“What we raise ourselves”
Growing food sovereignty in the Mississippi Delta
Keywords:Food Sovereignty, Mississippi Delta, School Gardens, Food Justice, Farm-to-School, Community Food Systems
This paper employs the concept of food sovereignty, as conceived by La Via Campesina and developed by First Nations in North America and peasant farmer groups around the world, as a lens to assess the level of local control over the production, distribution, and consumption of food in the Mississippi Delta. We present research conducted through site visits, participant observation, focus groups, and surveys of communities affiliated with the Delta EATS public school garden program currently operating in three Mississippi public elementary schools. Our findings demonstrate low levels of food sovereignty but high levels of agency and ingenuity in accessing and obtaining desired foods, along with abundant interest in preserving and passing on traditional foodways. Community members express the desire to exert greater local control over food production, distribution, and consumption through community gardens, farmers markets, and cooking and food preservation classes. While food sovereignty is constrained by the current agri-food system of the Delta, programs such as Delta EATS and farmers cooperatives are enhancing local food sovereignty through farm-to-school programs that strengthen relationships between farmers and the community.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Emily A. Holmes, Mary F. Campbell, Ryan Betz
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