What is Food Security?
Food security exists when ALL members of our community have access to enough nutritious, safe, ecologically sustainable, and culturally appropriate food at all times.
Two commonly used definitions of food security come from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA):
- Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.
- Food security for a household means access by all members at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. Food security includes at a minimum the ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, and an assured ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways (that is, without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging, stealing, or other coping strategies).
From Food Secure Canada
Locally, food sovereignty begins with policies to support the sustenance economy: land use, water access, transportation, processing infrastructure, skill-building for both producers and consumers, recovery of traditional knowledge and foodways. To give only a few examples: Policies in institutions and workplaces can move towards food sovereignty by replacing the products of the industrial food system with locally and sustainably produced foods.
Municipal policies can provide incentives for people to grow food in urban and suburban backyards. School boards can ensure that students learn about food systems and gain food preparation skills. Provinces can support training and certification for organic farmers and remove the regulations and privileges currently enjoyed by factory farming. They can ensure that development does not interfere with Indigenous access to traditional food-gathering territories. They can also ensure that the minimum wage is adequate for people to live on.
At the Federal and international level, food sovereignty policies reject the privatization and commodification of seeds, foods, land and water, along with technological manipulation of plants, animals and other life forms which insert novel, inadeqately tested and privately owned elements into the environment. In order to ensure livelihoods for peasants, artisanal fisherpeople, forest dwellers, nomadic herders, and indeed urban gardeners, trade regimes are based on the priority of the local community’s needs for sustenance before foods are used as trade commodities.
Building on community self-reliance – people and communities producing food for themselves – food sovereignty policy rejects everything that hinders that central goal, whether it is contamination of land or water, patenting of traditional knowledge, dumping foodstuffs (perhaps in the name of aid) below the costs of local production, or lack of access to the territories communities need to produce or harvest food.
In other words, the key elements of food sovereignty are local autonomy, international solidarity, respect for traditional knowledge and the integrity of the natural world. At every level, from the personal to the global, people can advocate and implement policies that move towards food sovereignty.