Interest in local food has been booming in recent years, even through recession (while sales of organic and fair trade food can take a hit). That maybe tells us that the local food revolution is more than people wanting to know where their food comes from after decades of crumbling crisis amid our dysfunctional food system, from BSE to CJD to Foot and Mouth, Blue Tongue and everything inbetween. What it tells us is that people want to support local producers. This might not (yet) be a reflection of the need for resilient local economies, but it is a start.
But the local food movement has two dangers it needs to address. The first is that it itself can become commodified and re-packaged, just watch McDonald’s efforts to present itself in new adverts or endless attempts by supermarkets to ‘re-profile’ themelves as green. ‘Local’ can become confused, fluffy and meaningless. It needs to retain clarity: local = regional and it needs to situate itself and constantly reassert its position within the wider alter-globalisation movement. The second danger is that it becomes parochial and ends up falling into what researchers have termed ‘the local trap’ whereby anything local is thought to be good without a more developed sense of scale.
To combat these issues the Fife Diet are organising a Food Revolt gathering next month (12 November). The event aims to locate the local food movement in Scotland within the wider global environmental justice movement. With representatives from Via Campesina and food projects from across Europe we’ll be exploring the local food movement in the global context.We start with a series of questions.
How the does the local food movement relate to wider global issues? How does eating local relate to famine, trade, aid and land use? Did the rising price of food stoke the Arab Spring? How do you resist ghost acres, land grabs and hedge funds? How does what we eat relate to climate justice?
We’re delighted to be joined by Juliana Lutz from the Austrian Speise Lokal project, guests from the Zapallao Verde Cooperative in Ecuador, and by Daniel López from Spain, speaking on ‘Food Sovereignty and the Spanish Indignados Movement’.. Daniel López García is member of the Agroecology and Food Sovereignity Area in Ecologistas en Acción, a Confederation of 300 local ecologist groups in Spain. He works as researcher and advisor in Agroecology and Sustainable Rural Development in Spain, developing alternative food supply chains for organic products. He has written a few books and articles about Food Sovereignity Social Movement in Spain and alternative food supply chains, and is the editor for the “Food Sovereignity and Organization” section on “La Fertilidad de la Tierra”, the organic farming’s most important magazine in Spain.
The event builds on the recent Nourish gathering in Govan and will combine a series of practical workshops, lectures and film sessions. For all details and to book your free place go here: http://foodrevolt.eventbrite.com/
We’re also delighted to welcome Stan Blackley from a renewed FOES as our keynote speaker, plus award-winning investigative food journalist Joanna Blythman and Justin Kenrick from Holyrood 350.
Why does this matter? It matters because at the heart of the Occupy movement, the indignados and the associated resistance is a truth about climate justice and food.
As Teresa Martinez has written:
“Most of the ailments of the global food system come down to a disproportionate imbalance between power and governance. Food and agricultural trade is controlled by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which promotes an export-led model of agriculture and the deregulation of the food market. This has favoured big agribusiness companies and retailers, which control most of the production and retail market, leaving small-scale farmers, consumers and some states with little bargaining power and little control over the means of production and the supply chain. In short the result is an undemocratic food system which is not only unable to provide food security for all but is also contributing to increase poverty in both developed and developing countries”
This is about food and power, creating leverage to change the reality that:
- Ten corporations control 80% of the global agrochemical market.
- Ten companies control 31% of the seed market and four agribusinesses (Syngenta, Du Pont, Monsanto and Bayer) control almost 100% of the transgenic (GM) seed market.
- Four supermarkets (Tesco, Asda/Wal-mart, Sainsbury and Somerfield) control 75% of UK food retailing.
- Six processors (Arla/Express, Dairy Crest, Robert Wiseman, Glanbia, Associated Co-operative Creameries and Nestle) control 93% of UK dairy processing and six supermarkets control 65% of liquid milk sales.
- Just two companies Rank Hovis (part of Tomkins PLC) and Archer Daniels Midland Milling account for more than 50% of bread flour milled in the UK.
- In 1960 small independent retailers had a 60% share of the food retail market. By 2000, their share was reduced to 6%.
If you want to join the local food revolution, come to Food Revolt.
12 NOVEMBER 2011, KINGHORN, FIFE, SCOTLAND
More details here: http://foodrevolt.eventbrite.com/
Your post in Food Revolt is indeed interesting. You made me realize mo many things like how the local food business responds and adapts to the wider global issues. Really great!