Food

Food policies

In every country, government policies profoundly influence what is grown, how and where it is grown, by whom it is grown, what kinds of food are available and accessible, even what people's diets will consist of. Too often, those policies favor and promote destructive production practices, unhealthy diets, food inequities, and unsustainable trade. At the same time, there are burgeoning efforts to reshape those policies to instead promote a radically different food system built upon ecological care, diversification, social justice, local and resilient webs of production and consumption, and much more.

Food policies Actions
Join or start a food policy council.
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Join or start a food policy council.

Food policy councils bring together stakeholders to build a policy framework for local food systems. Some are initiated by and embedded within local governments, and some are maintained by grassroots organizations.

Get started

Get inspired

  • The Los Angeles Food Policy Council in California started with a task force that created the city’s Good Food for All Agenda, with input from more than 200 stakeholders in roundtable sessions. The 6-minute video Los Angeles Food Policy Council shares their story and achievements.
  • The Bristol Food Policy Council in Bristol, UK launched a Good Food Plan to build a resilient food system, covering farmland protection, food culture, market opportunities, business incubation, composting food waste, and more.

Join or start a food policy council.

Food policy councils bring together stakeholders to build a policy framework for local food systems. Some are initiated by and embedded within local governments, and some are maintained by grassroots organizations.

Get started

Get inspired

  • The Los Angeles Food Policy Council in California started with a task force that created the city’s Good Food for All Agenda, with input from more than 200 stakeholders in roundtable sessions. The 6-minute video Los Angeles Food Policy Council shares their story and achievements.
  • The Bristol Food Policy Council in Bristol, UK launched a Good Food Plan to build a resilient food system, covering farmland protection, food culture, market opportunities, business incubation, composting food waste, and more.
Map out local food systems.
Expand Action
Map out local food systems.

Mapping out small farms, stores, and food access can help members of your community connect with local food suppliers. It can also reveal gaps in local food availability that might represent meaningful projects for community groups, or new business opportunities for farmers and food entrepreneurs.

Take action

Get inspired

  • The community coalition Food in Neighborhoods in Kentucky, US, created the LouFoodGuide, a spreadsheet of local farms and food pantries that others can use as a template.
  • Local Food Connect in Melbourne, Australia offers an impressive online directory of local farmers, as well as food swaps, community gardens, and food justice initiatives.

Map out local food systems.

Mapping out small farms, stores, and food access can help members of your community connect with local food suppliers. It can also reveal gaps in local food availability that might represent meaningful projects for community groups, or new business opportunities for farmers and food entrepreneurs.

Take action

Get inspired

  • The community coalition Food in Neighborhoods in Kentucky, US, created the LouFoodGuide, a spreadsheet of local farms and food pantries that others can use as a template.
  • Local Food Connect in Melbourne, Australia offers an impressive online directory of local farmers, as well as food swaps, community gardens, and food justice initiatives.
Promote food sovereignty.
Expand Action
Promote food sovereignty.

Food sovereignty is a global movement led by small-scale farmers and activists that "puts those who produce, distribute and need wholesome, local food at the heart of food, agricultural, livestock and fisheries systems and policies, rather than the demands of markets and corporations that reduce food to internationally tradeable commodities and components." Food sovereignty arose in direct opposition to the dominant regime of industrialized corporate agribuisness, which increasingly dominates food and farming around the world. The movement strives to replace that paradigm with people-powered local food systems everywhere.

Take Action

  • Get involved with and support La Via Campesina, the international peasants' movement – and the largest social movement in the world – comprising 182 local and national organizations in 81 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.
  • Learn about food sovereignty and how to support it in this primer by European Coordination Via Campesina, this synthesis report by Nyéléni Forum for Food Sovereignty, and the Food for Thought and Action Food Sovereignty Curriculum by Grassroots International.
  • Promote food sovereignty from the individual to the political level with Food Sovereignty Action Steps, by Soul Fire Farm and the Northeast Farmers of Color Alliance in the US.
  • Make a food sovereignty assessment of your community, with the Food Sovereignty Assessment Tool by First Nations Development Institute.
  • Download a template for a municipal food sovereignty ordinance from LocalFoodRules.org. Although the language in the ordinance is specific to the US state of Maine (see below) it can be easily adapted to other locales.

Get inspired

  • In 2017 the US state of Maine passed "An Act To Recognize Local Control Regarding Food Systems", which allowed municipalities to set their own rules governing food produced and sold locally. At least 73 towns in Maine have now passed food sovereignty ordinances. Learn more in The future of Maine's food sovereignty movement, an article in The Regulatory Review.
  • The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa has dozens of case studies from across the continent showing successful initiatives in areas of agroecology, land, pastoralism and seeds that are helping realize the food sovereignty vision.
  • In Agroecology, Small Farms and Food Sovereignty, Miguel Altieri explores how small-scale farms and agroecological practices are key to achieving food sovereignty everywhere, with special focus on living examples in the Global South.

Promote food sovereignty.

