Food sovereignty, pandemics, and public health
Food sovereignty means having control over where our food comes from and how it’s grown. It means being able to build strong, connected local food systems with accountability and mutual support between growers, distributers, and eaters. As supply chains are disrupted and eaters face supermarket chaos, current events highlight just how necessary food sovereignty is for food security in the short- and long-term.
More than that, food sovereignty means being able to build food systems that protect the health of people and animals. Pandemics like the current one are not unrelated to globalised industrial food systems. They are closely related in some complex ways, including through intensive animal operations which increase the risk of zoonotic diseases, the expansion of industrial agriculture into previously wild habitats and the increasing incorporation of wild species into capitalist commodity chains.
While we’re staying home and staying safe, it is a good time to also learn about these roots of the current crisis – read a good summary here, and hear Rob Wallace’s excellent explanation here. Wallace also delves into the issues more deeply in Big Farms Make Big Flu.
It is also a time for Australia to re-evaluate what kind of economic and agricultural systems we want and how to build them. Times of crisis are inevitably times of change – either to adapt and continue business as usual, or to make a transformation.
Let’s make our response to this a transformational one.
Farmers’ markets, CSAs, local veg box schemes and food hubs are all sources for buying from your local farmers. Most farmers’ markets are still operating, while many farmers and coops also have direct online order options – now is the time to be buying from them! Here’s where to find them:
Open Food Network: https://openfoodnetwork.org.au/
Australian Farmers Markets Association Markets – nation-wide: https://farmersmarkets.org.au/find-a-market/
Victorian Famers’ Markets: https://www.vfma.org.au/
NSW Farmers’ Markets: https://www.fmansw.org.au/
CSAs near you: http://www.csanetworkausnz.org/csa-near-you.html
AFSA wants to make sure that eaters know where to find their local farmers during this period. We are compiling an updated list of growers with online direct order/farmers’ market options for eaters, so we can share your food with our audience, and will be sharing these options through all of our channels.
We are also pooling strategies and working with other organisations to look at outlets for those with excess produce or lost market channels. Please list your details in the form here so that we can share.Please feel free to share this with your audiences and communities so that we can expand our growers’ directory – AFSA is working to support all growers and eaters during this time, as our aim is to make sure all Australians can assert their right to nourishing and culturally appropriate food produced and distributed in ecologically sound and ethical ways, and their right to collectively determine their own food and agriculture systems.
We understand that some growers have chosen to forego markets or change their production schedules in order to protect their families’ health, and that others have received an influx of new orders in recent days.
You can still provide your details if you are not currently taking orders, or if you are waitlisting new customers. You can change this information as circumstances change and we will update the directory accordingly.
We have also received information about several farmers’ markets closing due to local council or organiser decisions, and we are working to address this with state and local governments so that farmers’ markets can continue as needed, as an essential service to their communities.
If this has happened in your area and you are concerned, we suggest discussing with organisers and representatives directly to ensure your community has access to local food through markets taking appropriate safety measures, and to contact AFSA at email@example.com if you would like support on this.
To support discussions on ensuring market safety, you can find the Australian Farmers’ Markets Association resources on market safety, including recommended COVID-19 precautions here.
Meanwhile, if you are thinking of moving online or want to share experiences with other farmers around current events, Open Food Network are running a series of webinars for growers here.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org you have questions, to let us know what is happening in your area, or if you need support.