Many of us take food for granted. If we live in a city or even a small town, we may be used to go to the grocery store to get what we need. The relationship with food (third one to air and water for us to stay alive) has become a commodity: we “need” money to “buy” most of the basic things that sustain our lives…if not all.
This has created a huge problem: when we are not involved in the processes that create what we need most, we become dependent and disempowered: our more basic needs are for sale and in the hands of those who control what, when, where, how and by whom/for whom these goods and processes are made. Decisions are made behind closed doors, access, availability and quality are controlled, systems are changed, manipulated and destroyed and not only our present but also our future are compromised.
We live in an abundant planet, Mother Earth or Pachamama some of the names the planet is known by many aboriginal cultures, has always provided. But the systems we take for granted are fragile and complex: food depends on climate, biodiversity and the health of soils, water sources and ecosystems.
Even if we ignore the big picture, the closer, smaller one is still concerning: many of our current illnesses and disorders (mental and physical, even spiritual) are connected to what we eat, how we eat it and when we eat it. Because food is energy and matter in another shape, we need food to stay alive. The quality and source of our food affects how we feel, think and behave…
If we embrace the socio-economic picture, we see that many of our brothers and sisters don’t have access to the food they need. If we embrace the ecological picture, we see how our “hunger” for power and money is decimating the ecosystems that provide the food for our non-human brothers and sisters, whose lives feed us in so many ways.
No matter how you want to see it (or ignore it), food is the base of most conflicts and challenges, reflects the current power relationships, systems and structures…and also represents our best opportunity to change them into regenerative, just and fulfilling systems, relationships and structures.
Those are the reasons why I, an adult educator and coach by trade, have decided to focus on Food Sovereignty at the individual, family, group and community levels.
I started seriously designing and creating food sovereignty for myself and my family in 2011, after I “saw the matrix”, the intricate network behind what we eat and keeps us alive.
My first reaction was panic and a sense of urgency, so my first focus was my own family and how I would make sure they would be safe in case one of the many connections in the food system was broken or disrupted. That was a very narrow focus, but helped me to remember, explore and re-learn the many traditions to grow, preserve and prepare food.
In 2012, I designed an online course prototype for a program I was taking in e-learning design. The course explored the relationship between Climate Change, biodiversity loss, the current economic system and food security. The focus expanded to include my community and then, all communities because the aim was to develop a system that could be replicated in different regions and scopes (from individual to communities) without being “the solution”. In my exploration of such a system, I discover (and adopted) permaculture.
Unfortunately, and due to lack of funding, the course never became public and the institution where I created (VCC) blocked the access after I graduated from their Adult Education and Online Instructor programs.
Since then, I have taken many other trainings, including Gaia College Urban Permaculture Diploma, Gaia Craft PDC and Advanced Diploma (still in progress) and many short courses on community resilience, ecovillage design.
Since 2013, I have been offering workshops on what I call “food sovereignty” and “food skills” of my own design. These workshops have been presented many times at the South Surrey Food Bank, at Surrey Community Centres, at the now closed Homestead Junction and through UBC-Farm Sustainable Food Systems community workshops.
I was also invited to present at the THESA (Teachers of Home Economics Specialist Association) Conference in 2016.
What is Food Sovereignty?
According to Food Secure Canada and La Via Campesina, Food Sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.
My courses (Food Sovereignty Series) include:
(Note: you can contact me for details to book me for the entire series or one workshop, I also offer presentations about food sovereignty for conferences and symposyums, groups and communities)
- Overview of food sovereignty and what it means for you, your family and community
- Tools to assess the status of your current food sovereignty status
- Design process to create a resilient and sustainable food system for you and your family and resources for those curious to take this challenge to their communities (school, neighbourhood, workplace!)
- Food security in a budget: how to create a six-month supply pantry without going broke
- Growing your own:
- Start with the basics: composting and soil preparation in small spaces
- Water sources and water recycling for food production
- Growing food in containers
- Beyond your home boundaries: sources to produce sustainable food
- Preserving the bounty: saving for rainy days:
- Root cellaring in small spaces
- Dehydrating and freezing, how to, pros and cons
- Creating your own: kitchen stables from scratch:
- Basic cheese
- Cultured vegan cheeses
- Wellness and health:
- Food basics: what to eat, what to buy
- Food safety: keeping and preparing food while minimizing risks for food poisoning
- Preparing healthy meals in a budget
- Mindful eating