Are you ready to become a food citizen? A food what…?

2020. There’s something about this year. It feels like it’s going to be a big one. It feels like there’s been a shift. An awakening as such. Or is that only me who feels that way?

In Australia, we started the year in such a horrific way. Bushfires have ravaged through our beautiful country and left us devastated by grief, mourning the loss of people, wildlife, insects, homes, trees, farms, animals, memories and livelihoods. 

These bushfires, precipitated by alarmingly record high temperatures and ongoing drought, were a climate-induced disaster. One of the many extreme weather events that have been long predicted due to our changing climate, as a result of increasing global greenhouse gas emissions. 

Throughout December and January, I experienced many emotions. From sadness to anger and frustration, and now, all I feel is determination. 

Determination to move the needle forward. To shift how we do things in our food system.

Did you know that the global food system, also known as the industrialised food system, contributes to one-third greenhouse gas emissions? 

Some of these emissions come from farming as a result of the chemicals used to fertilise and get rid of weeds and pests. Intensive livestock is also a huge emitter. A significant chunk comes from transportation, processing and packaging and refrigeration. Deforestation for soy (animal feed), palm oil and grazing is a huge issue worldwide, as we cut down trees to grow and export more food.  Throw in food waste, and you begin to get a better picture of just how unsustainable our current food system is. 

The good news is that there are so many ways in which we can reduce carbon emissions with the food system, and many of them you can influence. 

I think back to a time when I used to feel so overwhelmed with the enormity of change required (especially since carbon emissions are only part of the problem). It’s quite insane the complexity that exists within the system that feeds us. In fact, I used to feel so small and worry about how we were (are) going to fix a problem of this scale. 

What I soon realised is that this fear keeps us small. It prevents us from recognising the power that exists within us to aid transformation. 

A friend of mine once said ‘every step we take moves us forward’, and that really resonated with me. 

Whatever you are doing, no mater how big or small; is critical to helping transform the food system for the better. 

If you’re reading this blog, I’m guessing you have a desire for change too. You want a healthier, sustainable and fairer food system. You want to be able to access more locally produced food that is free from chemicals, and where the farmer has been paid a fair price for their produce. You want to see more farmers growing food using regenerative agriculture principles, that rebuild and restore our dying soils. You want to see more people growing their own food, where communities come together and connect over fresh, wholesome produce. You want to see our governments instigate policies that build, support and create sustainable food systems and local food economies. 

Or perhaps you just have this deep desire to do something positive towards creating a better world for us all to to live in, both now and in the future, but just don’t know where to start when it comes to your food? 

The good thing with food; is that it’s an integral part of our lives, which gives us ample opportunities to make a difference.

This is the exciting thing that I’ve realised when it comes to food. We, the people, have the power to help transform the food system. YOU have the ability to shift things in so many ways, whether that’s within your own home, community or through speaking up; we can all play a role. 

Which is why in 2020 I’m focused on growing the food citizenship movement. A movement of people who are willing to take that one-step in the right direction. 

Because every step moves us forward. And if we’re moving forward then we’re facilitating change. We, the people are driving change. We’re no longer sitting back and waiting for our leaders and big business to change (although this also desperately needs to happen). We, the people, are going to drive systems change. We’re going to change the food system from the ground up.

This powerful change comes when we start to think of ourselves as food citizens instead of just mere consumers. Sure it’s a fancy term that you may not have heard before, yet it’s hugely powerful when we begin to shift our mindset. 

“A food citizen is someone who wants to, can and does shape the food system for the better, and encourages others to do the same.”

When you take the time to learn more about the food system and its wider impacts, this knowledge is empowering and very often compels us towards change. We move beyond seeing food as a commodity and object of economic transaction to valuing the social, environmental and cultural meanings of food.

So if you’re interested in learning more about the challenges that currently exist within the food system, and the steps you can take to support a healthier, sustainable and fairer food system then you’re in the right place. 

In my next blog post, I’m going to share my story as a food citizen. Feel free to sign up to my email list so you can get the new posts delivered straight to your inbox. 

Photo credit: image taken from Greta and the Giants by Zoe Tucker and Zoe Persico

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