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Why Food Sovereignty?

“Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems rather than to make profits for multinational corporations.”

Declaration of Nyéléni, La Via Campesina, Sélingué, Mali, 2007

Cyclical patterns in nature help us to understand the repeated patterns of history. In pursuit of insatiable power and greed, individuals and nations of privilege have exploited, devalued and dehumanised the lands and natural resources of others, seemingly without remorse or reflection. This has led to a prolonged disruption of food economies and food systems.

For example, Tobacco Dock, the venue for the Lush Summit was built 200 years ago as part of the wealthy London Docks, which stored imported commodities such as ivory, spices, coffee and cocoa. These commodities were extracted from countries, economies and people who were, and in many cases still are, undeniably exploited and oppressed. The economic and cultural oppression of these lands eventually compelled people to migrate to the cities of colonial power. In London, poor investment strategies and racism meant that the populations of these areas ended up even more economically deprived.

Tobacco Dock is situated in The Borough of Tower Hamlets - one of the world’s most racially diverse areas, yet still a divided one in terms of access to wealth. It is the same borough that hosts the head offices of major world banks, yet it has the highest proportion of children and pensioners living in poverty in the UK.

The Food Sovereignty Room has been curated in collaboration with Food Sovereignty activists, in particular with those from countries which have been, and still are, victims of internationally unfair systems of food growing, trading and consumption practices in which Britain plays a major part. Many activists, researchers and ordinary people are bringing changes to bear upon how we grow, process and eat our food. Our workshops will bring a sample of these to you.

Deliberate decisions have been made to promote the voices of small producers, food justice activists and local growers. This has been challenging work. We have found that the factors underlying poverty are hidden, systemic and difficult to uproot.

Nevertheless, the creators of this space have risen to the challenge of giving these people and stories priority over the white, male, middle-class voices we usually hear, in the hope of bringing you a glimpse into how and what our food systems are made up of.

Photograph courtesy of Global Justice Now.

Our collaborators are

Community Centred Knowledge

May Project Gardens

Tower Hamlets Food Growing Network

Organic Lea

Abundance Sheffield

3 Acres and a Cow

Global Justice Now

Empty Cages Design

Kirsti Davies

Temujen Gunawardena

Reece Thompson

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