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Food Sovereignty: Knowing How to Make an Impact

By Alyssa Harding | Editorial, Urban Agriculture

In a world beset by economic and social upheaval, it is easy to become overwhelmed and discouraged by your own sense of insignificance. Though the current state of global affairs might leave you doubting your individual ability to promote change, it is important to realize that every person can make a difference. Environmental science is an interdisciplinary subject, and after I graduated with a degree focused on natural resource policy, I realized how everything ties into the health of the environment, whether it is politics, education, food availability, or even national security. Currently, the global food system is controlled by agribusinesses and corporations who focus on profits rather than sustainability, usually at the expense of the environment and the health of the population. That is why food sovereignty, which is the right for individuals to know and choose where and how their food is produced, is such an important issue.

I discovered my passion for food science and food sovereignty after reading Raj Patel’s “Stuffed and Starved”, a book that describes the inequity in our global food system. In his book, Patel explained how we can all be part of an international resistance movement to create a more democratic, sustainable food system through food sovereignty demands. As a student enthralled by the intrinsic benefits that the environment provides, I took his words to heart and began actively volunteering and promoting sustainable food, water, and conservation campaigns in Florida. I attended the farmer’s market every Wednesday, and held group discussions with friends and colleagues on the inclusion of food stamps as a form of payment for fresh, local food products. This was part of a community effort to improve the quality and availability of food to lower income households, while supporting local farmers who are practicing the most sustainable agricultural practices.

“It is essential that everyone knows that they can make a difference, because any impact, no matter how small, will have a ripple effect…”

I also was part of a petition to make Introduction to Environmental Science a mandatory course for all majors at the University of Florida, in an effort to educate our generation on the importance of environmental stewardship. I was also a member of the Sustainability Team at the Olive Garden where I was employed, focusing on food recycling and waste reduction programs to reduce our company’s environmental impact. I cannot stress it enough; it is essential that everyone knows that they can make a difference, because any impact, no matter how small, will have a ripple effect that educates and inspires other individuals. I am a direct product of this cycle, and by writing for PowerHouse Growers, I am continuing a positive influence and helping to create a foundation for a sustainable future. Never underestimate yourself and what you can do.

About The Author

Alyssa Harding
Alyssa is a recent graduate of the Environmental Science program at the University of Florida, and is currently employed by a non-profit which promotes environmental campaigns and ecological stewardship. An active volunteer for various organizations, she aims to promote environmental conservation and education in an effort to create a foundation for a sustainable future. Alyssa specializes in food science and natural resource economics, and ultimately has her sights set on grassland ecology and regionally appropriate agriculture in order to remedy the inequity that permeates our global food system.