What is 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.”


This global peasant movement, unites people to fight injustice in the food system. By fighting for women’s rights and against land grabs and the spread of GMOs, La Via Campesina have defined the struggle for food sovereignty.

Food security is a goal while food sovereignty describes how to get there. They differ in some key ways.

  • Food sovereignty is rooted in grassroots food movements.
  • Food sovereignty highlights the need for a democratic food system, one that involves inputs from citizens as well as producers.
  • Food security is concerned with the protection and distribution of existing food systems.

Seven Pillars of Food Sovereignty

The first six pillars were developed at the International Forum for Food Sovereignty in Nyéléni, Mali, in 2007.  The seventh pillar – Food is Sacred – was added by members of the Indigenous Circle during the People’s Food Policy process.

  1. Focuses on Food for People
      Puts people’s need for food at the centre of policies
      Insists that food is more than just a commodity
  2. Builds Knowledge and Skills
      Builds on traditional knowledge
      Uses research to support and pass this knowledge to future generations
      Rejects technologies that undermine or contaminate local food systems
  3. Works with Nature
      Optimizes the contributions of ecosystems
      Improves resilience
  4. Values Food Providers
      Supports sustainable livelihoods
      Respects the work of all food providers
  5. Localizes Food Systems
      Reduces distance between food providers and consumers
      Rejects dumping and inappropriate food aid
      Resists dependency on remote and unaccountable corporations
  6. Puts Control Locally
      Places control in the hands of local food providers
      Recognizes the need to inhabit and to share territories
      Rejects the privatization of natural resources
  7. Food is Sacred
      Recognizes that food is a gift of life, and not to be squandered
      Asserts that food cannot  be commodified

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