Food Sovereignty

Seven Pillars of Food Sovereignty

“Food Sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.” -La Via Campesina

La Via Campesina is a global peasant movement who defined the struggle for food sovereignty. The first six pillars of food sovereignty were developed at the International Forum for Food Sovereignty in Nyéléni, Mali, in 2007.  The seventh pillar – Food is Sacred – was added by members of the Indigenous Circle during the People’s Food Policy process in Canada.

1. Focuses on Food for People

  • Puts people’s need for food at the centre of policies
  • Insists that food is more than just a commodity

2. Builds Knowledge and Skills

  • Builds on traditional knowledge
  • Uses research to support and pass this knowledge to future generations
  • Rejects technologies that undermine or contaminate local food systems

3. Works with Nature

  • Optimizes the contributions of ecosystems
  • Improves resilience

4. Values Food Providers

  • Supports sustainable livelihoods
  • Respects the work of all food providers

5. Localizes Food Systems

  • Reduces distance between food providers and consumers
  • Rejects dumping and inappropriate food aid
  • Resists dependency on remote and unaccountable corporations

6. Puts Control Locally

  • Places control in the hands of local food providers
  • Recognizes the need to inhabit and to share territories
  • Rejects the privatization of natural resources

7. Food is Sacred

  • Recognizes that food is a gift of life, and not to be squandered
  • Asserts that food cannot  be commodified


CAGJ would like to acknowledge Food Secure Canada for its articulation of the above seven pillars of food sovereignty. They also offer this overview of the difference between Food Security and Food Sovereignty:

Food security is a goal while food sovereignty describes how to get there. They differ in some key ways.

  • Food sovereignty is rooted in grassroots food movements.
  • Food sovereignty highlights the need for a democratic food system, one that involves inputs from citizens as well as producers.
  • Food security is concerned with the protection and distribution of existing food systems.