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#FoodCommons: a disruptive narrative and moral compass for human survival

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This presentation explores the multiple meanings of food for human societies, and the dichotomy represented by the hegemonic narrative (food as a commodity) and the emerging counter-hegemonic alternative (food as a commons). I explained the rationale for this shift in value-based narratives: the unsustainability and unfairness of the industrial food system. The transition pathway towards a food commons regime and several policy proposals are also detailed. This presentation summarizes my PhD document "How do people value food? Systematic, heuristic and normative approaches to narratives of transition in food systems" defended at University of Louvain (2017).

Publicado en: Alimentación

#FoodCommons: a disruptive narrative and moral compass for human survival

  1. 1. 1 Dr. JOSE LUIS VIVERO POL Food Systems, Livelihoods & Biodiversity Specialist, Myanmar FOOD COMMONS A disruptive narrative and moral compass for human survival Lecture in Graduate Course on Sustainable Development and Corporate Responsibility, EOI Business School (Madrid, 2 February 2018)
  2. 2. What is Food? Essential for survival (De Schutter & Pistor 2015) Societal determinant (Ellul 1990) Agent of power (Sumner 2011) Commodity (Siegel et al. 2016) Private Good (Samuelson 1954) Public Good (Akram-Lodhi 2013) Commons (Dalla Costa 2007) Human Right (UN 1999) Multiple meanings (Szymanski 2014)
  3. 3. Food has multiple meanings a.- Situated (time, place, knowledge) b.- Phenomenological (meanings depend on the observer and circumstances)
  4. 4. The dominant narrative in industrial food system “FOOD IS A COMMODITY” Thus, the market is the best allocation mechanism
  5. 5. Commodification occurs when the exchangeability of any good, in monetary terms, becomes its most relevant dimension (Appadurai, 1986) Multiple food dimensions superseded by its tradeable dimension 5Photo: Dean Hochman, Flickr
  6. 6. 6 Economic School: reductionist + theoretical
  7. 7. 7 Consideration of food as commodity is social construct that can / shall be reconceived Creative Commons Paradigm Shift
  8. 8. 9
  9. 9. Commons are material / non-material resources, jointly developed and maintained by a community/society and shared according to community-defined rules, because they benefit everyone and are fundamental to society’s wellbeing 10 Photo: ukhvlid, Creative Commons, Flickr
  10. 10. Food system is the greatest driver of Earth transformation • Food systems accounts for 48% of land use • 70% of water use • 33% of total GHG emissions • 40% relies on agriculture for their livelihood • Phosphorus & Nitrogen exceeded Planetary Boundaries (Ivanova et al., 2015, Clapp, 2012) 11
  11. 11. 12 The actual way of producing & eating (western diets & industrial food system) is unsustainable It cannot be maintained for the next 50 years IAASTD (2008) UNEP (2009) UNCTAD (2013)UK Foresight (2011)
  12. 12. The way we produce and eat food will greatly determine the likelihood of human presence on this planet 13
  14. 14. 15 The six food dimensions relevant to humans: multi-dimensional food as commons VS mono-dimensional food as commodity Source: Vivero-Pol (2017).
  15. 15. Food as a commons means revalorising different dimensions relevant to human beings (value-in use) & reducing the commodity dimension (value-in exchange) 16 Food commons are what a society does collectively, through private, state and self- regulated provision, to guarantee everybody eats adequately in quantity and quality everyday
  16. 16. 17 Food is essential for human life… … so access to food cannot be exclusively determined by the purchasing power
  17. 17. 18 The paradoxes of the INDUSTRIAL FOOD SYSTEM Foto: Patty´s Flickr Creative Commons
  18. 18. The food industry is the 2nd biggest: A BIG CAKE (10% GDP & 7 trillion USD in 2016)
  19. 19. 20 815 MILLION HUNGRY PEOPLE
  20. 20. 21
  21. 21. 22 157 million chronically malnourished 19 million severely wasted children HUNGER is largest contributor (35%) to child mortality 1.4 BILLION OVERWEIGHT (300 MILLION OBESE) 2.3 BILLION MALNOURISHED PEOPLE – WE EAT BADLY
  22. 22. 23
  23. 23. 24 EU Food Charity Non universal Non accountable Non demandable No right holders and duty bearers Money-restricted 3.8 Billion € in 7 years
  24. 24. 25 HUNGER IN THE US
  25. 25. 26
  26. 26. 27 Food System Paradoxes FOOD PRODUCERS STAY HUNGRY 815 million hungry people, or more (SPI 2013) 70% are food producers FOOD KILLS PEOPLE Food-related diseases are a primary cause of death (6.5 M deaths per year). FOOD IS (INCREASINGLY) NOT FOR HUMANS 47% of food for human consumption, FOOD IS WASTED 1.3 billion tons end up in the garbage every year (1/3 of global food production) enough to feed 600 million hungry people. Foto: Fringe Hoj Flickr Creative Commons
