Agroecology is gaining steam around the world as an alternative to the industrial food system. However, it is often adopted as a technical fix, employed as a set of techniques and tools, rather than a path toward political transformation. Therefore, it is necessary to reflect on what agroecology really entails- it is much more than an ecological way of farming– agroecology is not agroecology without feminism. But why?
On International Women’s day, March 8, 2022, we launched an animation called ‘For feminist agroecologies’ that invites you to ask yourself questions about your food, and about what food system you want to contribute to. It delves into the inequalities that the food system is built on, and the importance of agroecologies that fight racism, sexism and all forms of oppression.
Watch our animation narrated in English or with subtitles in French, Spanish, Dutch or Portuguese (choose caption in video below). For versions with Spanish narration, click here and for French narration, here.
In collaboration with CIDSE, we are also launching our first episode of a new podcast entitled ‘What does feminism have to do with the food you eat’. This podcast called ‘A journey through feminist agroecology’ explores the question of what food systems would look like if they were based on feminist values.
‘If there are inequalities, you are not achieving agroecology.’ Isabel Álvarez Vispo
LISTEN to episode in English below. For Spanish version of this episode click here.
A feminist food system?
When people hear the word ‘feminism’, they think of women, and of gender, but feminisms stand for much more than that. Feminism, in the way that we understand it, is about changing the values around which decisions are made to give importance to processes and outcomes that may not have apparent ‘productive’ or economic benefits, but that center on care and reproduction of life, human and non-human. Feminism offers a new set of glasses through which to look at the world outside and inside of ourselves.
‘For there to be a feminist food system, the system has to change. Now in the center there is the capitalist market and that center must be changed. In the center there must be life, people and the planet.’ Isabel Álvarez Vispo
So, you might think to yourself that a feminist lens should be applied to all aspects of life, right? Right. So, is there something special about food? Yes, and no. It is just as important to apply feminist thinking to health, politics, science, as it is in food, but the fact is that food forms the basis for our survival. It is a major nexus between humans and natural ecosystems, as well as between individuals. Food is a means of domination as well as empowerment, for division as well as cohesion, and it is hard work that needs to be done daily, all year around without fail. Food is an area of historic oppression and violence against women, BIPOC, and others who do not fall into the white, heterosexual, middle class CIS-male category. It is time for this to change.
‘From the perspective of feminist agroecology, healthy food is not just for those who can pay for it.’ Diana Lilia Trevilla Espinal
Agroecology, as an idea and a practice, emerged from Latin America. Many powerful feminist ideas and movements, especially the shade of feminism that we discuss here, also emerged from Latin America. For this reason we have started our podcast journey in Mexico interviewing Diana Lilia Trevilla Espinal. Spain, borrowing from their latin connections, brought these ideas to Europe, but many discussions still take place in the spanish language. We interviewed Isa Alvarez from Spain to share her experiences. Part of the goal of this podcast was to make these stories accessible in English. Through Diana’s and Isa’s stories, this episode unpacks the ways in which it is necessary to go beyond gender for food system transformation, what is needed and how it can be done in practice.
Illustrations by: Virginia Pineda Ogalla
Teaser photo credit: By CIAT – NP Himachal Pradesh 68Uploaded by mrjohncummings, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30330009