Food sovereignty is a global movement led by small-scale farmers and activists that "puts those who produce, distribute and need wholesome, local food at the heart of food, agricultural, livestock and fisheries systems and policies, rather than the demands of markets and corporations that reduce food to internationally tradeable commodities and components." Food sovereignty arose in direct opposition to the dominant regime of industrialized corporate agribuisness, which increasingly dominates food and farming around the world. The movement strives to replace that paradigm with people-powered local food systems everywhere.

Take Action

  • Get involved with and support La Via Campesina, the international peasants' movement – and the largest social movement in the world – comprising 182 local and national organizations in 81 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.
  • Learn about food sovereignty and how to support it in this primer by European Coordination Via Campesina, this synthesis report by Nyéléni Forum for Food Sovereignty, and the Food for Thought and Action Food Sovereignty Curriculum by Grassroots International.
  • Promote food sovereignty from the individual to the political level with Food Sovereignty Action Steps, by Soul Fire Farm and the Northeast Farmers of Color Alliance in the US.
  • Make a food sovereignty assessment of your community, with the Food Sovereignty Assessment Tool by First Nations Development Institute.
  • Download a template for a municipal food sovereignty ordinance from LocalFoodRules.org. Although the language in the ordinance is specific to the US state of Maine (see below) it can be easily adapted to other locales.

Get inspired

  • In 2017 the US state of Maine passed "An Act To Recognize Local Control Regarding Food Systems", which allowed municipalities to set their own rules governing food produced and sold locally. At least 73 towns in Maine have now passed food sovereignty ordinances. Learn more in The future of Maine's food sovereignty movement, an article in The Regulatory Review.
  • The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa has dozens of case studies from across the continent showing successful initiatives in areas of agroecology, land, pastoralism and seeds that are helping realize the food sovereignty vision.
  • In Agroecology, Small Farms and Food Sovereignty, Miguel Altieri explores how small-scale farms and agroecological practices are key to achieving food sovereignty everywhere, with special focus on living examples in the Global South.
Start a farm-to-school initiative.
Expand Action
Start a farm-to-school initiative.

Farm-to-school, also called local food-to-school (to acknowledge important non-farm, traditional food sources) is a movement focusing on directing the enormous food purchasing power of schools and universities to support local, small-scale, organic farmers and other food producers. This in turn improves children's health and nutrition, benefits the environment, and imparts a vital, holistic education about and connection to food.

Take action

In the US:

In Canada

Get inspired

  • The Mouans-Sartoux’s Municipal Farm-to-School Program in France involved a town council purchase of an old farm estate that was slated for development and designation of over 100 hectares of land in the area as protected farmland. The municipality also set a goal that 100% of the food served to children in the region’s public schools should be local and organic, and updated their procurement policies to make it easier for small producers in the area to meet school catering needs.
  • In Five Things We Can Learn from Brazil’s School Meal Program, Colleen Kimmett reports on how Brazil spends over $1 billion per year on its national school food program, which stipulates that at least 30 percent of food purchased for the program must come from small family farmers, providing "an incentive for farmers to organize in co-operatives so they can meet schools’ demands for large quantities of high quality produce."
  • The Brazil school food program has informed the Purchase from Africans for Africa program, linking smallholder agriculture with school feeding through local procurement for hundreds of schools in numerous African countries. It has also influenced the Sustainable Schools program in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • The farm-to-school movement in Canada is connecting students to healthy, local foods in hundreds of schools across the country, and supporting local food producers with some $16 million in annual spending, according to the Benefits of Farm to School report from Farm to Cafeteria Canada. In Quebéc, under the government's bio-food program, participating schools sourced up to 87% of salad bar ingredients from local producers, as shown in Salad Bars Bring Local Food to School: Recognizing Local Procurement in 9 Quebéc Schools.
  • Farm to school programs benefit local economies and farmers, public health and nutrition, and the environment. Read more in The Benefits of Farm to School from the National Farm to School Network in the US.
  • In 2021, the National Farm-to-School Institute at Shelburne Farms in Vermont, US, secured $5 million of federal funding.
  • In The Next Chapter for Farm to School: Milling Whole Grains in the Cafeteria, Hannah Wallace reports that "Oregon’s legislature has been funding farm-to-school projects since 2007, when it budgeted for a permanent, full-time farm-to-school manager position. In July [2021], the legislature re-upped the Oregon Farm-to-School Grant Program, setting aside $10.2 million in funding for schools to purchase and serve Oregon-grown foods."

Start a farm-to-school initiative.

Farm-to-school, also called local food-to-school (to acknowledge important non-farm, traditional food sources) is a movement focusing on directing the enormous food purchasing power of schools and universities to support local, small-scale, organic farmers and other food producers. This in turn improves children's health and nutrition, benefits the environment, and imparts a vital, holistic education about and connection to food.