  27. 27. 28 Only the economic dimension Objectification & commodification of food: Food is a good meant to maximize its utility Every food has a price Maximizing profit not nutrition (value in exchange dissociated from value in use) Food is rival & excludable Economic concept VS political, legal and historical approaches Food access is the main problem Ample consensus in science & policy makers: access is limited by price, law & property
  28. 28. 29 Planetary Boundaries Climate Change Oil Peak Radical change UK Gov IAASTD Business as usual Increase productivity Improve access
  29. 29. 30 The TRANSITION towards a fairer & more sustainable food system needs a different narrative Recognizing & valuing the multiple dimensions of food = FOOD AS A COMMONS
  30. 30. TRANSITION MOVEMENT Contemporary collective actions for food (urban consumers) Alter-hegemonic + gradual
  31. 31. 32 FOOD SOVEREIGNTY Mostly rural food producers (family farms), Valuing multiple dimensions (food is NOT a commodity) Customary commons-based food systems Ideological counter-hegemomic struggle Foto:IanMackenzie Foto:F
  32. 32. 33 If we could imagine a good food system, how would it be?
  33. 33. Social Market Enterprises Supply-demand Food as private good Public Private Collective actions Communities Reciprocity Food as common good Partner State Redistribution Citizens welfare Food as public good Tri-centric Governance of Food Commons Systems Incentives, subsidies, Enabling legal frameworks Limiting privatization of commons Farmers as civil servants Banning food speculation Minimum free food for all citizens Local purchase Rights-based Food banks
  34. 34. Proposals for an EU COMMON FOOD POLICY 35
  35. 35. To guarantee school meals for all students in public schools 36
  36. 36. To support local purchase (small farming, agro- ecology & cooperatives) to satisfy food needs of municipal premises 37
  37. 37. Stricter & innovative rules to avoid food waste To recycle all expired food (i.e. France) Supporting citizens´ collective actions to reduced waste, promote food sharing and co-producing 38
  38. 38. Shifting from charitable food (Food Banks) to food as right (Universal Food Coverage) A food bank network that is universal, accountable, compulsory and not voluntary, random, targeted 39
  39. 39. Compulsory rooftop greening for every new building (with edibles, non-edibles) 40
  40. 40. Establishing bakeries where every citizen can get access to a bread loaf every day (if needed or willing to) 41
  41. 41. Encourage Food Policy Councils (open membership to citizens) through participatory democracies, financial seed capital and enabling laws42
  42. 42. Set target for food provisioning in 2030 (Food Council) • 60% private sector • 25% self-production (collective actions) • 15% state-provisioning (public buildings, destitute people, unemployed families) through Universal Food Coverage 43
  43. 43. 44 Include the Right to Food in Constitution as fundamental right (water as well)
  44. 44. 45 FOOD COMMONS: A Narrative of convergence for customary food systems and contemporary ones
  45. 45. Food shall be valued/ governed as a commons because is vital to individuals & cornerstone of societies. It cannot be left only to markets 46 Shift in the excludability feature: from “can be excluded” to “ought not to be excluded” (O’Neill, 2001)
  46. 46. COMMONING CREATES THE COMMONS Dardot & Laval, 2014
  47. 47. Food as a commons means revalorising different dimensions relevant to human beings (value-in use) & reducing the commodity dimension (value-in exchange) 48
  48. 48. 49 Davis & Dixon (2012) Circa 3000 yrs exploited as a commons…
  49. 49. Montes Veciñais en man común (Spain)
  50. 50. La Partecipanza Agraria de Nonantola • Collective Ownership of Agricultural Land in Emilia Romagna • Almost 1000 years: Carta del 1058 dell’Abate Gotescalco, granting inhabitants of Nonantola the user´s rights over arable land within the municipal territory (now, 760 hectare) • Guiding values: Solidarity, Respect, Identity, Equality. • “Boccas” are raffled every 18 years within descendents still inhabiting Nonantola.
  51. 51. Water Tribunal of Valencia Huertas (one of oldest juridical institutions)
  52. 52. Hazas de la Suerte Vejer de la Frontera (Spain) Two entitlements: cultivate & benefit Established 1288 by King Sancho IV 3500 hectare, 232 allotments, 13,000 inhabitants (raffles yrs per generations)
  53. 53. 54 Territories of Commons 5% of Europe (12 M Ha of utilised agricultural area) More in coastal and forested areas 9% France 25% of Galicia is onwed in communal property Not just private-state duopoly
  54. 54. 55 Re-considering FOOD as a COMMONS may be unattainable but… John Maynard Keynes British economist (1883-1946) “The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones” Marcel Proust French writer (1871-1922) “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands, but in seeing with new eyes”
  55. 55. 56
  56. 56. 57
  57. 57. Chapter 3
  58. 58. Chapter 4
  59. 59. Chapter 5
  60. 60. Chapter 6
  61. 61. 62 I am eager to exchange on “Food as a Commons” Many uncertainties and gaps remain to be developed in a common way combining praxis with normative social constructs @joselviveropol EMAIL: