Virginia Ogalla: What does feminism have to do with the food you eat?

What does feminism have to do with the food you eat?

In Agroecology and Feminism, Agroecology in Motion by JessicaM

Agroecology is gaining steam around the world as an alternative to the industrial food system. However, it is often adopted as a technical fix, employed as a set of techniques and tools, rather than a path toward political transformation. Therefore, it is necessary to reflect on what agroecology really entails- it is much more than an ecological way of farming– agroecology is not agroecology without feminism. But why? 

On International Women’s day, March 8, 2022, we are launching an animation called ‘For feminist agroecologies’ that invites you to ask yourself questions about your food, and about what food system you want to contribute to. It delves into the inequalities that the food system is built on, and the importance of agroecologies that fight racism, sexism and all forms of oppression.

Watch our animation narrated in English or with subtitles in French, Spanish, Dutch or Portuguese (choose caption in video below). For versions with Spanish narration, click here and for French narration, here.

For feminist agroecologies from Agroecology Now on Vimeo.

Podcast

In collaboration with CIDSE, we are also launching our first episode of a new podcast entitled  ‘What does feminism have to do with the food you eat’. This podcast called ‘A journey through feminist agroecology’ explores the question of what food systems would look like if they were based on feminist values.  

‘If there are inequalities, you are not achieving agroecology.’ Isabel Álvarez Vispo

LISTEN to episode in English below. For Spanish version of this episode click here.

A feminist food system? 

When people hear the word ‘feminism’, they think of women, and of gender, but feminisms stand for much more than that.  Feminism, in the way that we understand it, is about changing the values around which decisions are made to give importance to processes and outcomes that may not have apparent ‘productive’ or economic benefits, but that center on care and reproduction of life, human and non-human. Feminism offers a new set of glasses through which to look at the world outside and inside of ourselves.  

‘For there to be a feminist food system, the system has to change. Now in the center there is the capitalist market and that center must be changed. In the center there must be life, people and the planet.’ Isabel Álvarez Vispo

So, you might think to yourself that a feminist lens should be applied to all aspects of life, right? Right. So, is there something special about food? Yes, and no. It is just as important to apply feminist thinking to health, politics, science, as it is in food, but the fact is that food forms the basis for our survival. It is a major nexus between humans and natural ecosystems, as well as between individuals. Food is a means of domination as well as empowerment, for division as well as cohesion, and it is hard work that needs to be done daily, all year around without fail. Food is an area of historic oppression and violence against women, BIPOC, and others who do not fall into the white, heterosexual, middle class CIS-male category.  It is time for this to change. 

‘From the perspective of feminist agroecology,  healthy food  is not just for those who can pay for it.’ Diana Lilia Trevilla Espinal

Agroecology, as an idea and a practice, emerged from Latin America. Many powerful feminist ideas and movements, especially the shade of feminism that we discuss here, also emerged from Latin America. For this reason we have started our podcast journey in Mexico interviewing Diana Lilia Trevilla Espinal. Spain, borrowing from their latin connections, brought these ideas to Europe, but many discussions still take place in the Spanish language. We interviewed Isa Alvarez from Spain to share her experiences. Part of the goal of this podcast was to make these stories accessible in English.   Through Diana’s and Isa’s stories, this episode unpacks the ways in which it is necessary to go beyond gender for food system transformation, what is needed and how it can be done in practice. 

Diana Lilia Trevilla Espinal (Mexico): Feminist agroecologist from the periphery and migrant in South-Eastern Mexico. She holds a doctorate in ecology and sustainable development from El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, México. She is an activist, a feminist, a creator and a trainer. She is co-founder of Agroecologists in Movement and collaborates with the Mexican Care Network and the Alliance of Women in Agroecology. Her areas of interest are: feminist economics, care, defense of territory, agroecology and collective health. She is currently a researcher and a consultant. She has published several articles such as “Feminist agroecology: analyzing powerrelationships in food systems” (2021), “Agroecología y cuidados: reflexiones desde los feminismos de Abya Yala” (2020),  “Sentipensar el cuidado ante la crisis socioambiental” (2019) and co-authored with other women: “Ethics ofcare in agroecology” (2020), “Ciencia y feminismo desde el cuerpo-territorio en los estudios socioambientales” (2020) and “Cuidado y sostenibilidad de la vida. Diálogos entre la agroecología y la ecología política feministas” (2020). She enjoys walking in the woods, walking on the sand on the seashore and lives the rebellion with joy. 

Isabel Álvarez Vispo (Spain): Granddaughter of peasant women, daughter of ‘cardboard suitcase’ migrants and a rebel by vocation. In the workplace, she is an educator, an expert in food sovereignty and an agroecologist. She is dedicated to accompanying agroecological projects through research and training, both locally and internationally, with special emphasis on the feminist perspective. She is co-President of the international URGENCI Network and is involved in several networks such as the Baladre Coordination and Ecologists in Action. She has collaborated on several books, articles and other publications. The most recent book What do those eat who eat badly? together with other colleagues from Baladre Coordination and the report Political participation of rural women in the Spanish State.

The podcast is available on Spotify , Apple Podcast and other major listening platforms. 

Illustrations by: Virginia Pineda Ogalla 

Special thanks to: Diana Lilia Trevilla Espinal, Isa Alvarez, Anya Verkamp and Nicole Pita (voiceovers),  BulleMedia and CIDSE, an international network of Catholic social justice organisations. 


The animation was funded by the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience and the podcast by CIDSE and the European Commission.