Decolonize Your Food: Slow Food Indigenous Peoples’ Network Campaign Against Biodiversity Loss

On the occasion of the International Day of The World’s Indigenous Peoples 2023, celebrated on August 9, the Slow Food Indigenous Peoples’ network launches a global campaign to support Indigenous communities in preserving their food heritage for our common future.

Indigenous peoples’ communities protect an extraordinary variety of plant and animal species, as well as traditional knowledge, food, and languages that are at risk of extinction. Looking at the future of these communities, the Decolonize Your Food Campaign perfectly follows the main theme of this year’s International Day, which is Indigenous Youth as Agents of Change for Self-determination.  “Historically, our capacities, skills and knowledge that we contribute to the world’s food systems as indigenous women and youth have been made invisible. Youths are often told that they do not really know, that they are inexperienced, that they have to wait to be older to be able to express their opinions; but those who say this forget that youth is a source of energy, of dreams, of new abilities and skills. If we as youths also listen with respect and dignity to our elders, together we can create thousands of wonderful projects with solutions to climate change and biodiversity loss, because we complement each other”, comments Dalì Nolasco Cruz, Nahua woman, and member of the Slow Food International Board.

 

The Colonization of Indigenous Food

Eighty percent of biodiversity is safeguarded by indigenous peoples. These communities are also the custodians of traditional knowledge and foods. However, their livelihood is under threat from land grabbing, violations of indigenous peoples’ rights, climate change, and unsustainable agricultural practices. In addition to these visible causes, there is a less noticeable colonization happening through food. On one hand , corporations seek to extract indigenous knowledge and foods without consent, recognition, or benefit to the communities that co-create them, and on the other the increasing dominance of industrial and globalized foods is replacing local traditional ones. Mass media and public policies promote the consumption and production of these foods, leading to food insecurity, homogenization of diets, and the loss of flavors, knowledge, food celebrations, local economies, and food identities, particularly impacting indigenous youth.

Indigenous and traditional foods can play an important role in the fight against hunger and malnutrition: The biodiverse diets and production practices of which they are a part contribute to healthy living and preserve local ecosystems and environmental resources that can protect against micronutrient deficiencies. Today, this model faces considerable competition from the processed foods of the agri-food industry and the increasing use of GMOs. The flooding of the market with these products caused a considerable change in eating habits, and soon after the harmful effects of this change on the health of the population could be seen.

“Our food connects us to our communities, to Mother Earth and our ancestors,” says Dalì Nolasco Cruz -, “it is our culture, our knowledge, our life: our identity. For these reasons, it is crucial to ensure that indigenous peoples’ foods continue to be respected, protected and celebrated as an integral part of the global culinary landscape. Through the Decolonize Your Food Campaign, the Slow Food Indigenous Peoples Network seeks to raise awareness of ongoing efforts to protect indigenous peoples’ foods from extinction, and invites everyone to discover the indigenous origins of everyday foods and to discover the lands and communities where they are still produced.”

 

A Journey of awareness across Continents

Slow Food presents an ideal world tour among some indigenous foods highlighted by the Slow Food Indigenous Peoples’ network, which spans 86 countries and more than 370 communities.

The Slow Food Indigenous Peoples’ Network in Mexico will participate most actively , having just launched a national campaign asking indigenous communities to highlight local foods which they would like to decolonize . The same goes for Slow Food Uganda, which presented its My Food My Identity campaign https://slowfooduganda.org/slow-food-uganda-launches-my-food-my-identity-campaign/  to raise awareness among local people about indigenous foods that can be powerful alternatives in ensuring food sovereignty and valuable supports in the fight against climate change.

The Slow Food Cook’s Alliance: Taiwan Indigenous People has recently been launched in Taiwan. In addition to defending local biodiversity and products, the first 18 indigenous cooks who founded the Alliance will turn the spotlight onto indigenous traditions and ingredients. More info: https://www.fondazioneslowfood.com/en/nazioni-alleanza/taiwan-en/

In Europe, the Slow Food Sapmi Reindeer Gurpi Presidium producers nominated the

Gurpi, a type of cured reindeer meat which is special to the Sámi, an indigenous nomadic herding people who live in the mountains in Northern Sweden, on the border with Norway, Finland and Russia.

Everyone  can get involved in the campaign learning more about indigenous foods and communities and the importance of decolonizing our food systems and mindsets. It is essential to advocate for policy changes that protect biodiversity and recognize the rights and contributions of Indigenous peoples is another way to make a difference. More: https://old.slowfood.com/our-network/indigenous/decolonize-your-food/

On the International Day Of The World’s Indigenous Peoples 2023: On 23 December 1994, the United Nations General Assembly decided, in its resolution 49/214, that the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People shall be observed on 9 August every year. The date marks the first meeting, in 1982, of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations. https://social.desa.un.org/issues/indigenous-peoples/events/international-day-of-the-worlds-indigenous-peoples-2023

More on the Slow Food Indigenous Peoples Network: https://old.slowfood.com/our-network/indigenous/

 

IFAD and Slow Food share a vision of small-scale agriculture as a crucial source of income and nutrition for rural communities, and a driver of rural economic growth. Since 2009, the partnership between IFAD and Slow Food has contributed to innovative grassroots projects that enhance local value chains for traditional foods, as well as the development of an Indigenous Peoples’ network involving thousands of people in 86 countries. Currently, this partnership is implementing a new project aimed at advancing food system transformation by promoting the centrality of agroecological food systems and the invaluable knowledge of Indigenous Peoples in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and Asia and Pacific Regions.

 

Waiting for IFAD’s approval

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