Food Values

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As a society, we have devalued food. Therefore, change is necessary, but how and where should change occur? Throughout this course, we’ve looked at the global food system as a connected set of processes; from seeds to growing, harvesting, transport, trade, and water, each becomes interrelated and dependent on one another. To change the system that exists now, the question is, do we overhaul everything and start over? Is that even possible, and, more importantly, is it necessary? Globally, we’re facing some pretty major concerns like water shortages and climate change that will fundamentally alter agricultural landscapes, so the transformation of our thinking and our practices must occur in conjunction.

Within our lessons, I’ve become aware that addressing only one problem at a time will likely lead to new questions and difficulties. For instance, in the case of advocating for food sovereignty, what then about enforcement and oversight, and can trade and sovereignty coexist? Will sovereignty separate countries from one another, rather than unite them in establishing creative solutions to their food-related issues? The most compelling aspects of this course for me have been where we’ve been invited to view how a holistic approach has been advocated. In places like Cuba and Brazil, where these countries have attacked multiple levels of systemic changes, they have been able to produce sustainable and productive systems; these systems seems to reinfuse value into the process of feeding people.

I keep returning in this course to the contrasting values of the developed world with the developing world; that wealthier countries have more decision-making power, and yet, their sense of “value” lies more in economic terms, framing food and life in a cost/benefit analysis. So, my final question is, how do we shift our values toward a more complete and holistic approach? How can we transform our values from an economic perspective to a humanist, cooperative perspective that would hopefully inspire new agricultural practices as well?

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