Increasing Food Sovereignty Through Grassroots Efforts, Part I

At least in the United States, it is not a problem to find some sort of sustenance. All along the main roads of any American town and city we find an ample supply of fast food establishments and casual restaurants. On my way to work every morning I find myself tempted by the alluring aromas of some sort of sausage, cheese, and egg sandwich from three different eateries. I love the egg and cheese, especially together, as many other Americans apparently do given how common the combination is on breakfast sandwiches.

But, I am not writing this essay to talk about how lovely egg and cheese are together, but instead about something else that we should think more seriously about as we do make decisions on what food we will consume each day. Where does this egg and cheese come from? The egg, presumably, comes from a chicken and the cheese, well, we are not really sure. It just does not seem like real cheese. It could be that cheese product, cheeses not primarily derived from dairy. Either way, we should wonder: what are we eating and where is it coming from?

Outside of knowing the egg likely came from a chicken, we still are not sure where exactly that chicken lives. Maybe that does not matter much to some, but also knowing the exact location of the chicken is not the only point. Understanding, not just knowing, where we are getting the food we eat is important because it creates a stronger connection to the nourishment our bodies crave. When we become more informed consumers and we begin to think more critically about the food itself, we create an expectation that may simultaneously develop accountability and responsibility both for us as the consumers and those who produce.

This is important because we should have the right to know what we are eating, which also includes where it comes from and how it is raised, grown, and/or harvested. Having an appropriate understanding of this information means that we may make better decisions that fit our lifestyles and interests, but it also increases our individual sovereignty and sense of liberties. As a nation full of citizens eager to protect freedom, the movement to promote food sovereignty and liberation makes sense. It is gaining some traction, but not as much as one might think.

Although there may be a number of solutions, a good place for many of them to start is at the local level. Increasing local interest in what we eat is a very important component of success. To do this, local organizations may develop specific programming that meets the needs of the communities serviced. Some of the more successful grassroots movements include education programs in both K-12 and adult education, involvement with a farmer's market, and even a seeds program. Grassroots movements are empowering forces that increase individual freedoms through education, outreach, and unity. There are a number of community and nonprofit organizations with the mission of increasing knowledge and understanding about relevant food issues. If you have not done so already, then I highly recommend you do a little research and determine whether there are ways to become involved in food security and sovereignty in your community.