Case Studies of Food Sovereignty Initiatives Among the Māori of Aotearoa (New Zealand)

Authored by: Karyn Stein , Miranda Mirosa , Lynette Carter , Marion Johnson

The Routledge Handbook of Food Ethics

Print publication date:  July  2016
Online publication date:  July  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138809130
eBook ISBN: 9781315745503
Adobe ISBN: 9781317595502


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The industrial food system, which is based on the commodification of food and corporate control of food production and distribution, has failed to combat world hunger and malnutrition. According to the World Food Program, over 90% of the world’s hungry are simply too poor to buy enough food (Holt-Giménez and Patel 2012). Holt-Giménez (2014) concludes that there is already enough food to feed everyone on the planet; hunger is not a problem of production, but rather the result of poverty and inequality. Similarly, Timmer (2012) contends that the problem is not with food production, but rather food produced solely for profit. Food is being produced for the market as a commodity, while families that are financially unable to participate in the market system go hungry (Timmer 2012). The “destructive neo-liberal market path-dependency” of the global, industrial food system has led to rising energy and food prices, unstable communities that are no longer self-sufficient, and adverse environmental impacts, including climate change and water and air pollution (McMichael 2014: 951). Environmental degradation has been unprecedented in the last 60 years, at a rate unseen in the last 10,000 years (Milman 2015). There is widespread consensus that the food system is in need of transformation in order to become more sustainable, equitable, and just. There is an urgent need for alternatives, and the focus is shifting towards “the question of stewardship of the land as an act of social provisioning and human survival” (McMichael 2014: 951). The true heroes that are transforming the food system from the ground up include Indigenous women producing food while reviving traditional ways, preserving biodiversity, and conserving their culture. Through a variety of approaches, their actions represent local solutions to global problems presented by an unsustainable and unjust global food system.

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