Sustainable Food Systems and Food Politics

Location: Catalyst Centre, UTSC

Date and Time: September 26, 3:30-5 pm

Local to global, calls for the creation of environmentally sustainable and socially just food systems are unprecedented. Yet, our collective ability to enact meaningful food policies and transformative agrarian change confront a web of existing and emerging  crises. This panel will explore the politics of sustainable food systems in relation to four overlapping crises: i) conflict and resistance, ii) agrarian distress, iii) environmental change and the climate crisis, and iv) chronic food insecurity. We bring together scholars with expertise on agrarian transformation, food sovereignty, and food policy from Canada and the Middle East to explore these topics in a semi-structured panel format.

Dr. Rami Zurayk, America University of Beirut
Dr. Zurayk is currently professor of Ecosystem Management in the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences at the American University of Beirut. His current research focuses on the relationship between landscapes and livelihoods, on food politics, and on local food systems. He is the co-founder of the Association for Lebanese Organic Agriculture and of Slow Food Beirut. He is on the High Level Panel of Experts for Food Security, a select panel of academics informing global strategic research on the topic of food and nutrition security; and as a member of the Conflicts and Protracted Crisis Working Group of the Civil Society Mechanism of the Committee on Food Security.

Dr. Annette Desmarais, University of Manitoba
Dr. Desmarais is Canada Research Chair in Human Rights, Social Justice and Food Sovereignty at the University of Manitoba. Her main research areas are agrarian change, rural social movements and food sovereignty. Prior to obtaining her doctorate in geography, Annette was a small-scale cattle and grain farmer in Canada for fourteen years.  She also worked as technical support to La Via Campesina for a decade and continues to conduct research with member organizations of this transnational agrarian movement. Dr. Desmarais is the author of La Vía Campesina: Globalization and the Power of Peasants that has been released in a number of languages. She is co-editor of three books on food sovereignty, including Public Policies for Food Sovereignty: Social Movements and the State. Her most recent edited book was just published this month and is entitled: Frontline Farmers: How the National Farmers Union Resists Agribusiness and Creates our New Food Future.

Faris Ahmed
Faris Ahmed is co-chair of the Food Security Policy Group (FSPG) and an active member of the civil society networks of the Committee for World Food Security (CFS), the CBD Alliance and Food Secure Canada. Faris was the Director, Policy & Campaigns at USC Canada, leading their policy work in close collaboration with ecological agriculture, biodiversity and food sovereignty networks in the South and in Canada. He has worked at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Oxfam, South Asia Partnership, and as a photographer/writer covering environmental issues. He holds an MA in International Development Studies from the University of Toronto.