ABSTRACT

Food sovereignty is a growing, vibrant discourse in food justice. International organizations such as La Vía Campesina connect hundreds of local food sovereignty groups all over the world; food sovereignty as a concept has been included in the Ecuadorian and Venezuelan constitutions; and it has gained increasing currency among academics. However, food sovereignty has its critics. Some argue that the movement, which addresses a wide variety of environmental and social ills, is too diverse to be sensibly described as being about food. Activists respond in part that due to certain characteristics of food, truly reforming the food system without addressing these wider issues is impossible. Further, certain characteristics of food allow it to act as a central boundary object, making it an ideal candidate to provide a frame with which to address a wide range of injustices. Food sovereignty, they argue, must push toward a radical re-imagining of society. Another objection arises in response to this view. Some worry that these connections between food and wider issues might only be natural ones to make for the rural subsistence food producers who started the food sovereignty movement; food sovereignty as it is pursued by activists may be less salient for other peoples in other places. If this is right, then food sovereignty may be an effective social movement in some contexts, but it would not be as promising a candidate for a global movement as it is purported to be.