Take action

In the US:

In Canada

Get inspired

  • The Mouans-Sartoux’s Municipal Farm-to-School Program in France involved a town council purchase of an old farm estate that was slated for development and designation of over 100 hectares of land in the area as protected farmland. The municipality also set a goal that 100% of the food served to children in the region’s public schools should be local and organic, and updated their procurement policies to make it easier for small producers in the area to meet school catering needs.
  • In Five Things We Can Learn from Brazil’s School Meal Program, Colleen Kimmett reports on how Brazil spends over $1 billion per year on its national school food program, which stipulates that at least 30 percent of food purchased for the program must come from small family farmers, providing "an incentive for farmers to organize in co-operatives so they can meet schools’ demands for large quantities of high quality produce."
  • The Brazil school food program has informed the Purchase from Africans for Africa program, linking smallholder agriculture with school feeding through local procurement for hundreds of schools in numerous African countries. It has also influenced the Sustainable Schools program in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • The farm-to-school movement in Canada is connecting students to healthy, local foods in hundreds of schools across the country, and supporting local food producers with some $16 million in annual spending, according to the Benefits of Farm to School report from Farm to Cafeteria Canada. In Quebéc, under the government's bio-food program, participating schools sourced up to 87% of salad bar ingredients from local producers, as shown in Salad Bars Bring Local Food to School: Recognizing Local Procurement in 9 Quebéc Schools.
  • Farm to school programs benefit local economies and farmers, public health and nutrition, and the environment. Read more in The Benefits of Farm to School from the National Farm to School Network in the US.
  • In 2021, the National Farm-to-School Institute at Shelburne Farms in Vermont, US, secured $5 million of federal funding.
  • In The Next Chapter for Farm to School: Milling Whole Grains in the Cafeteria, Hannah Wallace reports that "Oregon’s legislature has been funding farm-to-school projects since 2007, when it budgeted for a permanent, full-time farm-to-school manager position. In July [2021], the legislature re-upped the Oregon Farm-to-School Grant Program, setting aside $10.2 million in funding for schools to purchase and serve Oregon-grown foods."
Policy action: Ban industrial fish farms.
Expand Action
Policy action: Ban industrial fish farms.

Industrial fish farms apply the deadly logic of industrial land-based farming to the oceans, raising millions of fish and other sea organisms – some of them genetically engineered – in cramped pens, dependent on huge inputs of feed, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. These oceanic factory farms also cause terrible pollution and seriously threaten native fish populations. For the future of our oceans, they must be banned.

Take action

  • Join and support the Don’t Cage Our Ocean campaign to stop industrial ocean fish farming.
  • Urge your government officials to ban industrial fish farms as has been done in Argentina, and in Washington state in the US.
  • In the US, tell your congressional delegation to support the Keep Fin Fish Free Act to ban industrial ocean fish farms, by sending this letter from the Organic Consumers Association.

Get inspired

  • In 2018, the US state of Washington banned Atlantic salmon farming, just months after netting broke apart at a fish farm off Washington's Pacific coast, releasing as many as 250,000 Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound, posing a threat to native salmon. Read more in this NPR story.
  • In 2021 the southernmost state in Argentina, Tierra del Fuego, unanimously passed legislation banning open net salmon farming. Since the seas around Tierra del Fuego are the only Argentine region where salmon farming takes place, the law effectively banned it country-wide, making Argentina the first country to ban salmon farming. Read more in this Buenos Aires Times article.

Policy action: Ban industrial fish farms.

Industrial fish farms apply the deadly logic of industrial land-based farming to the oceans, raising millions of fish and other sea organisms – some of them genetically engineered – in cramped pens, dependent on huge inputs of feed, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. These oceanic factory farms also cause terrible pollution and seriously threaten native fish populations. For the future of our oceans, they must be banned.

Take action

  • Join and support the Don’t Cage Our Ocean campaign to stop industrial ocean fish farming.
  • Urge your government officials to ban industrial fish farms as has been done in Argentina, and in Washington state in the US.
  • In the US, tell your congressional delegation to support the Keep Fin Fish Free Act to ban industrial ocean fish farms, by sending this letter from the Organic Consumers Association.

Get inspired

  • In 2018, the US state of Washington banned Atlantic salmon farming, just months after netting broke apart at a fish farm off Washington's Pacific coast, releasing as many as 250,000 Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound, posing a threat to native salmon. Read more in this NPR story.
  • In 2021 the southernmost state in Argentina, Tierra del Fuego, unanimously passed legislation banning open net salmon farming. Since the seas around Tierra del Fuego are the only Argentine region where salmon farming takes place, the law effectively banned it country-wide, making Argentina the first country to ban salmon farming. Read more in this Buenos Aires Times article.
Policy action: Support land reform.
Expand Action
Policy action: Support land reform.

Land reform is a global movement to reverse the growing inequality of land ownership that concentrates more and more land into fewer hands, depriving millions of people of the ability to secure livelihoods as small-scale farmers. Land reform efforts, such as those demanded by the international peasant’s movement, La Via Campesina, aim to equitably distribute land in all countries to enable and support small-scale peasant farmers.

Take action

  • Explore the various toolkits to support land reform for agroecological farming and smallholders' livelihood security put together by the International Land Coalition, covering everything from diverse land tenure strategies, to indigenous peoples' and community land rights, to effective actions against land grabbing.
  • Support the No Land, No Life! campaign of Pesticide Action Network Asia-Pacific, in solidarity with peasant struggles for land rights and against land grabbing and corporate land consolidation in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • In Europe, get involved with the Access to Land network of grassroots organizations securing land for agroecological farming. See examples of good practices from across the continent, and find and join a member organization on their Members page.
  • Join La Via Campesina, the international peasants' movement, and support campaigns in many countries pursuing equitable land reform for advancing food sovereignty.

