Unravelling the colonial legacy of food systems


By Anouk Dijkman (Interim Sustainability Officer)

Last Thursday saw City’s Centre for Food Policy and the Sustainability team coming together to present the event ‘Unravelling the colonial legacy of food systems’. Chair Rosalind Sharpe, City University of London, was joined by Adam Gardner, head of Campaigns at The Fairtrade Foundation, and Marcos Lopes Filho, visiting scholar from the University of São Paulo of Public Health (Brazil).

The evening introduced the work the Fairtrade Foundation has undertaken for the past 30 years, helping farmers and workers build towards fairer trade systems.

Adam highlighted how Fairtrade has helped break the cycle of poverty by improving income for workers and empowering entrepreneurship amongst farmers. At the same time, initiatives like the Fairtrade Premium also encourage better community outcomes through education and improved facilities.

Marcos then provided a critical reflection from a global south perspective, highlighting the risks of perpetuating similar south-north trade flows emerging as a result of colonial exploitation, as well as the colonialist perspective of food as a commodity rather than an embedded element in culture and tradition.

Opportunities of improving outcomes for farmers were equally discussed, such as increasing product value through local food transformation. A remaining challenge identified in the current food trading systems is finding local markets for produce grown by fairtrade farmers, also ensuring local food cultures can be perpetuated.

Altogether a stimulating evening providing attendees with plenty of food for thought!


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