Food Movements Unite

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* Book: Food Movements Unite! Ed. by Eric Holt-Giménez and Annie Shattuck. Food First, 2011.



"Food Movements Unite! is the sequel to Food Rebellions and provides a sector by sector road map for bringing the tremendous transformative potential of the world’s food movements together into a powerful transnational force capable of ending the injustices that cause hunger."


"Strategies to transform our food systems

The present corporate food regime dominating the planet’s food systems is environmentally destructive, financially volatile and socially unjust. Though the regime’s contributions to the planet’s four-fold food-fuel-finance and climate crises are well documented, the “solutions” advanced by our national and global institutions reinforce the same destructive technological path, the same global market fundamentalism, and the same unregulated consolidation of corporate power in the food system that brought us the crisis in the first place.

A dynamic global food movement has risen up in the face of this sustained corporate assault on our food systems. Around the world, local food justice activists have taken back pieces of the food system through local gardening, organic farming, community-supported agriculture, farmers markets, and locally-owned processing and retail operations. Food sovereignty advocates have organized locally and internationally for land reform, the end of destructive free trade agreements, and support for family farmers, women and peasants. Protests against—and viable alternatives to—the expansion of GMOs, agrofuels, land grabs and the oligopolistic control of our food, are growing everywhere every day, giving the impression that food movements are literally “breaking through the asphalt” of a reified corporate food regime.

The social and political convergence of the “practitioners” and “advocates” in these food movements is also well underway, as evidenced by the growing trend in local-regional food policy councils in the US, coalitions for food sovereignty spreading across Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe, and the increasing attention to practical-political solutions to the food crisis appearing in academic literature and the popular media. The global food movement springs from strong commitments to food justice, food democracy and food sovereignty on the part of thousands of farmers unions, consumer groups, faith-based, civil society and community organizations across the urban-rural and north-south divides of our food systems. This magnificent “movement of movements” is widespread, highly diverse, refreshingly creative—and politically amorphous.

Many publications point to the hopeful initiatives in food production-processing-distribution and consumption; and many analyses unpack and identify the structural impediments to a fair and sustainable food system. However, there has been little strategic reflection on just how to get from where we are: a broad but marginalized collection of hopeful alternatives—to where we need to be: the norm. Unfortunately, social, environmental and economic visions of what a good food system should look like are rarely accompanied by a clear political vision of how to roll back the corporate food regime and rollout the transformation of the world’s food system.

Food Movements Unite! will be a collection of essays by food movement leaders from around the world that all seek to answer the perennial political question: What is to be done? The answers—from the multiple perspectives of community food security a, peasants and family farm leaders, labor activists, and leading food systems analysts—will lay out convergent strategies for the fair, sustainable, and democratic transformation of our food systems. Authors will address the corporate food regime head on, arguing persuasively not only for specific changes to the way our food is produced, processed, distributed and consumed, but specifying how these changes may come about, politically." (


Raj Patel (Stuffed and Starved) Introduction: The Burning Questions of Our Movement

Paul Nicholson (Vía Campesina) on strategies for advancing food sovereignty;

Jun Borras (Journal of Peasant Studies) on transformative, redistributive land reform;

George Naylor and Ben Burkett (National Family Farm Coalition) on strategies for the socio-economic transformation of US agriculture;

Olivier De Schutter (UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food) on strategies based on the right to food;

Hans Rudolph Herren (Milliennium Institute) on the International Assessment on Agriculture Knowledge Science and Technology for Development

Tom Phillipot (Grist) on the US Farm Bill;

Jeffrey Moyer (Rodale Institute) on the organic transformation of US agriculture;

La Donna Redmond (Graffiti & Grub) on the food movement from hippies to hip hop;

Rosalinda Guillén (United Farm Workers), Lucas Benitez and Gerardo Reyes-Chavez (Coalition of Immokalee Workers) on transforming farm labor;

Harriet Friedman (Toronto Food Policy Council) transforming local food systems;

David Bacon (Illegal People) on immigration and labor rights in the food system;

Bu Nygrens (Veritable Vegetable) on the challenge of fair food, food justice and wholesale operations;

Ken Meter (Crossroads Institute) on the economic reconstruction of rural communities;

Will and Erica Allen (Growing Power) on the transformation of urban food systems in underserved communities;

