manifesto

FOR THE FUTURE OF FOOD

Towards an ethical, resilient

and inclusive local food system

Over the past few generations, the connection to the food we eat has been broken by a “conventional” system which prioritizes productivity over nutritional and environmental quality, resulting in harmful consequences for the environment and social equity. Driven initially by the desire for progress and the need to feed a growing population properly, it is now clear that, in Quebec and around the world, too many people today lack access to adequate food. What’s more, our food systems are responsible for a large proportion of greenhouse gas emissions, all the while offering huge potential for reducing these emissions through the adoption of sustainable practices. Moreover, crisis situations show the undeniable flaws that threaten our collective food security and sovereignty. A profound change in our food systems, from land to plate, is necessary for the health of our communities, the resilience of our natural environments and the development of thriving local economies.  We must all work together to build a food system that is equitable and resilient to the various shocks we increasingly face.

Our collective of passionate experts is bound by a common mission: to foster social innovation in the food sector. By supporting multiple initiatives, businesses and collective projects, we strive to build fair and inclusive food ecosystems. We co-create democratic solutions grounded in their territories, leading to more sustainable food practices that contribute to a better future for all. While we recognize that all human activity necessarily has an impact on its environment, we rely on collective intelligence and the mobilization of a diversity of stakeholders (funders, civil society, change agents, food citizens, etc.) to generate as many positive and least harmful effects as possible for future generations.

We believe that:

Food is a collective good

before being a commercial good

The right to food is a fundamental human right. As a result, we believe that the issues surrounding individuals’ food should be governed first and foremost by the search for the common good, the preservation of biodiversity and the recognition of the work of the people who feed us, rather than by the market laws. The current situation encourages overproduction and maintains expectations of overabundance and immediate satisfaction for consumers. We need to re-examine the dynamics between this excessive supply and the management of consumer expectations, and endeavour to entrench a seasonal and territorial connection to our food. By the same token, innovation in the food sector doesn’t have to be solely focused on technological advancements or economic growth; innovation often stems from a new way of seeing, organizing or reappropriating resources or solutions that are already available.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?
  • Act in a proactive, preventive and collaborative manner
  • Support the mutualizing of resources or the reorganization of existing networks to maximize them and to address gaps in food systems
  • Facilitate access to resources and support the concerted efforts of those who work on the ground and often know the solutions, but don’t always have the resources required to implement them
    Provide financial support for agroecological production, and tighten ecological and social criteria for funding programs
  • Invest in fair income policies (taxation, support measures, etc.)

Food is a driver of change

environmental, social, economic

Food systems must aim to provide benefits on three levels, i.e., a benefit or minimal impact in terms of 1) the preservation of natural ecosystems; 2) the health of individuals and the social and cultural development of communities; and 3) economic development and equity for all actors in the chain, rather than serving the economic growth of monopolies and conglomerates. Food must be on a human and territorial scale to feed communities, while also being diversified through the richness of fair global trade. Food systems must also take all available means to reduce food waste and any negative effects resulting from production, processing (packaging), transportation and post-consumption.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?
  • Support agroecological production and improve agricultural practices
  • Rethink the food cycle in circularity rather than linearity
  • Review governance models and encourage mutualization, cooperation and “coopetition”
  • Shorten supply chains at the community level
  • Strengthen and encourage local food economies

We need to reconnect with our food

the people who produce it and the land that feeds us

Without going backwards, we need to reconnect with the people, skills and processes behind our food. It’s always preferable to be able to name the ingredients we consume, and desirable to be able to interact with the person who produced them. In an age when everything is available to us, marketed, prepared, processed, and ready-to-eat, we need to go beyond commercial claims and trends to understand the mechanisms that bring this food to our table. This requires an extra effort to understand farming systems, industry processes and commercial trade; we need to develop critical thinking as food citizens, in the same way as political or economic involvement is encouraged in our society.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?
  • Promote food sovereignty by enhancing the transmission of know-how and the transfer of learning
  • Support artisanal production and the vitality of farms and bio-food businesses through regulatory changes that promote complementary activities and multifunctionality (e.g., on-farm slaughtering, raw milk, zoning for living on farms, on-farm tourism, social integration, educational activities)
  • Create more spaces for information exchange and learning opportunities

There are no simple solutions to complex problems

Beware of false good ideas and shortcuts.

