An Introduction to Indigenous Food Systems


AnIntroduction to Indigenous Food Systems

IndigenousFood Systems

Indigenous FoodSovereignty (IFS) is one of the newest concepts that the indigenousactivists are establishing to ensure the objectives of theirsovereignty and survival are realized. In the majority of thecommunities across Canada, the IFS movement is in existence and isalso prominent in the British Columbia. It is in British Columbiathat the indigenous sovereignty instead of land has substantiallyfailed to be ceded though the treaties with the colonial governments.It is in such instance that IFS is primarily focused on as part ofits political concept that is sovereignty over the use land and themanner in which it is used (Schanbacher, 2010). IFS seek to guaranteethe survival of traditional methods of food production. However, whenthis objective is applied politically, it requires several demandswith the indigenous communities as well as the foreign nations.

Because theIndigenous Food Sovereignty is primarily concerned with cultural foodpractice, a larger section of the whole concept`s rhetoric lies inthe food traditions. Here, the main focus is how to implement themsuccessfully within the modern context. Traditional food, accordingto Austin &amp Scott (2005), is valued as appropriate nourishmentand a mode of healthy natural physiology. The appropriateness of IFSwould serve as a potential means to maintain positivity within socialenvironment in a community, which in turn translates intotransmitting traditional cultural values. Kuhnlein (2013) criticallynoted that food production is viewed as among fundamental ways thatthe indigenous people get involved with the land survives asculturally unique people.

The IFS is not equated by activists for example, with an indigenouspolitical sovereignty it is turn viewed as a necessary and criticalfeature of political independence, which is indigenous to its naturalstate. Again, IFS is not in any way considered a small politicaldemands` category woven within a bigger more complete sovereignty.Instead, it is a manifestation of many of the most crucial indigenousvalues, which should be preserved and reflected by the indigenoussovereignty. Therefore, to consider IFS to be on its own as acomplete representation of political freedom is not true. Through themanner in which the indigenous sovereignty is shaped, it is evidentthat it represents indispensability. Additionally, food practices area representation of some of the most crucial concepts of indigenouscultures. Here, it also goes forth to highlight and explain foodsalience within the indigenous sovereignty.

IFSSalient Features within a Canadian (colonial) Context

There aresalient features that differentiate the IFS from both the foodsovereignty and food security within the Canadian (colonial) context.According to Magdoff &amp Tokar (2010), IFS within a Canadiancontext views its choices as nothing to do with access to theindigenous people, food, and problems of accessing nutritious food.The indigenous people experience a set of difficult experiences withthe Canadian societies and bureaucracies, which do not understandtheir land for sustenance.

Promotingtradition in communities: It is one of the salient features ofIFS that distinguishes it from both the food sovereignty and foodsecurity. In the Canadian context, IFS was mandated to promote puretradition within the indigenous communities. A long food tradition isdifferent from food security, especially when the colonial context isbrought into play (Wiebe et al., 2011). This salient feature ishighly valued within the indigenous culture about IFS mandate toensuring social harmony and promoting set spiritual values within theCanadian communities. The Indigenous Food Systems is different fromfood security and sovereignty based on a strong connection betweenpeople`s need for a traditional way of food recovery, and the historyof land has seen within the Canadian (colonial) communities.Additionally, this salient feature is also a reflection of a culturalconcept of food, and thus promotes a more holistic approach to themaintenance and restoration of the ecosystem that generates food.

Changingtradition: This is another salient feature of IFS thatdistinguishes itself from food sovereignty and security. Within aCanadian (colonial) context, a significant amount of the IFS`s goalsand activities extend, which according to Schanbacher (2010), istermed as &quotbeyond pure tradition.&quot In Canadian community,it takes through the incorporation of modern techniques and practicesinto its community production, save for food security that isdifferent from the whole concept of changing tradition.

The IFS working plan that has been attempted by a Canadiannationality, Michael Smith, has had the &quotpossibility of manyreserves provided their land base&quot to potentiality generate foodby applying old methods of production with few modern ones. Magdoff &ampTokar (2010) noted that this feature is a representation of IFS`sambition towards the possibility of the interdependence in foodproduction. IFS advocates for a change in tradition that is theCanadian communities using the land base for food production. Unlikefood security, the distinctive feature is that IFS aims at stretchingbeyond traditional practices.

Progressive Conservatives: Indigenous Food Sovereignty is acolonial concept, which finds itself intertwined with the past andthe present that is between conservative and the progress. The mainsalient feature here is that traditional indigenous practices areseen as being different from the current features of food securityand food sovereignty based on the new technologies and values.However, the activists that promote the Indigenous Food Systems notedthat this salient feature of changing tradition in the colonialCanada is aware of the indigenous communities` realities. As wassuggested by Kuhnlein (2013), it is impossible for any member of acommunity to return to the traditional ways of life. This salientfeature is different on the IFS movement, which does not promote thereturn of the colonial ways of living.

What IFS endorses is considered to be culturally conservative,especially from the Canadian context. One of its main beliefs is therefocusing of a traditional living, which in turn benefits theculture, social life, and health of the colonial communities. Forexample, the indigenous group in Canada, the Food Secure Canada hascontinued to express their concerns about agricultural norms that areembraced by the IFS (Austin &amp Scott, 2005). Additionally, IFSendorses cultural conservative as a feature that refocuses on thetraditional lives from a colonial context, which is beneficial forcultural and social perspectives. The traditional value of keepingtabs with protecting nature that explains the IFS`s oppositionagainst the industrial establishment.

In conclusion, both modernism and tradition are viewed as valuableand crucial to indigenous survival. The maintenance of traditionwithin the Canadian context focuses on each of its community`ssurvival on food security and sovereignty. The IFS focuses onensuring the environment can sustain its communities in aconservative way. On the other hand, the paper focuses on the salientfeatures that were distinctive from both food security andsovereignty. Such features include changing tradition, progressiveconservatives, and promoting traditions in communities from aCanadian context. Here, the fundamental values of these featuresprimarily focused on the IFS`s ability to defend the Canadian landand its inalienability.


Austin, A., &amp Scott, J. S. (2005). Canadian missionaries,indigenous peoples: Representing religion at home and abroad.Toronto, Ont: University of Toronto Press.

Kuhnlein, H. V. (2013). Indigenous peoples` food systems &ampwell-being: Interventions &amp policies for healthy communities.Wiley

Magdoff, F., &amp Tokar, B. (2010). Agriculture and food in crisis:Conflict, resistance, and renewal. New York: Monthly Review Press.

Schanbacher, W. D. (2010). The politics of food: The global conflictbetween food security and food sovereignty. Westport, CT: PraegerSecurity International.

Wiebe, N., Desmarais, A. A., &amp Wittman, H. (2011). Foodsovereignty in Canada: Creating just and sustainable food systems.Halifax, N.S: Fernwood Pub.

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