I recently had the opportunity to attend the UN FAO’s 2nd International Symposium on Agroecology, in Rome, Italy. It was fun, and very interesting. I had a lot to say about it, and started writing something really long … a kind of internal analysis of the issues I saw there, especially around the sensitive issues of Agroecology being “co-opted” and transformed through its uptake into institutions like FAO.
However, after beginning that, I realized that I could re-focus the piece towards the US context, and how little there is a strong presence of the US, its farmers and food sovereignty/agroecology movement actors, in these international spaces like the Symposium. And how does this weak presence relate to my perennial problem with US food movements: the apolitical/de-political and un-internationalist nature of its politics.
That led to me writing what I’ve printed below … which has now been edited into a shorter form, for publication at the popular US food politics blog Civil Eats. You can find that published version HERE.
As always, do let me know what you think!
From the globe to home: what is “agroecology” to the U.S. food movement?
By Antonio Roman-Alcalá
The word “agroecology” is rarely heard in the United States, even among people concerned with both agriculture and ecology. Instead, talk is of “sustainable agriculture”, “regenerative agriculture”, or “organic farming”. Is agroecology something new that offers added value, and which the US food movement should pay attention to? Or is it just another term—an esoteric one at that—that competes for our attention?
All these terms share a commitment to food production without negative impacts on the environment. What makes agroecology different, potentially, is the combination of its scientific bona fides and its rootedness in the practices and political organization of small-scale food producers from across the globe.