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A People’s Food Policy, Building a resilient movement

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Working towards food sovereignty and justice in our food system[edit]

Throughout England, we have a vibrant and diverse food movement. For years it has been growing, as people develop skills and experience, individual campaigns are fought, connections are made and friendships are kindled. Now is the moment for us to strengthen our relationships, clarify our differences, seize the moment and together build a strong movement for justice in our food system.

Our food system is in a state of crisis, and change is coming, in one form or another. Our task now, our challenge, is to work together in every way we can to make sure that this change moves us towards a future that is just and equitable.

Achieving our vision and building the alternatives we need will require strong, visible and co-ordinated alliance building to maximise our power. We are only going to achieve this by increasing our co-operation and our ability to work together for focused, concrete outcomes. We all need to be involved, from all walks of life, all along the way. Where diverse groups all push together, at the same time, we are more powerful and this is a call for us to unite and to believe in our own agency.

Traditional party politics are failing to provide the democratic accountability we need. As we have noted numerous times in this document, this fragmentary approach is part of the problem; one part cannot see what another is doing, and everyone tries to push the costs onto other sectors, departments and organisations. The crisis in our food system has been documented for decades, and it’s getting continuously worse. Despite the momentous efforts from civil society, communities, grassroots organisations, unions and NGOs, until we are all able to move forwards together, we will be going around in circles while our food system continues to break down around us.

Policies may be put in place by Westminster politicians or by local authorities, but progressive change starts in our communities, on our streets, around our kitchen tables, in our gardens, and on our farms. Now is the pivotal moment for us to come together, build creative and viable alternatives and grow the movement. We act, and we ask others to join us!

We have called this document A People’s Food Policy because we recognise that many more people need to become involved before it is truly ‘The People’s Food Policy’. We need to change the way food policymaking happens in this country so that the people most affected and most marginalised by the current food system are involved in shaping and changing it. To move forward we need to come together to create clearly articulated common positions that we all support and organise around. We need both grassroots action and food policy-making that puts the needs of people at its heart; and we need a unified food policy that is consistent across government departments.

We believe food sovereignty is a framework through which we can achieve the change we need. Emerging from the voices and lived experiences of farmers and food workers all around the world, and supported by civil society, unions, grassroots organisations and NGOs on every continent, no other governance framework provides such a powerful alternative.

Brexit brings with it an historic opportunity to create radical change for the better, and it is our responsibility to seize it. The time has come for us all to join together and to create a food system which is the beating heart of our cultures, our histories, our earth, our communities and our future generations.

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Taking action: where do we go from here?[edit]

By creating this document, we’ve done the job we set out to do. However, we are still at an early stage. The publication of A People’s Food Policy marks the start of a wider process of strategising and taking action, which we need your help to ignite. There are many options for how we can use the positions and proposals laid out in this document, some of which we set out below.

Start talking, debating and planning[edit]

Help us to ensure that A People’s Food Policy continues to be a living, evolving set of ideas and proposals. The positions and proposals laid out in this document are there to be used and elaborated on. How can you use A People’s Food Policy to provoke discussion in your family, amongst your friends, in your local community or in your workplace? Would you be willing to speak about A People’s Food Policy at an event or simply with friends around the kitchen table?

Crowd source ideas[edit]

We had limited time, capacity and funding to create this work, but we hope it is an example of what selforganised members of civil society and grassroots organisations can do when we get together. We recognise that for this work to truly articulate the vast range of our collective experiences, we need more capacity to engage in dialogue with each other more widely. To make sure this is truly a people’s food policy, talk to us, talk to each other. What have we left out? What needs to change?

‘Cut and paste’ policies[edit]

We have published a text-based version that is available to download on our website, so that you can cut and paste policies and further explore, elaborate and develop them in your own campaign documents.

Build alliances[edit]

One of the key intentions in our work is to highlight how our food system could be different if we can move beyond siloed and fragmented policy-making approaches. In this vein, it is imperative that A People’s Food Policy does not operate in isolation. A People’s Food Policy is based on the contributions of over 150 organisations, unions and community groups ideas and many organisations have already endorsed A People’s Food Policy. But we must keep this momentum going, work in collaboration with other policy-changing initiatives in the food movement, and enter into discussion with those who haven’t supported this work to find out where the differences in our positions and ideas are and reconcile them.

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Supporting next steps[edit]

Our work putting together this document and coordinating this project was made possible through generous funding and donations. We now need to secure financial support to disseminate the document, gather together and build a movement around it. In countries such as Brazil, Canada and Scotland comprehensive food policies have been developed by civil society organisations, and are now being developed in collaboration with governments. This has been achieved through political support and access to funds, resources and time.

With funding, we would be able to do the following:

(a) Create a wiki website: we would like to develop the policy into a Wiki-website on a creative commons license, containing links to existing good policies here and around the world, and case studies of good practice.

(b) Print and distribute A People’s Food Policy: we would like to print and distribute as many hard copies of A People’s Food Policy as possible. At the moment, we are only able to do a small print run. With funding we would have the resources to ensure this work is widely available.

(c) Organise a People’s Food Policy Summit: there is nothing like meeting face to face to develop ideas and strategies, and if funding was available we would organise a People’s Food Summit in the Winter of 2017/18 to build the movement and plan our campaign. This would provide a forum at which we could identify and explore issues of contention.

Already a strong movement for justice in our food system is emerging, a movement in which we are all connected, and a movement that has the potential to become very powerful. Let us now join together so that we can turn our vision for a better food system into a reality.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


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Notes and references