The global food system we rely on has a high social and environmental cost and very questionable ethics. Most of us eat unconsciously, completely unaware of where, and how our food is produced. The dominance in our diets of food that is highly processed and dependent on very long supply-chains contributes to an increase in diet-related illnesses, local livelihood loss, and a deteriorating environment.
As the pandemic collides with inequality and the climate emergency, it is clear we need to change our relationship to food, and the farmers and people who produce it. Food is one of our essential needs that we can, and could, restore sovereignty in. Imagine if we produced and consumed food in a way that regenerated soils, secured farmers’ livelihoods and helped us cope better with the uncertainties facing us.
The term ‘Food Sovereignty’ was coined by Via Campesina, the international movement of small farmers and landless peoples, as a response to the dominance of corporate controlled agriculture. It is the principle that we have the fundamental right to choose the food we consume, as well as where and how it is produced and even distributed.
The Open Food Network (OFN) is a growing movement of farmers and community food enterprises working to transform local food systems and building resilient regional food economies. It is now established in 20 countries and the open source, user-owned, digital platform that the OFN maintain enables ethical supply chains and gives us secure ways to source our food directly from local growers and producers.
The OFN global community that steward the development of open and shared digital resources to support grassroots food initiatives is made up of people and organisations deeply involved in permaculture, cooperatives, community supported agriculture and food sovereignty.
Food sovereignty is an invitation to; develop a culture that prioritises our health and wellbeing; create systems that enable us to support farmers growing food in a regenerative way; and develop exchange mechanisms and regional economies that strengthen our resilience to the unpredictability of global markets and a rapidly changing climate.
OFN has emerged as a lifeline for small producers, farmers and local communities and is challenging the current corporate control of the food system. The Open Food Movement is sowing the seeds for resilient local food economies and is connecting eaters and farmers – working together for food sovereignty.
– Written by Davie Philip, the coordinator of the Open Food Hub at Cloughjordan Community Farm, the social enterprise based in the ecosystem of Cloughjordan Ecovillage and sits on the steering circle of Open Food Network Ireland. He is a trainer and facilitator with a focus on community resilience, and Co-President of ECOLISE, the European network for community-led initiatives on climate change and sustainability,