The majority of current food production systems are unsustainable and are the greatest contributor to environmental degradation. Modern technology and profit margins have taken us on a path that has lead to environmental pollution, loss of biodiversity, chemical toxicity and food with poor nutrient content. It has happened, not because of lack knowledge of sustainable food production systems, but because we have come to revere science and money. We now aim to produce more, for less, and with the highest economic return, but all the while using a system that is unsustainable. Across the world new laws are being passed, supposedly for our benefit, which limit our right to healthy, nutritious food; from raw milk bans, to GMOs, to the criminalising of seed saving; the reality is that our once universal right is being robbed for corporate profit. Not only is our health and food sovereignty at stake as the food supply concentrates into fewer hands, but so is our food security, the environment and the livelihoods of countless farmers.
The sudden increase in global food prices in 2007-2008 brought about a steady increase in food insecurity across many regions of the world. No longer is food insecurity a problem only of the poor and the underdeveloped; its reach is global and its consequences felt as much by the wealthy and developing countries. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported a 45% increase in the world food price index during the 2008 food crisis. Wheat prices increased by 130% relative to 2007 levels. Similarly, soy prices went up by 87%, rice prices by 74%, and maize prices by 31%. While the short-term causes of the crisis include weather shocks, increased oil prices, speculation, and growing demand for biofuels, many experts believe trade agreements and agricultural commoditization set the stage for tremendous price increases. Similar reasons are cited for 2011 food crisis, which has sparked riots, protests, and strife around the world.
The general public's reaction to these adverse consequences of the industrial food system has stimulated grass roots interest in organic farming, permaculture, farmers markets, fair trade, urban agriculture, WWOOFing , wild harvesting and gleaning the wastes of the industrial food system. Food security is a condition that "exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life." For many people permaculture is the design system and lifestyle that brings all these interests together in an integrated approach that goes beyond the concept of food security to one 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. It puts those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations. It ensures that the rights to use and manage our lands, waters, seeds, livestock and biodiversity are in the hands of those of us who produce food. The idea of food sovereignty puts the day-to-day work of permaculture into a larger context and connects us to people everywhere in the world. The food crisis of 2007-10 opened up new opportunities for reform and transformation, putting permaculture in the beating heart of a global movement; making the links between seemingly distant issues and bringing people addressing them together. Whether people try to grow our their food, run a local food scheme, campaign against genetic engineering, for access to land or better conditions for farm labourers, people around the globe are working on food sovereignty in a million different ways. Beyond protesting about problems, food sovereignty like permaculture offers a framework for solutions.
The theme of the 2014 International Permaculture day was “Reclaiming Food Freedom”, around the world, permaculture gardens and education centres opened their doors to showcase permaculture design and empower people to learn how to reclaim their food freedom. In response to the call for the international permaculture community to reclaim our food freedom the Panya community has decided to launch an initiative called "Focus on Food" designed to enable us to reach our goals of food production and promoting permaculture through education.
During the following year we plan on focusing our attention on designing new food systems, rejuvenating and tweaking existing systems on our farm. These systems will not only increase our food production and security but they will also be used to demonstrate permaculture design and sustainable food production systems to our visitors. We also plan to empower individuals to reclaim their food freedom through various courses we will run over the next year, which will provide course participants with the opportunity to learn how to use permaculture design in their daily lives and to experiment with various sustainable food production practices.
Once these systems are established and producing abundantly we plan to have a more active role in the Organic Vegetable Cooperative in our local village Moo Ban Mae Jo and the various farmers markets in Chiang mai. Additionally we will continue to promote permaculture and self-sufficiency making it accessible to the local village by hosting open days showcasing permaculture design and our food production systems, and providing guidance and assistance where needed.
Rebuilding the food system at the household level is the spark that will naturally spread the concept of permaculture and food sovereignty because the producers and the consumers are united by the intimate bonds. Through food we can better understand our histories, our cultures, and our shared future. Food connects us to the ecological systems all around us and teaches us about the world in which we live.
Come and learn about reclaiming your food Freedom through the following practices:
• Forest gardening for food, fibre, fuel and more
• Animal husbandry from backyard chickens to aquaculture
• Seed saving of open pollinated and/or heirloom seeds
• Composting and worm farms
• Organic fertilisers and pesticide
• Natural pest management
• Renewable energy systems
• Soil building
• Recycling and reusing waste products
• Food preservation and storage
By learning these essential life skills you will have the freedom to produce and consume nutritious food that strengthens the body and feeds soul. You will be making a stand against the corruption and control that is smothering our food system by joining the food sovereignty movement and becoming self-reliant.
Together We Can Grow the Revolution!!