Indigenous Foodways – Food Tank

I attended one of the famous Terra Madre Slow Food meetings in Italy years ago. During the opening ceremony, indigenous peoples from around the world came to the scene wearing traditional clothing and items of importance to their communities. It was beautiful and exciting, but more importantly, it was a poignant reminder of the wisdom of Indigenous knowledge. Each year, I am more convinced that if we are to meet the challenges of extreme climate change and transform food systems so that they are resilient and equitable, we must listen to indigenous communities, support them and include them in the taking. decision-making on earth. that they have supported for thousands of years.

A lot of people are excited about the innovation potential of agtech and I count myself among them. Yet in our rush for the “Silicon Valley” of our food system, we have overlooked the urgency to better understand, honor, safeguard, preserve and pass on traditional knowledge. I suspect that in the United States more money was poured into the MIT Food Computer, which turned out to be a hoax, than it was invested in preserving local breeds kept by indigenous peoples. and in understanding indigenous protocols against overexploitation of species.

Three current events suggest a new opportunity to elevate and amplify indigenous voices to help us achieve more sustainable food systems.

First, at least as far back as the 1992 United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, governments have recognized the knowledge of indigenous peoples and their contributions to the protection of biodiversity. The full promise of this Convention has yet to be fulfilled as limited resources have been devoted to its implementation. It may change. In September, during the UN Climate Action Summit, Emmanuel Farber, CEO of Danone, citing pressure from Generation Z consumers, announced that 19 giant companies have pledged to work together to protect biodiversity. It’s good!

Second, the ground is making the headlines. Native Americans have long defended three sisters plantation and other practices that build healthy soils, even in badlands, but until recently soil construction was not on the political agenda in any meaningful way. Today, even U.S. presidential candidates advocate regenerative agriculture and raise the importance of healthy soils, as public and private sector leaders strive to establish carbon markets to reward sequestration. of soils. Exciting!

Third, advocates for sustainable agriculture are once again focusing on strategies to tackle food justice, entrenched inequalities and social inclusion. At the same time, the American Indian Agricultural Fund, created from the settlement money of the class action resolution Keepseagle vs. Vilsack on the historic discrimination of the US Department of Agriculture, distributes its first round of grants to help Native American farmers and ranchers. Creepy!

Biodiversity, healthy soils and food justice: all topics on the agenda for which indigenous peoples have ideas and can help academics like me, as well as business leaders, presidential candidates and advocates. sustainable agriculture to learn from traditional wisdom.

Now I’m going to say something that I’ve never said before: the more meetings the better! It is time for all of us to find ways to make the voices of indigenous people heard and to confront the issues of food sovereignty. There are good recent efforts to note. In 2018, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations organized its first high-level expert seminar on Indigenous food systems, building on traditional knowledge to achieve zero hunger. This fall, Slow Food hosted indigenous leaders from 27 countries in Japan to discuss the contributions of traditional knowledge to sustainable food systems, climate change and global hunger. In the process, Slow Food will organize an Indigenous Peoples Terra Madre for Americans in Mexico in February 2020.

For our part, the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University is working with the University of Hawaii and Food Tank to organize a Food Tank summit on “Wisdom of Indigenous Food Pathways” to be held on January 22, 2020 in Tempe, Arizona. . We will discuss the importance of local knowledge derived from agriculture, seed sovereignty, wild foods and contemporary indigenous gastronomy. We will explore ways in which young people can effectively support Indigenous communities. We will taste native foods. People can attend in person or via a webcast, with details of how to participate on our website,

Nohemi M. Moore