Newsletter no 23 – Editorial

Food justice and food sovereignty in USA

Food Sovereignty emerged as La Via Campesina’s bold response to the “free trade” regimes destroying livelihoods around the world. It’s been taken up widely across the Global South by communities reeling from the spread of agrofuels, GMOs, land grabs and the “privatization of everything.”

One reason for food sovereignty’s popularity is because neoliberal globalization has concentrated nearly half the planet’s wealth into the hands of just 80 individuals. Food Sovereignty is the cry of the dispossessed.

Another reason is that food sovereignty reflects the deep resistance of people’s historical struggles against exploitation, oppression and colonization. When communities fighting for their rights discover the principles of food sovereignty, their reaction is often “Yes! That’s what we’re doing!” On the front lines, the common roots of resistance are quickly recognized.

Food justice is one such struggle. The radical roots of food justice in the United States are deep in the movement for Black Liberation. In the 1960s, following on historical traditions of self-care by African American communities, the Black Panthers brought food, health services, housing and education to their neighborhoods—placing them under community control. Food was one plank in a larger platform for liberation: freedom from hunger and police brutality were sovereign rights.

Today’s struggles confront hunger and violence at the intersection of race, class and gender, driving Food Justice to its radical roots of resistance—and toward food sovereignty. In this edition, we share perspectives on the powerful and mutually enriching convergence of food justice and food sovereignty.

Eric Holt-Giménez, Food First