The main concern is accessing land. Corporate ventures like One Earth Farms have taken away family and indigenous lands throughput Canada. About 240,000 acres of these lands have been acquired since 2005 (Martin, S. J., and Andrée,2014).Land prices have gone up to 20% since 2005, and especially those near urban centers and the small-scale farmers are unable to afford the cost to carry out their farming activities for local consumption. The result of re-zoning, development of residential housing among other non-food producing uses have increased operating costs for existing farmers and speculators are increasingly claiming that family farming is not viable economic activity anymore. The Canadian food sovereignty is concerned about health and involving people in making decisions on the policies governing their food.
The indigenous food sovereignty requires the community to have freedom from the dependence of commercialized and imported food while food sovereignty in Canada is not a policy of food sufficiency but a policy of fair trade policies which include paying the true cost of producing food.Freedom from dependence on commercialized foods is not a key principle of Canada’s food sovereignty because the country values the integral part imported food plays in Canada’s diet and economic development contribution. Canada’s Food sovereignty includes enacting fair labor practices, production standards that take care of the environment and developing food systems that respect both the cultural and nutritional needs of the diverse population of Canada. Canada believes this way, a just and sustainable food sovereignty will be created.
Another salient feature is that indigenous food sovereignty aims at reconciling the cultural harvesting strategies and values with the colonial rules and mainstream economic activities whereas Canada employs a multi-sectorial approach by integrating alternative agricultural and food models within the framework of food sovereignty. This is by taking control over agricultural policy, markets, and producing resources. One way they are doing this is training a new generation of farmers through programs like FarmStart in Ontario. These programs are providing new curricula for sustaining farming systems designed to develop agricultural systems which link food production, processing adding value, distributing and sales. Canada still values the new food models and its growing economy, and its focus is not solely on indigenous food sovereignty but creating harmonized approaches accommodating farmers and commercial markets. The framework is involved in building alternative agricultural models that are less environmentally damaging and keeping farmers on the land while also ensuring those living in the cities access healthy and safe food. IFS on the other has a firm stand that the only way to fix our food systems is first tackling the legacy of colonialism and acknowledging the urgency of food sovereignty.The global food crisis is an alarming issue which is exacerbated by destruction of our traditional food sources which can be repaired by going back to acknowledging and reviving out indigenous knowledge and cultural harvesting strategies.
A self-determined food system is developed by values and principles of Indigenous Food Sovereignty. IFS have already had positive impacts on our indigenous communities who are already gaining their farm rights. The aspirations of the indigenous people and communities are being responded around the world, and together the world is on its way to protecting and sustaining local food systems and accordingly food sovereignty. The underlying issue is the fact that people are going hungry in indigenous communities while the knowledge and skills around traditional food practices are already present in our communities. These practices exist in small pockets and opportunities for sharing them area less hence time to share these stories and energise our communities.
Grey, S., & Patel, R. (2015). Food sovereignty as decolonization: some contributions from Indigenous movements to food system and development politics. Agriculture and human values, 32(3), 431-444.
Martin, S. J., & Andrée, P. (2014). From food security to food sovereignty in Canada: Resistance and empowerment in the context of neoliberalism. Globalization and food sovereignty: Global and local change in the new politics of food, 173-198.