Decolonize Your Food
A new indigenous-run campaign to protect the world’s vanishing food diversity
Of all the biodiversity in the world, 80% is protected by indigenous communities, guardians of a precious heritage. With their traditional knowledge, they safeguard an extraordinary variety of plant and animal species, as well as traditions, languages and foods at risk of extinction.
Land grabbing, human rights violations, climate change and unsustainable farming are just some of the most obvious threats to this rich diversity. But another, less-visible menace is also putting biodiversity at risk: colonization through food. For example, many indigenous peoples are seeing traditional foods with valuable nutritional or medicinal properties appropriated without their consent and exploited for profit by corporations, with no recognition or benefit for them
Indigenous and traditional foods can play an important role in fighting hunger and malnutrition, and preventing non-communicable diseases.
They create biodiverse diets and practices, contributing to a healthy life. They preserve local ecosystems and environmental resources that can protect against micronutrient deficiencies. Today this model faces considerable competition due to the processed foods of the agro-food industry and the rising use of GMOs. Flooding the market with these products led to a considerable change in eating habits of which, shortly after, the harmful effects could be seen on the health of the population.
Another aspect of this process is the colonization of food cultures, which happens as the media and public policies encourage the production and consumption of industrial, globalized products instead of local, traditional foods. The result? Food insecurity and a standardization of diets, leading to the erosion of flavors, knowledge, rituals, celebrations, local economies and food identities. These losses hit indigenous youth particularly hard.
Everyone must ensure that the foods of indigenous peoples remain respected, protected by communities and celebrated as an integral part of the global culinary landscape. And we, as indigenous peoples, must respond to these threats by decolonizing our food!
The aim of the Decolonize Your Food campaign, run by the Slow Food Indigenous Peoples Network, is to share some of the on-going efforts to protect the foods of indigenous peoples from extinction and help people uncover the perhaps little-known indigenous origins of everyday foods as well as the places where they are still produced by local communities. We also hope it will inspire indigenous people to discover and take pride in their own food heritage.
Innovative strategies are being employed around the world, such as reclaiming traditional lands and farming practices, reintroducing heirloom varieties and embracing sustainable land management techniques. The campaign will be sharing these inspiring examples of food activism, showcasing the power of local knowledge and community-led initiatives.
Decolonize Your Food across the continents
The Slow Food Indigenous Peoples Network encompasses thousands of individuals working to protect and promote their food heritage in over 370 communities spread across 86 countries. Through the network, indigenous activists and chefs are organizing food education activities and events worldwide, while 900-plus indigenous products are catalogued in Ark of Tast and over 60 indigenous communities are protecting their traditional foods through Slow Food Presidia.
Decolonize Your Food in Mexico: a special campaign
Indigenous foods like corn, beans, chili peppers and native herbs continue to form the basis of Mexican cuisine, contributing to its unique flavors, textures and cultural significance. But indigenous peoples in Mexico often find their livelihoods at risk because of a lack of recognition of their importance. Many of their rights—to land, to defend their culture, to have a say in the development of their lands—are being constantly violated.
With the “Decolonize Your Food” campaign, the Slow Food Indigenous Peoples Network in Mexico is working to protect and promote indigenous food systems, strengthening a sense of belonging among indigenous communities and boosting pride in their gastronomic heritage. Indigenous people across the country will be asked to share a food they want to decolonize and to join the network! Discover more here
How to Get Involved
Celebrate the diversity, resilience and wisdom of indigenous communities worldwide as we strive for a better, cleaner and fairer future.
Explore the resources on our Social media channels (Facebook and Instagram) to learn about indigenous food traditions, how indigenous peoples are resisting food colonization and the importance of decolonizing our food systems and mindsets. Share this knowledge with your friends, family and community.
Listen respectfully to indigenous organizations, including Slow Food indigenous communities, working near you to understand their priorities, and share your commitment to supporting their causes. Participate in local events, workshops and conferences that promote indigenous peoples’ food sovereignty and decolonization.
Use your voice to advocate for policies that promote food sovereignty, protect biodiversity and recognize the rights and contributions of indigenous peoples. Join and support Slow Food to amplify your voice or support organizations that work towards these goals.
“We, as indigenous peoples, should be proud of our foods because they connect us with our communities, relatives and ancestors. They are our culture, our knowledge, our life: our identity.”
Dalí Nolasco Cruz
If you belong to an indigenous community, join our international network! Write to the Slow Food Indigenous Peoples Team at [email protected]
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