Get inspired

  • In his article, Food Sovereignty and Redistributive Land Reform, Peter Rosset chronicles many forms of land reform including "land reform from below" in which millions of landless peasant farmers have successfully occupied and reclaimed millions of hectares of land in various countries, and the many positive social and environmental outcomes of this reform.

Policy action: Support land reform.

Land reform is a global movement to reverse the growing inequality of land ownership that concentrates more and more land into fewer hands, depriving millions of people of the ability to secure livelihoods as small-scale farmers. Land reform efforts, such as those demanded by the international peasant’s movement, La Via Campesina, aim to equitably distribute land in all countries to enable and support small-scale peasant farmers.

Take action

  • Explore the various toolkits to support land reform for agroecological farming and smallholders' livelihood security put together by the International Land Coalition, covering everything from diverse land tenure strategies, to indigenous peoples' and community land rights, to effective actions against land grabbing.
  • Support the No Land, No Life! campaign of Pesticide Action Network Asia-Pacific, in solidarity with peasant struggles for land rights and against land grabbing and corporate land consolidation in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • In Europe, get involved with the Access to Land network of grassroots organizations securing land for agroecological farming. See examples of good practices from across the continent, and find and join a member organization on their Members page.
  • Join La Via Campesina, the international peasants' movement, and support campaigns in many countries pursuing equitable land reform for advancing food sovereignty.

Get inspired

  • In his article, Food Sovereignty and Redistributive Land Reform, Peter Rosset chronicles many forms of land reform including "land reform from below" in which millions of landless peasant farmers have successfully occupied and reclaimed millions of hectares of land in various countries, and the many positive social and environmental outcomes of this reform.
Policy action: Ban industrial farms.
Expand Action
Policy action: Ban industrial farms.

Big, corporate industrial farms cause ecological destruction, and are often guilty of egregious abuses of both animals and workers. Because these costs are paid by others – and because these corporate farms are so heavily subsidized by governments – they produce food at costs that are driving small-scale, agroecological farms out of business. To achieve a sustainable, just, and fair future, industrial farms must be banned.

Take action

  • The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) shows you how to ban factory farms in your town through Democracy School, a free online course for building a legal case against industrial agriculture, fossil fuel extraction, and other corporate industry on the basis of the rights of nature.
  • Reach out to CELDF for free and low-cost legal and campaign support services.
  • Animals Australia describes the steps needed to end factory farming of livestock in Australia.
  • Sign this petition to ban factory farming in the UK.
  • In the US, send this message from Food & Water Watch, or this letter from the Center for Food Safety, to your member of Congress to support the Farm System Reform Act, which would ban factory farms and help them transition to smaller, environmentally sustainable operations.

Get inspired

  • The citizens of Todd Township in Pennsylvania, US, banned industrial farms from their town with help from CELDF. Read more in the article Pennsylvania Township Bans Corporate Industrial Farming from the Organic Consumers Association.
  • The government of Ecuador has included a Rights of Nature clause in its national constitution, providing a legal basis for challenging factory farms and other destructive industries on the basis of rights violations.

Policy action: Ban industrial farms.

Big, corporate industrial farms cause ecological destruction, and are often guilty of egregious abuses of both animals and workers. Because these costs are paid by others – and because these corporate farms are so heavily subsidized by governments – they produce food at costs that are driving small-scale, agroecological farms out of business. To achieve a sustainable, just, and fair future, industrial farms must be banned.

Take action

  • The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) shows you how to ban factory farms in your town through Democracy School, a free online course for building a legal case against industrial agriculture, fossil fuel extraction, and other corporate industry on the basis of the rights of nature.
  • Reach out to CELDF for free and low-cost legal and campaign support services.
  • Animals Australia describes the steps needed to end factory farming of livestock in Australia.
  • Sign this petition to ban factory farming in the UK.
  • In the US, send this message from Food & Water Watch, or this letter from the Center for Food Safety, to your member of Congress to support the Farm System Reform Act, which would ban factory farms and help them transition to smaller, environmentally sustainable operations.

Get inspired

  • The citizens of Todd Township in Pennsylvania, US, banned industrial farms from their town with help from CELDF. Read more in the article Pennsylvania Township Bans Corporate Industrial Farming from the Organic Consumers Association.
  • The government of Ecuador has included a Rights of Nature clause in its national constitution, providing a legal basis for challenging factory farms and other destructive industries on the basis of rights violations.
Policy action: Oppose "free trade" agreements.
Expand Action
Policy action: Oppose "free trade" agreements.

Free trade is shorthand for the process of removing government regulations on corporate trade and investment, thereby "freeing" global corporations and banks to do business and extract profits across borders. Free trade is powered by trade and investment treaties, institutions like the World Trade Organization, and a system of arbitration courts that effectively grant more rights to corporations than to citizens or their governments. Free trade is one of the primary drivers of corporate globalization and concentration of power, and one of the most serious threats to local democracy and local economies. To achieve resilient and just localization, we must work to scrap the free trade regime, and rewrite international rules to protect local economies, cultures, and environments.

Take action

Note: the nature of political action is fluid and dynamic, and it's necessary to seize the moment. Even if particular actions below have reached completion, please check back with the organizations to participate in their latest campaigns!

