By Graciela Romero
The UK food sovereignty movement rallied together over four days during the second national food sovereignty gathering at Hebden Bridge. We gathered to celebrate victories and expand the wave of people determined to build fairer and sustainable food systems
Hundreds of people in the UK had been sowing seeds to bring about radical change of the current industrialised and corporate led food system. Across Britain local food growers from their allotments, landless workers cooperatives and squatters in council states have joined a common cause with the people who eat their food and those who cannot eat healthy food.
They are inspired by the food sovereignty vision of food systems that focus on people while respecting nature: food systems where people have the right to decide how food is produced, distributed and consumed, rather than leaving it to the control of corporations and global financial institutions.
The common struggle to achieve food sovereignty came across loud and clear during all of our 30 workshops and visits to local projects in Hebden Bridge. There was an understanding that as far as people are denied access to land and seeds there will be no chance to build food sovereignty in the UK. People will continue depending on unhealthy food sold by big supermarkets and on food banks. Families who have being denied access to housing and decent incomes, with the rise of austerity measures, will join the numbers of people already facing food poverty. People at the gathering expressed the need to link the struggle for food sovereignty with the one for housing and the workers’ fight for decent working conditions.
Building on the successes achieved by many of its members over the last three years, the UK food sovereignty movement has voted to build a national food policy based on the food sovereignty principles: a national food policy built by people for people. To achieve this, the movement needs to challenge rooted structures of exclusion and oppression. We must include marginalised communities in the UK whatever the reasons may be.
We need to continue building alliances with people fighting for food sovereignty globally. Political and financial decisions in the UK directly impact on people across the globe. This was stressed during the final session of the gathering as one of the representatives from the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa was denied the UK visa on the basis that she might stay in the country. One of the participants expressed: “UK wants sugar, tea and bananas you name it, from other countries, but not their people.”
War on Want alongside many other groups will continue building the UK food sovereignty movement as well as supporting the global struggle ofour partners for the achievement of food sovereignty.