(June 10, 2014 – Saskatoon, SK) – Eaters (consumers) have the power to help farmers cover production costs and earn a decent income. Each person can “vote” with their food dollar by purchasing from local producers at farmers’ markets, through community-supported agriculture or farmer direct sales.
This was the message from Marcella Pedersen of Cut Knife, SK, Women’s Vice-President of the National Farmers Union (NFU) who met recently with Ontario NFU members in London, Orangeville, Kingston, Renfrew and Ottawa. Pedersen stated, “People understand the concepts of food safety and food security, but few understand the principles of food sovereignty. Food sovereignty is based on local decision-making – farmers deciding what they want to grow and consumers deciding what they want to eat and who they want to buy it from. Right now, corporations are making those decisions for us.”
Pedersen pointed to just three of many changes in the Canadian agri-food environment over the last 20 years. “Four corporations now control 58% of the world’s seed industry, which threatens not only food sovereignty, but biodiversity itself. A few years ago, 20 per cent of our regular diet came from off-shore food imports; today it is 80 per cent. Today, 1 in 7 Canadian children live in poverty and Canadian food banks assist 840,000 Canadians monthly, while many of the farmers who grow our food face insurmountable debt levels,” she asserted. “Our whole food system is broken and insecure, and those at either end of the system – farmers and eaters – experience that reality most intensely.”
“With only 1 to 2 per cent of Canada’s population classed as farmers, it should be no surprise that they are looking to collaborate directly with eaters,” says Pedersen. “Every person can make choices to help build a better food system. Buy as much from local producers as possible. Learn as much as you can about food, farming, trade and democratic process. Support farmer-friendly marketing options like supply management and single desk selling. Work with local community groups or join organizations like the National Farmers Union who are working to build a better food system – one that is grounded in the principles of food sovereignty.”
Backgrounder: “Principles of Food Sovereignty”
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For more information:
Marcella Pedersen, NFU Women’s Vice-President: (306) 398-2795 or (306) 480-2610