  • See how-to guides on holding a town hall meeting on trade issues, organizing an event about free trade, and holding your elected officials accountable with Citizen Trade Campaign's Activist Resources (US).
  • Sign petitions and open letters for the Stop EU-Mercosur campaign, a coalition of 450 civil society organizations opposing this treaty, which puts corporate interests above the needs of people and the planet. If approved, the agreement would exacerbate social inequalities, promote extractive, export-oriented monocultures, and undermine small farm livelihoods in South America and Europe.
  • In the UK, join a local group campaigning to stop free trade deals through Global Justice Now's map of local Groups.
  • Sign Global Justice Now's petition Stop the US Trade Deal to stop an upcoming closed-door US-UK trade deal that would lower food quality standards in the UK and open up UK public services to US corporations.
  • In Australia, get involved with the Australia Fair Trade and Investment Network's campaigns against the many existing and proposed free trade treaties between Australia and other countries and regions.

Get inspired

  • In The Defeat of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MIA): National Movements Confront Globalism, Gordon Laxer tells the story of how an international citizen's movement defeated the MIA and thus "punctured the aura of corporate globalization as the inevitable direction of history."
  • The TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) and other controversial EU free-trade deals were defeated by people power and activism, as described in this article by Molly Scott Cato, and this one by Nick Dearden.
  • International activism also defeated the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) as Arthur Stamoulis explains in this piece.
  • Maude Barlow describes how activism and alternative media combined to kill the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) in 2001.
  • Biswajit Dhar explains how a diverse movement of opposition including farmers and trade unionists forced India's withdrawal from the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership).
  • The video, Corporate Trade Deals: A History of Resistance, by The World Transformed, documents some of the most vibrant and successful anti-globalization movements.

Policy action: Oppose "free trade" agreements.

Free trade is shorthand for the process of removing government regulations on corporate trade and investment, thereby "freeing" global corporations and banks to do business and extract profits across borders. Free trade is powered by trade and investment treaties, institutions like the World Trade Organization, and a system of arbitration courts that effectively grant more rights to corporations than to citizens or their governments. Free trade is one of the primary drivers of corporate globalization and concentration of power, and one of the most serious threats to local democracy and local economies. To achieve resilient and just localization, we must work to scrap the free trade regime, and rewrite international rules to protect local economies, cultures, and environments.

Take action

Note: the nature of political action is fluid and dynamic, and it's necessary to seize the moment. Even if particular actions below have reached completion, please check back with the organizations to participate in their latest campaigns!

  • See how-to guides on holding a town hall meeting on trade issues, organizing an event about free trade, and holding your elected officials accountable with Citizen Trade Campaign's Activist Resources (US).
  • Sign petitions and open letters for the Stop EU-Mercosur campaign, a coalition of 450 civil society organizations opposing this treaty, which puts corporate interests above the needs of people and the planet. If approved, the agreement would exacerbate social inequalities, promote extractive, export-oriented monocultures, and undermine small farm livelihoods in South America and Europe.
  • In the UK, join a local group campaigning to stop free trade deals through Global Justice Now's map of local Groups.
  • Sign Global Justice Now's petition Stop the US Trade Deal to stop an upcoming closed-door US-UK trade deal that would lower food quality standards in the UK and open up UK public services to US corporations.
  • In Australia, get involved with the Australia Fair Trade and Investment Network's campaigns against the many existing and proposed free trade treaties between Australia and other countries and regions.

Get inspired

  • In The Defeat of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MIA): National Movements Confront Globalism, Gordon Laxer tells the story of how an international citizen's movement defeated the MIA and thus "punctured the aura of corporate globalization as the inevitable direction of history."
  • The TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) and other controversial EU free-trade deals were defeated by people power and activism, as described in this article by Molly Scott Cato, and this one by Nick Dearden.
  • International activism also defeated the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) as Arthur Stamoulis explains in this piece.
  • Maude Barlow describes how activism and alternative media combined to kill the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) in 2001.
  • Biswajit Dhar explains how a diverse movement of opposition including farmers and trade unionists forced India's withdrawal from the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership).
  • The video, Corporate Trade Deals: A History of Resistance, by The World Transformed, documents some of the most vibrant and successful anti-globalization movements.
Policy action: Prioritize local suppliers in procurement decisions.
Expand Action
Policy action: Prioritize local suppliers in procurement decisions.

Institutions – governments, hospitals, schools, universities, etc. – spend enormous amounts of money each year on procuring goods like food and energy. Unfortunately, much of that spending goes to large-scale profit-driven corporate entities with no real connection to the local economy. The public procurement movement aims to redirect this massive purchasing power towards more local, resilient, fair and ecological production. Public procurement – also called "green purchasing" or "progressive procurement," among other names – is a powerful and effective strategy for quickly and durably shifting food and other systems towards the small and local, as well as driving other positive environmental and social changes. It is also a way to fight back against abusive corporate practices and power.

