College of Liberal Arts

Food Revolutions: Latin America’s Food System

Tue, Feb 14, 2017
Photo by Sam Fentress.
Photo by Sam Fentress.

Latin America might be the canary in the coal mine for the world food system. 

“Our global food system is broken, it is making us sick, and it is undermining the environment and eroding workers’ rights. No region in the world serves as a better example of this broken system than Latin America,” said public affairs professor Raj Patel and LLILAS lecturer Pilar Zazueta, co-organizers of the tenth annual Lozano Long Conference, Revoluciones Alimentarias: New Perspectives on the Contemporary Food System in Latin America.

Latin America’s food system has been shaped by an era of significant volatility, with trade liberalization, political upheaval, population displacements and environmental change all playing a role. This conference will address the opportunities and obstacles to transforming the current food system in Latin America and what the rest of the world can learn.

“Anyone interested in how US cities might feed themselves, how farmers can survive climate change, or how we can stand up to multinational food companies and big soda will find answers from some of the leading farmers and intellectuals in all the Americas,” Patel said. 

The emerging global food movement is reimaging how we can grow and distribute food in a more sustainable and fair way. In Latin America, social movements made up of farmers, agricultural workers, consumers, environmental groups, indigenous communities and other experts have been pushing for greater food self-sufficiency, agro-ecological production and equitable nutrition policies. 

“If we give the food system the attention it deserves, the social benefits could be astounding,” Zazueta said. “Latin America is leading the way in grassroots farming and public health innovations that could radically transform how we eat and how we interact with the environment. Our intention with the conference is to build a collaborative space to discuss the lessons we have learned so far and how we can continue to improve on areas like gender inequality in rural spaces, nutrition in urban areas, and diversified crop production.”

The event will begin with a keynote by Humberto Ríos Labrada, winner of the 2010 Goldman Environment Prize, who will discuss “Brokering Agriculture Innovation and Fostering Action Learning in Latin America” on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 5 p.m. in the Texas Union.

Other events will bring together innovative activists, researchers and artists representing the fields of anthropology, ecology, geography, public health, law, history, sociology, political science and film, including a screening of Sunú — a film that addresses corn and its precarious future — on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 4:30 p.m. in the Prothro Theater of the Harry Ransom Center.

Panel topics include agroecology and alternative farming styles; rights-oriented food movements; the land, work and market struggles surrounding industrial agriculture; and nutrition and public health approaches to food policies.

All events are free and open to the public. For more event details, view the conference on Facebook at Latin America’s Food Revolution.

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