Food sovereignty means that a community has the authority to determine the origin, the quality and the standards of the food that they consume. The term became popularized in the 1990s with the La Via Campensino movement, a movement started by farmers around the world bringing the difficulties of farming to the forefront. This global protest of small-scale farmers from acknowledging their inability to make a living wage under the status quo, found its way into every-day dialogue. From the early La Via Campesino movement to now, the concept of food sovereignty has evolved beyond farming rights, and now includes community rights to the food that is purchased and consumed. This means that communities have the ability to define standards for how their food is produced, the conditions that those farming their foods face, and the policies surrounding food production.
How food sovereignty fits into the conversation in Lithonia is already being constructed by local residents. It is unique to this community because it addresses needs of the residents. For instance, theAction Not Words group has Ujima community garden is a teaching garden that serves to educate and empower residents on growing practices. It was developed to address a need for knowledge surrounding growing practices, but doubles as a space for active dialogue and sometimes yoga. On October 5th, the Ujima Community garden project collaborated with the Georgia Farmer’s Market Association and several Lithonia residents to construct raised beds; an elevated platform where vegetables and other plants can grow. This site is one of three within Lithonia that has received the beds in an effort to foster a local food awareness. You can follow what the Action Not Words is growing at the Ujima Community Garden by liking them on Facebook.
The Lithonia Farmers Market was brought about to address the disparity in accessing fresh, local foods. At the market, shoppers have a direct link to the producer of their food and can get the details on what goes into the production of the foods that they purchase. The community has expressed a value in seeing the producers of their food, and being able to interact with them regularly. In this way, producers and shoppers can connect over the one topic that fundamentally ties us all together: our food.
Other needs that are actively being addressed is a desire for heritage cooking courses, where the community can explore a history of food dishes and traditions that can preserve the flavors we enjoy while emphasizing nutrition and health. There is also an ongoing conversation about how we can make quality produce accessible for everyone. Quality food should not be income dependent and this community is exercising the right increasing access to these foods as we speak. The Lithonia Farmers Market is currently seeking to fill the Market Manager position. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Join the conversation by offering your feedback on the Lithonia Farmers Market survey, and enter the drawing to win a wonderful fall gift basket! You can fill out a survey online by visiting the Lithonia Farmers Market Facebook page, or speak to the market’s staff at OktoberFest this weekend in the Lithonia Park form 1P-6P.
The Lithonia community has the power to direct the conversation of food sovereignty as it sees fit. If there is an expectation surrounding the food you and your family are consuming, there are many avenues that you can explore to have it addressed. It is your food, and you have the right to expect that it meets your needs.