Take action

  • Change the food procurement policies of institutions in your community with example policies from the Good Food Purchasing Program (US), and PolicyLink's Local Food Procurement - Equitable Development Toolkit (US).
  • Check out the Making Spend Matter Toolkit from URBACT, a European network of cities practicing progressive procurement. Also, see how procurement is central to the "Preston Model," in the report, How We Built Community Wealth in Preston.
  • For farmers wanting to connect with procurement programs, see ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture's Farm to Institution resources.
  • In the US, if your state does not already have a Double Up Food Bucks program that matches food stamp assistance dollars spent on fresh, locally grown food, get in touch with the Fair Food Network to learn how to bring this innovative program that boosts local farming and food security to your community.
  • If you are an employee, administrator, board member or volunteer for an institution, you can push for changes to procurement policies. Offices, schools, universities, and hospitals have all created successful programs.
  • If you are part of a community group, consider creating a campaign that focuses on pressuring particular institutions to procure food, energy, and goods from local, ethical, and sustainable sources.

Get inspired

  • The UK city of Preston has become a model for enlightened procurement policies. Read about it in this article from the European Network of Corporate Observatories (ENCO)
  • Another UK city, Manchester, analyzed its spending and then reallocated it whenever possible to towards smaller businesses in the local community. For a detailed look at Manchester's procurement policies and their impact, check out this case study from the Urban Sustainability Exchange.
  • The Odisha Millet Mission is a public procurement program instituted by the state government of Odisha, India, in collaboration with a diverse network of stakeholders in 2017. It aims to revive and promote agroecological cultivation of highly nutritious, climate-resilient millets by incorporating them into public procurement schemes like the public distribution system (PDS). As Bindu Mohanty writes in Odisha Millet Mission: The Successes and the Challenges, the program is currently sourcing from 51,045 farmers, and by 2020 "finger millet, locally known as mandia was distributed to 1.6 million households via the PDS."
  • Cook County Good Food Purchasing Program, in the Chicago region of the US, adopted the Good Food Purchasing Program as its policy in 2018, becoming the third and largest municipality in the US to do so. This aligned its food procurement policies with the core values of sustainable, equitable food systems: local sourcing, nutrition, environmental sustainability, workers’ rights, and animal welfare.
  • The Los Angeles Food Policy Council’s Good Food Purchasing Policy supports local farms, workers' rights, and kids' nutrition, as well as the broader local economy.
  • In the US city of Boston, the city council passed a groundbreaking food justice ordinance that covers everything from food workers' rights to local and sustainable food procurement to urban gardening.
  • The Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus Program in the US reimburses local farmers for donating "safe, wholesome food products" to local hunger relief efforts. In 2020-21, some 1.7 million pounds of local food was distributed to over 486,000 households in the state under the program.
  • Double Up Food Bucks is a program in many states in the US that matches the value of food assistance credits spent on healthy, fresh, locally grown food, benefiting those in need of food assistance, local farmers, and the local economy. In 2020, the program provided access to nearly 52 million pounds of fresh local food, serving about 883,000 people and benefiting some 5,000 farmers.
  • In The Next Chapter for Farm to School: Milling Whole Grains in the Cafeteria, Hannah Wallace reports that "Oregon’s legislature has been funding farm-to-school projects since 2007, when it budgeted for a permanent, full-time farm-to-school manager position. In July [2021], the legislature re-upped the Oregon Farm-to-School Grant Program, setting aside $10.2 million in funding for schools to purchase and serve Oregon-grown foods."
  • In Sweden, public sector purchasing under the Green Public Procurement policy has helped increase organic food consumption by 33% and increase organic farmland area by 16% in ten years. Read more from Urban Food Futures: In Sweden, public sector purchasing helps conversion to organic production.

Policy action: Prioritize local suppliers in procurement decisions.

Institutions – governments, hospitals, schools, universities, etc. – spend enormous amounts of money each year on procuring goods like food and energy. Unfortunately, much of that spending goes to large-scale profit-driven corporate entities with no real connection to the local economy. The public procurement movement aims to redirect this massive purchasing power towards more local, resilient, fair and ecological production. Public procurement – also called "green purchasing" or "progressive procurement," among other names – is a powerful and effective strategy for quickly and durably shifting food and other systems towards the small and local, as well as driving other positive environmental and social changes. It is also a way to fight back against abusive corporate practices and power.

Take action

  • Change the food procurement policies of institutions in your community with example policies from the Good Food Purchasing Program (US), and PolicyLink's Local Food Procurement - Equitable Development Toolkit (US).
  • Check out the Making Spend Matter Toolkit from URBACT, a European network of cities practicing progressive procurement. Also, see how procurement is central to the "Preston Model," in the report, How We Built Community Wealth in Preston.
  • For farmers wanting to connect with procurement programs, see ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture's Farm to Institution resources.
  • In the US, if your state does not already have a Double Up Food Bucks program that matches food stamp assistance dollars spent on fresh, locally grown food, get in touch with the Fair Food Network to learn how to bring this innovative program that boosts local farming and food security to your community.
  • If you are an employee, administrator, board member or volunteer for an institution, you can push for changes to procurement policies. Offices, schools, universities, and hospitals have all created successful programs.
  • If you are part of a community group, consider creating a campaign that focuses on pressuring particular institutions to procure food, energy, and goods from local, ethical, and sustainable sources.

