Agroecology Knowledge Hub

Culture and food traditions: by supporting healthy, diversified and culturally appropriate diets, agroecology contributes to food security and nutrition while maintaining the health of ecosystems

Agriculture and food are core components of human heritage. Hence, culture and food traditions play a central role in society and in shaping human behaviour. However, in many instances, our current food systems have created a disconnection between food habits and culture. This disconnection has contributed to a situation where hunger and obesity exist side by side, in a world that produces enough food to feed its entire population.

Almost 800 million people worldwide are chronically hungry and 2 billion suffer micronutrient deficiencies. Meanwhile, there has been a rampant rise in obesity and diet-related diseases; 1.9 billion people are overweight or obese and non-communicable diseases (cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes) are the number one cause of global mortality. To address the imbalances in our food systems and move towards a zero hunger world, increasing production alone is not sufficient.

Agroecology plays an important role in re-balancing tradition and modern food habits, bringing them together in a harmonious way that promotes healthy food production and consumption, supporting the right to adequate food. In this way, agroecology seeks to cultivate a healthy relationship between people and food.

Cultural identity and sense of place are often closely tied to landscapes and food systems. As people and ecosystems have evolved together, cultural practices and indigenous and traditional knowledge offer a wealth of experience that can inspire agroecological solutions. For example, India is home to an estimated 50,000 indigenous varieties of rice – bred over centuries for their specific taste, nutrition and pest-resistance properties, and their adaptability to a range of conditions. Culinary traditions are built around these different varieties, making use of their different properties. Taking this accumulated body of traditional knowledge as a guide, agroecology can help realise the potential of territories to sustain their peoples.

Database

The Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) programme, launched as an initiative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2002, provides international recognition to important traditional agricultural systems (including forestry and fisheries) which conserve agrobiodiversity, indigenous knowledge, culture heritage and agricultural landscapes. Today (as of August 2017), there...
Japan
Case study
2017
A movement is growing. While agroecology has been practiced for millennia in diverse places around the world, today we are witnessing the mobilisation of transnational social movements to build, defend and strengthen agroecology as the pathway towards a most just, sustainable and viable food and agriculture system. This video explores...
Video
2015
In 2019, the South Korean organic movement in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Economy and Finance. This was for the provision of environmentally-friendly food[1] to pregnant women and new mothers in Seoul, Gyeonggi and Jeonnam Province, and twenty-three...
Republic of Korea
Article
2020
The current public health crisis has shed light on one of food systems’ most pressing challenges: reaching sustainable food security for all in a way that meets environmental and socio-economic sustainability. It has further confirmed that the logic of industrial agriculture has led the food systems down an unsustainable path...
Journal article
2021
This study presents the conditions to be met for the recovery of food sovereignty in Africa and recommends that to rediscover the integrated approach to agriculture and food systems, there is a need to build resilience and support the strategies of the various actors.
Report
2021