Food System Transformation

Food System TransformationNutrient Dense Food Food Justice, Equity, and Sovereignty Redesigned Local/Regional Food Systems

Watch videos from the Food Systems and Food Justice speakers series — Spring 2021

Regenerative food systems can transform the well-being of individuals, communities, farmers, workers, and the land on which food is grown.

Commercial food systems harm the global climate when greenhouse gases are emitted by growing and transporting food, by wasting food, by depleting the soil and through deforestation.

Food can be grown degeneratively (losing soil carbon, causing soil erosion, reducing biodiversity, and polluting groundwater), sustainably (holding soil organic matters stable in the soil and not contributing to biodiversity loss or watershed pollution) or regeneratively (sequestering soil carbon in the form of soil organic matter, enhancing water storing and cleaning capacity, and enhancing biodiversity). The difference between degenerative and regenerative farming is how well the farmers care for the complexity of the living things in the soil—the fungi, the bacteria, the insects and other life forms.
Caro Roszell, NOFA/Mass Education Director, “The Real Climate Change Mitigating Diet.” NOFA/Mass Newsletter Feb. 2020

Ways to define and promote access to nutrient-rich food

This page links to projects to establish a definition for nutrient dense foods from the Bionutrient Food Association and its Real Food Campaign, as well as other certification efforts.

Ways to define and achieve food justice and food sovereignty

Food justice is a holistic and structural view of the food system that sees healthy food as a human right and addresses structural barriers to that right. The movement draws in part on environmental justice, which emerged in the 1980s as a critique of how environmentalism became more mainstream as it became more elite, more white, and more focused on wilderness and scenery than on human communities vulnerable to pollution (the effects of which are at once disparate and racialized).

Environmental justice is a movement primarily led by the people most impacted by environmental problems, connecting environmental health and preservation with the health of vulnerable communities. Food justice efforts (which are generally led by indigenous peoples and people of color) work not only for access to healthy food, but for an end to the structural inequities that lead to unequal health outcomes.

In some cases, environmental and food justice intersect. For example, many factory farms and meatpacking plants, which pollute neighboring communities’ water and air through excess manure runoff, noxious dust and noisome smells, are situated in communities that are predominantly inhabited by people of color.

Source: FoodPrint, dedicated to revealing our “foodprint”–the result of everything it takes to get food from farm to plate.


Food Sovereignty, as defined by Declaration of Nyéléni, 2007, 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 the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.” DECLARATION OF NYÉLÉNI (the first global forum on food sovereignty), Mali, 2007

The idea of food sovereignty is attributed to the international peasant group La Via Campesina, which claims 200 million members worldwide.

2001: The farmers from Vía Campesina and ROPPA* reassert:

  • The RIGHT of the populations and their States to define their agricultural and food policies, at national level, next at regional level, in favour of family farms, provided these policies exclude dumping towards third countries: that’s [what] we call food sovereignty;
  • The right to have access to resources (land, water, seeds, …) to be able to produce and live in dignity. It is the very problem of Southern farmers to whom these rights are currently denied; 
  • The right for countries/groups of countries from the South and the North to protect their agriculture and market to be able to fairly remunerate labour and products from family farms; 
  • The world market should not be a surplus market anymore but a market based on fair exchanges of regional products at fair prices. The international markets have to be regulated to put an end to the deterioration of exchange terms, particularly for Southern farmers who export tropical products.

*Network of farmers organisations and agricultural producers from Western Africa

Efforts to redesign the food system

The fledgling Western Mass. Regenerative Food System intends to link together existing projects and bring financial resources to raise 30% of food regeneratively by 2030. Read the ambitious outline.

Local Futures is an international organization focused on rebuilding society in a way that counters globalization.

“We’re building a localized future where most of our food comes from nearby farmers who are a part of our community and who ensure food security year round. Where money we spend on everyday goods continues to recirculate in the local economy, building community prosperity along the way. Where multinational businesses and banks adhere to the rules of society – not the other way around. Where local businesses are thriving and multiplying, thereby providing ample, meaningful livelihoods for everyone.”

Read more on their explanations of Localization and Globalization.

View their great film depicting how globalization is at the root of multiple crises in the 20-minute version of “The Economics of Happiness” or the full, award-winning, documentary.

World Localization Day, June 20, 2021, was an opportunity to explain the issues and highlight solutions around the world. Here is the playlist of short videos extracted from 4 hours of programming.

Nourishn is a coalition of “nourishment economies” working to enhance synergies between social and business enterprises, governance protocols, and infrastructure.

Since 2016 they have leveraged entrepreneurs, scientists, and supporters to create “Full Nutrition Value Chains” intended to cycle benefits back into local food systems.

Click on the image to go to the Nourishn affiliates page

Food Systems and Food Justice Speaker Series — Spring 2021

A Conversation about Racial Equity and Food Access with Anna Gilbert-Muhammad and Ibrahim Ali ~ March 16, 2021 Anna Muhammad is the Equity Director, Food Access & Webinar Coordinator at NOFA/MASS. Her work focuses on food access & urban agriculture in Springfield. Ibrahim Ali has over 20 years of youth & farm related work in Springfield & in New York …