Get inspired

  • The UK city of Preston has become a model for enlightened procurement policies. Read about it in this article from the European Network of Corporate Observatories (ENCO)
  • Another UK city, Manchester, analyzed its spending and then reallocated it whenever possible to towards smaller businesses in the local community. For a detailed look at Manchester's procurement policies and their impact, check out this case study from the Urban Sustainability Exchange.
  • The Odisha Millet Mission is a public procurement program instituted by the state government of Odisha, India, in collaboration with a diverse network of stakeholders in 2017. It aims to revive and promote agroecological cultivation of highly nutritious, climate-resilient millets by incorporating them into public procurement schemes like the public distribution system (PDS). As Bindu Mohanty writes in Odisha Millet Mission: The Successes and the Challenges, the program is currently sourcing from 51,045 farmers, and by 2020 "finger millet, locally known as mandia was distributed to 1.6 million households via the PDS."
  • Cook County Good Food Purchasing Program, in the Chicago region of the US, adopted the Good Food Purchasing Program as its policy in 2018, becoming the third and largest municipality in the US to do so. This aligned its food procurement policies with the core values of sustainable, equitable food systems: local sourcing, nutrition, environmental sustainability, workers’ rights, and animal welfare.
  • The Los Angeles Food Policy Council’s Good Food Purchasing Policy supports local farms, workers' rights, and kids' nutrition, as well as the broader local economy.
  • In the US city of Boston, the city council passed a groundbreaking food justice ordinance that covers everything from food workers' rights to local and sustainable food procurement to urban gardening.
  • The Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus Program in the US reimburses local farmers for donating "safe, wholesome food products" to local hunger relief efforts. In 2020-21, some 1.7 million pounds of local food was distributed to over 486,000 households in the state under the program.
  • Double Up Food Bucks is a program in many states in the US that matches the value of food assistance credits spent on healthy, fresh, locally grown food, benefiting those in need of food assistance, local farmers, and the local economy. In 2020, the program provided access to nearly 52 million pounds of fresh local food, serving about 883,000 people and benefiting some 5,000 farmers.
  • In The Next Chapter for Farm to School: Milling Whole Grains in the Cafeteria, Hannah Wallace reports that "Oregon’s legislature has been funding farm-to-school projects since 2007, when it budgeted for a permanent, full-time farm-to-school manager position. In July [2021], the legislature re-upped the Oregon Farm-to-School Grant Program, setting aside $10.2 million in funding for schools to purchase and serve Oregon-grown foods."
  • In Sweden, public sector purchasing under the Green Public Procurement policy has helped increase organic food consumption by 33% and increase organic farmland area by 16% in ten years. Read more from Urban Food Futures: In Sweden, public sector purchasing helps conversion to organic production.
Voices from the field

Policy

International

Europe

  • Mainstreaming Agroecology in EU Policies, by 25 European civil society organizations, “puts forward a proposal to mainstream agroecology into the policies governing EU food systems.”
  • Towards a Common Food Policy for the European Union: The Policy Reform and Realignment that is Required to Build Sustainable Food Systems in Europe, by the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems, outlines “policies that affect food production, processing, distribution, and consumption, and refocusing all actions on the transition to sustainability” including building fairer, shorter and cleaner supply chains.
  • For an agricultural and food policy at the service of the people!, by European Coordination Via Campesina, explains how the Common Agricultural Policy in Europe has promoted globalization and agribusiness, and proposes reforms for the CAP to instead promote localized, agroecological food systems.
  • Small Farmers, Big Solutions: How the CAP can help family farmers, by European Coordination Via Campesina, is a set of "tools, resources and information on the CAP which can help farmers and the general public engage with and understand the topic on a deeper level."
  • In some areas, passing public procurement policies will involve pushing back against restrictive regional or national laws that hamper or forbid your city from enacting progressive procurement. For example, in the EU, it is illegal to include geographical criteria in procurement laws, and the EU’s common agricultural policy similarly ties the hands of local governments striving to favor small, local organic farms in procurement. These laws and policies have interfered with the efforts of cities like Grenoble to procure 100 percent of school canteen food from local organic farms. As the Barcelona en Comú party expressed in its 2019 report, Municipilize Europe!, “We want a fair, plural local economy but right now the EU limits the ability of public institutions to include these criteria in public procurement. We’ll call for directives relating to public procurement to be revised in order to differentiate between national and municipal contracts, giving municipalities greater flexibility to include social and environmental clauses.”

