Decolonizing our Food SystemsJanuary 11, 2022
The first step to becoming engaged personally in decolonizing our food systems is to seek a broader understanding in order to align our food choices to support positive changes in our society. Radical right?
By Marina de Pina-Jenkins
Here’s a quick trip around the topics of Indigenous food sovereignty and how we can begin decolonizing our cultural food practices.
Decolonizing the Most Recent Canadian Food Guide
Canada is a country of many cultures dispersed throughout a wide geographic region with many outdated food systems that are perpetuating food insecurity, meaning that not all Canadians have equal access to fresh and healthy foods. The latest Canadian Food Guide, launched in January 2019 with a promise to be inclusive of multicultural diets and diverse perspectives on food, including the food systems of Indigenous communities.
“Some scholars argue that federally designed standard food guides fails to address the myriad and complex issues of food security, well-being, and nutritional needs of Canadian Indigenous communities while imposing a dominant and westernized worldview of food and nutrition. In a parallel development, Indigenous food systems and associated knowledge and perspectives are being rediscovered as a way to improve current and future food security.” (U of Winnipeg News).
Taylor Wilson of University of Winnipeg has recently published Decolonizing Diets through Indigenous-focused Food Guides,
“Our research supports Indigenous-led and community-based resurgence and decolonization of food guides,” said Wilson.
Her research will continue with a community-based case study “to design and pilot-test a personalized Indigenous food guide in the Fisher River Cree Nation, to demonstrate its impact,” she said.
The Indigenous Food Sovereignty Movement
The Indigenous food sovereignty movement has been present since colonial times before Canada became a Nation, but it’s only in the last 15 years that this topic has been brought into public conversations alongside the growth of the food security movement. Indigenous food sovereignty is a specific policy approach within the Food Security Movement, to address the underlying issues impacting Indigenous peoples and our ability to respond to our own needs for healthy, culturally adapted Indigenous foods.
So how can we begin to engage with the decolonization movement as non-Indigenous Canadians?
Personally, I think learning and volunteering are the 2 best ways people can start making a positive change. In 2020, one of the most impactful books I read was Braiding Sweetgrass. I highly recommend this as a way to see deeper meanings behind Indigenous Teachings and to see how we are personally impacted by these systems.
Here are a few of my favourite quotes from Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmer to inspire you on your journey:
“I’ve heard it said that sometimes, in return for the gifts of the Earth, gratitude is enough… But I think we are called to go beyond cultures of gratitude, to once again become cultures of reciprocity.”
“Cultural survival depends on healthy land and a healthy, responsible relationship between humans and the land… Ecological restoration is inseparable from cultural and spiritual restoration, and is inseparable from the spiritual responsibilities of care-giving and world-renewal”
Quotes & Information on Taylor Wilson’s paper: https://news.uwinnipeg.ca/community-based-study-aims-to-decolonize-canadian-food-guide/
Wilson, T., & Shukla, S. (2020). Pathways to Revitalization of Indigenous Food Systems: Decolonizing Diets through Indigenous-focused Food Guides. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 9(4), 201–208. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2020.094.003
Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmer https://storestock.massybooks.com/item/YoqefBrscwlZoRaDtILPvg