Wheeler del Torro
3 min readFeb 21, 2019

Everything You Need to Know About the Food Justice and Food Sovereignty Movements

Food availability and access for all is becoming a much debated issue in many forums. The issue first took the global stage in 1966 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the International Covenant in Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). They later brought it into force in 1976, but it has not done much to solve the acute problems faced by many people around the world, including those in relation to food.

The latest estimates show that an alarming one billion people around the world are deprived of their right to food due to various reasons. Primary among them is the rampant corruption and political bigotry that is prevalent around the world. Many countries have not respected any of the resolutions that were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and, as such, we the people of the world are still in square one.

Handling with the world’s food problem

It is in this context that the Food Justice and Food Sovereignty Movements were born and are being nurtured today. The Food Justice Movement began as a grassroots initiative to ensure food security and to prevent economic pressures being exerted on anyone to prevent access to nutritious, healthy and culturally accepted and appropriate food for all. It was a formed from the Community Food Security Coalition back in 1966.

The Food Justice Movement advocated for human rights and the equal opportunity for and fair treatment of employees in the production and sale of food. Unfortunately, when the movement started, it got off on the wrong foot and was driven by primarily white Americans. Hence, it had an undertone of racial segregation which did not digest well with some communities. Advocates also tried to bring food production away from corporations and confine it to a community-based production system. This was somewhat tried by the Soviet Union as well.

Similar to the Food Justice Movement, Food Sovereignty tackles another issue that is taking precedence around the world, which is to ensure that the most appropriate food is accessible to its respective peoples. The food produced should be from ecologically friendly and sustainable methods. It seeks to ensure the right for individuals to define the food and the agricultural systems that would suit their cultural and social aspirations.

These are very powerful ideas, but implementing them in a complex world as ours is proving to be quite challenging. We humans are very complex individuals and deviating from the traditional way of doing this is proving difficult. The United Nations has tried a variety of ways for more than half a century and are still struggling, especially in a political cauldron which is always at boiling point on various other unrelated issues.

Today, the ideas of food security and food sovereignty has been accepted universally as something that would need to be closely looked into if we are to find food for the burgeoning world population. However, the big questions to be tackled are how to accomplish these lofty goals and who hold the countries accountable that do not adopt food security policies. We have recently watched this play out with the much hyped “Right to Food” movement under the United Nations Charter, but it has not brought the required benefits envisaged.

The big question in everyone’s mind today is whether it is possible for the Food Justice Movement to do any better. The world would need a more pragmatic approach if we are to see a real improvement, and we have not see proposals for this type of approach yet. Until we are more pragmatic with our approach, it is very unlikely that the movement will get beyond a charity ball to raise funds…but to what end?

Until we set aside our political, economic, social and cultural differences, solutions to global problems will never be found. It is a human trait to find ways to divide ourselves on topics, and searching for better ways to operate our food systems is no different. We would always try to find ways to divide ourselves and till we do that progress on any issue would be confined to paper only.