Brahm Ahmadi (People’s Grocery) and Anim Steele (Boston Food Project) on the political challenges of the food justice movement;

Walden Bello and Shalmali Guttal (Focus on the Global South); on strategies for transforming the global economic and financial structures of our food systems;

Tabara Ndiaye and Mariame Ouattara (New Field Foundation) on rural women creating food security in west Africa;

Diamantino Nnampossa (Mozambique Farmers Union) on the importance of farmer’s movements and food sovereignty for transformative change in Africa;

Javier Montagut and Esther Vivas (Xarxa Solidari) on the transformation of food trading systems in Europe;

Carlo Petrini and Josh Viertel (Slow Food) on how the movement “good clean and fair” food can help their allies transform the food system;

Miguel Altieri (SOCLA/UC Berkeley) on the agroecological transformation of Latin American farming systems;

Jennifer Johns (Power of One Hip-Hop) on the rule of art and culture in the transformation of the food system;

Tom Goldtooth and Simone Senogles, Indigenous Environmental Network, on Food Sovereignty for First Nations people in Norht America;

Molly Anderson (CFSC) and Flavio Valente (FIAN), on the Right to Food wordlwide;

Miriam Nobre (World March of Women) on Strategies of Convergence;

Christopher Bacon (UC Berkeley) on Fair Trade Movements for Transformation;

Roland Bunch (Two Ears of Corn) on the challenges of agrarian movements and sustainable development;

John Wilson (Participatory Land Use Management—PELUM Africa) on sustainable agriculture and farmer’s movements in Africa;

Eric Holt-Giménez (Food First) Conclusion: What is to be Done?


Brian Tokar:

"As other contributors to this volume have demonstrated an impressive variety of local and regional efforts throughout the US and other developed countries promote local food, facilitate direct purchases from farmers, and further the goal of community-based food security. Many of these activities, however, take place in the background of a fashionable localism that is often skewed toward affluent consumers who often embrace local food as part of a high-consumption “green” lifestyle that at best offers only a pale challenge to destructive patterns of conspicuous consumption. “Green” consumerism is often driven by corporations that embrace environmental themes in their advertising and public relations, while contributing to the destruction of communities and ecosystems. These include corporations such as Coca-Cola, whose president recently told The Guardian that the company expected that “as much as 70% of future advertising would have an environmental focus” (Wintour, 2009).

Visionary activists, farmers and organizers around the world, however, are reaching far beyond the fashions of “green consumerism” and introducing models of solidarity and mutual aid that resonate well with the messages of climate justice. For example, neighborhood activists in Hartford, Connecticut brought an assertive community organizing model into efforts to alleviate hunger, and developed a comprehensive urban food system. They brought community gardens and farmers markets into inner city neighborhoods and developed active working relationships between publicly funded nutrition programs and nearby farms (Winne, 2008). Organizations in many other US cities and towns have followed suit. ...

In his book, The Green Collar Economy, Van Jones recounts an interview with Brahm Ahmadi, executive director of the People’s Grocery in Oakland, California, which has also developed community gardens and a two acre farm. “Food is our medium for achieving broader outcomes in community development and public health and addressing disparities in opportunities and quality of life,” Ahmadi explains.

He continues:

We chose food as our tool because it’s intimate and universal, regardless of the differences in culture or personal preferences… From there we connect the dots to the structural and systemic issues of the food system: considering the global environmental footprint of food production, how far food travels, and equity issues related to farmworkers and the struggles of small farmers … connecting those to the struggles of low income consumers (Jones, 2008: 130-31).

In all such cases, solidarity is key. Ultimately, climate justice demands a far higher level of solidarity with people around the world than many in the global North are accustomed to exercising, either in their daily lives or their political choices. The increasingly catastrophic climate disruptions that today mainly impact people in the tropics and subtropics are slowly beginning to be felt throughout the world. More than ever, our ability to continue to thrive as humans depends on radically transforming our social and economic systems. The reality is too urgent, and the outlook far too bleak, to settle for anything less. Perhaps more than any previous time in human history, the disruption of the earth’s climate systems compels us to begin to realize our vision of a dramatically different kind of world." (

More Information

  • Concepts:
  1. Food Sovereignty
  2. Land Sovereignty