UK

US

  • Local and Regional Food Systems is a collection of US-based policy resources compiled by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition that "provides an overview of the key federal programs focused on expanding local and regional food systems", including "programs directly available to producers, as well as programs available to community-based organizations and institutions working on the ground to build and expand on the success of local and regional food efforts."
  • Community Food Production: The Role of Local Governments in Increasing Community Food Production for Local Markets, is a policy and planning brief by Growing Food Connections.
  • Good Food, Good Laws: Putting Local Food Policy to Work for Our Communities, a legal toolkit from the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic, covers laws related to local food systems, food system infrastructure, land issues, urban agriculture, consumer access, procurement, school food, and food waste and recovery.
  • In this article, Shrareable highlights 9 Urban Food Policies for Strong Local Food Systems.
  • Check out the policy recommendations by the Institute for Local Self Reliance for states and local communities in "deconcentrating our food and farming industries, while building a robust and resilient system of family farms and local food producers and retailers." (Scroll down to the section "Taking Back State and Local Power.")
  • Promoting Access to Healthy Local Food, by the Mayors Innovation Project shows how local policies can promote and increase residents’ access to healthy food and can help develop local food capacities.
  • The Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) of the US Department of Agriculture "funds projects that develop, coordinate and expand local and regional food business enterprises ... that help increase access to and availability of locally and regionally produced agricultural products." The Local Foods, Local Places Toolkit by the Environmental Protection Agency (US) is a guide to help communities revitalize using local food systems.
  • In Doubling Up Healthy, Local Produce at California Groceries, Tori Truscheift reports on how the Double Up Food Bucks program has benefited both consumers and has "been critical to helping beginning farmers secure their financial stability by bringing a new customer base to the market".

Resources

General

  • In his book Rebuilding the Foodshed: How to Create Local, Sustainable, and Secure Food Systems, Philip Ackerman-Leist "refocuses the local-food lens on the broad issue of rebuilding regional food systems that can replace the destructive aspects of industrial agriculture, meet food demands affordably and sustainably, and be resilient enough to endure potentially rough times ahead."
  • Local Food: How to Make it Happen in Your Community, a book by Tamzin Pinkerton and Rob Hopkins, is "an inspirational and practical guide for creating local food initiatives - showing how we can restore and establish community networks to generate healthy, locally produced food."
  • From farmers' and fishers' groups, to cooperatives and unions, A Long Food Movement: Transforming Food Systems by 2045, by the ETC Group and IPES-Food, imagines what could be achieved by 2045 if we succeed in thinking decades ahead, transforming financial flows, governance structures and food systems from the ground up, and dismantling 'agribusiness as usual'.
  • Purchasing Power, by the Union of Concerned Scientists, explains how "good food procurement policies can shape a food system that's better for people and our planet."

US

  • Growing Local : A Community Guide to Planning for Agriculture and Food Systems, by Growing Food Connections and the American Farmland Trust, is "meant to help community members work with local governments to advance plans and policies to support agriculture and food production, and provide access to healthy food to all community members."
  • The Good Food Purchasing Program "transforms the way public institutions purchase food by creating a transparent and equitable food system built on five core values: local economies, health, valued workforce, animal welfare, and environmental sustainability.” 
  • In Public Procurement: The Untapped Stimulus, Michael Shuman discusses how public procurement policies can and are being used to support not only local food systems, but also small, locally-owned businesses, local renewable energy, and more, but also how much more needs to be done, and how public procurement is an example of the sort of enlightened local policy directly threatened by the corporate free trade agenda. 
  • Farm to Institution New England is “a six-state network of nonprofit, public and private entities working together to transform our food system by increasing the amount of good, local food served in our region’s schools, hospitals, colleges and other institutions.”
  • Food Justice Agenda for a Resilient Boston, by the Office of Boston (US) City Councilor Michelle Wu is one of the best and most systemic city policy agendas for food systems transformation towards the local, sustainable and equitable in the US.
  • Real Food Generation runs the Real Food Challenge pioneered the Real Meals Campaign to “expand Real Food procurement [on college and university campuses] by almost a billion dollars – exponentially scaling and expanding on the meaningful impacts.”  
  • Learn more about the positive impacts of procurement in the Real Food Generation report “8 Ways Institutional Procurement is Building a Real Food Economy”, and the harm that major cafeteria contractors bring upon communities in their report “Be-Trayed”.

Europe 

  • Food Sovereignty Now! A Guide to Food Sovereignty, by European Coordination Via Campesina, is an excellent primer on how "food sovereignty is about systemic change – about human beings having direct, democratic control over the most important elements of their society – how we feed and nourish ourselves, how we use and maintain the land, water and other resources around us for the benefit of current and future generations, and how we interact with other groups, peoples and cultures."
  • Green Public Procurement is an initiative of the European Commission to encourage European authorities to use their purchasing power to "choose environmentally friendly goods, services and works" in order to "make an important contribution to sustainable consumption and production."
  • The Procure Network explored how procurement can be harnessed to maximize local economic, social and environmental benefits. The 11 partners include cities in the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Italy. 

UK

  • Sustainable Food Places' action guides cover a range of strategies for transforming food systems towards the local and sustainable, including Food governance and strategy; Good food movement; Healthy food for all; Sustainable food economy; Catering and procurement; and Food for the planet.
  • Bristol's Good Food Action Plan 2015-2018, by the Bristol Food Policy Council, envisions a city food system "where good food is visible and celebrated at every corner and where everyone has access to fresh, seasonal, local, organic and fairly traded food that is tasty, healthy and affordable, no matter where they live."

India 

Brazil

  • The study, Structuring Markets for Resilient Farming Systems, found found a positive relationship between farmer participation in Brazil’s National School Feeding Program [Brazilian National School Meal Program (PNAE, by its Portuguese acronym)] and increased cropped area under diversified farming systems, on-farm diversification, and household autonomy as key indicators of farm household resilience, all increasing local nutrition security.