An innovative solution must always be considered as a whole; if it provides a benefit in only one aspect of the three levels of benefits sought (environmental, social, economic) but neglects other negative effects, it’s probably a false good idea. If it focuses on the consequence of a problem, rather than tackling the problem itself, it’s probably an incomplete response. We must therefore always be wary of “easy” solutions or fads that emphasize one message (e.g., non-GMO, whole grains, vegan, etc.) while omitting other aspects (pesticides, additives, water use, proper working conditions, etc.). Our food systems are complex and require significant solutions; we need to understand the real impact of our practices and societal choices around food.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?
  • Promote popular education on food, so that all actors in society (individuals, institutions, businesses, etc.) have the necessary information to make informed choices
  • Take into account the potential negative impacts and evaluate the social and environmental impact continuously, i.e., do not displace the problem or create new ones (e.g., hyperlocal production but with low nutritional density, necessary infrastructures, inputs/outputs, water use, vegetable proteins with harmful effects on the environment (e.g., almonds) or humans (e.g., cashews))
  • Recognize territorial specificities and ensure the adequacy of solutions to local problems (e.g., urban vs. rural production)
  • Change demand by educating consumers instead of just acting on supply by finding alternatives (e.g., imitation meat, out-of-season fruit and vegetable production)
  • Limit initiatives whose business models are dependent on the perpetuation of problems (e.g., transforming unsold food vs. limiting waste at the source, using surpluses to feed the most vulnerable vs. physical and economic access to healthy food) and favour initiatives that directly address a complex problem

No one should be left behind

to move forward together

We must ensure that we include all people in the optimization of food systems, including the vulnerable, marginalized and under-represented communities, and take into account the multiple and intersectional needs of all. We must recognize the injustices suffered by many of these communities, which have had and continue to have an impact on their access to land, territory and resources, as well as to healthy and adequate food. We also recognize the richness that all diversities bring to our shared agricultural, culinary and experiential food culture. By sharing meals, traditions, recipes, foods and seeds, we can bring people and communities together and build bridges. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and food has tremendous unifying power.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?
  • Acknowledge racism, sexism and all systemic injustices, and work towards reparation
  • Restore independence to indigenous communities in the use of their territories
  • Enhance the value of know-how and the links between food and nature
  • Promote physical and economic access to healthy and culturally appropriate food
  • Bring forward issues of inclusion, diversity and representation in all thinking, and ensure that solutions are co-created and rooted in the reality of all people

We are all caretakers of the earth

Everyone eats

“My grandfather used to say that once in a lifetime you need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman or a priest, but every day, three times a day, you need a farmer.” - Brenda Schoepp, 2012

We recognize that farmers* are the frontline custodians of the soil and the land and we want their role to be properly recognized. We want them to have the means to occupy the land in a sustainable and resilient manner (see also: Resilience Manifesto), and to harmonize with nature, which is by definition unpredictable, without bearing all the risks. As food citizens, we must all be supportive and grateful for this important work and carry our food sovereignty as a collective, daily effort. We need to re-prioritize food in our individual and societal consumption choices and re-examine the value placed on our food. 

WHAT CAN BE DONE?
  • Promote a fair price for all actors in the chain
  • Recognize and educate the population on the role of agriculture and peasantry in biodiversity, carbon sequestration, etc. (e.g., grazing animals)
  • Facilitate access to land and support, socially and politically, sustainable agricultural projects
  • Reposition humans in relation to their ecosystem (soil, water, forests, animals, insects; living organisms and living environments)
  • Better share the risk between the different actors of the chain by creating partnerships or opportunities for circularity

*This designation applies to any person providing any product from nature, i.e., fishing, hunting, wild gathering, etc.