Date of Meeting: 13 May 2016

Meeting Organizer: Indigenous Terra Madre

ISJC Staff Present: Luke Cozens

Reporter: Luke Cozens

Which SDG does this topic cover? 2, 3, 4, 12, 13, 15

Type of meeting: Side Event to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues  

Brief summary of presentation of information made

  • Fast food and other colonial impositions on indigenous food systems are a health risk – there are particular issues with diabetes when indigenous people change food types.
  • Pope Francis has highlighted that indigenous people see food differently – not just as a commodity
  • Food is connected to indigenous peoples identity, one speaker came from “the rice people”
  • Traditional indigenous foods are being commercialized (e.g. Quinoa)
  • Food can be a symbol of sovereignty for indigenous peoples
  • Indigenous food systems are incorporated into the landscape in holistic models where plants and livestock support each other.
  • Indigenous systems often escape problems of storage or starvation. It makes people happier and the earth happier.
  • When indigenous people are denied their grazing lands it has a profound effect on their food systems and can lead to conflict and corresponding stigmas.
  • Indigenous people face stigmas at school where they are often labelled as “dumb”. However, these effects can be put down to a combination of malnutrition from westernized food and lack of diversity in schools leading indigenous children to be afraid to speak and not feeling part of school communities.
  • Where state aid provides livestock it is ineffective without appropriate teaching in how to sustainably manage the livestock. An example was given of an Amazonian community which was given cows but could only sell them as beef for a cheap one-off price before another indigenous community taught them how to get and manage milk and how to make cheese.
  • Indigenous people often reject genetically modified foods.
  • Indigenous food systems are profoundly connected – to the land, to weather patterns, to waters, to the sun etc.
  • Indigenous food tends to be a low glycemic diet leading to good physical health, but also good mental health due to lack of sugar peaks during the day.
  • Nutritional deficiencies can lead to health problems and difficulties in education.
  • Knowledge of food and medicinal plants is often passed down by grandmothers.
  • Indigenous food intrinsically promotes sustainability and meets SDG 2.
  • Protection of seeds is important to maintain good food systems

What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?

  • Indigenous communities have a lot to share about sustainable food management.
  • Indigenous school students may have particular nutritional/food-cultural needs.
  • Management of food is connected to wider concerns of stewardship of the Earth.
  • Proper concern for the food we eat is necessary to promote health and a good relationship to our wider environment.

Web links for more information

Terra Madre:
Tags: United Nations, SDG4: Quality Education, SDG3: Good Health and Well-Being, SDG12: Responsible Consumption and Production, SDG13: Climate Action, SDG15: Life on Land, SDG2: Zero Hunger