Future Traditions

a project supported by
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overfishing
V
reviving local food
Understand the food you eat: rethink your consumption, reconnect to your local food, and revive indigenous ecological knowledge.

Krishna Suvarna, Malpe

The Solutions

Keywords

Traditional Ecological Knowledge
Localised Food Systems
Seasonal Food
Local Food Culture

integrating Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) into our systems

Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) is the cumulative body of local knowledge that a people group passes down through generations. Often tied to religion, ethics and cultural worldviews, TEK is rooted in a deep understanding of place. Through a long history of living close to the land, locals can develop complex and holistic understandings of natural rhythms, ecosystems and land management that hold immense value in healing modern human-nature dysfunctions. There's a wealth of TEK anywhere in the world — in places as different as the Amazon and the Alps — but the concept of TEK becomes particularly important to understand in the context of tribal and indigenous people, whose culture has been oppressed and undervalued by settlers societies and colonialism. We must actively platform the unique contributions of indigenous knowledge in preserving harmonious and sustainable relationships to the ecosystem, from protecting our ice caps, fish stocks, forests, and much more.

reviving local food systems and forgotten indigenous food knowledge

You cannot study a culture without understanding the role food and food production has on all levels of the community — food is culture, identity, heritage, and place. Modern urban life has distanced from our food and land, so we have a lot to learn from traditional knowledge of local food systems. Healthy nature and ecosystems go hand in hand with a vibrant cultural food heritage that preserves genetic plant diversity, supports local livelihoods, and nurtures the soil. Unfortunately, a lot of these indigenous techniques, from agroforestry to sustainable aquaculture, have been forgotten in favour of industrialised exploitation of the land. Localised food systems have huge benefits, not only from the point of view of taste and abundance, but also from the perspective of community building, diversified economies, civic engagement, and climate resilience. Our food futures look a lot like our past: with shorter supply chains, strong communities, traditional techniques, closer producer-consumer relationships, and respect for the ecosystem.

eating seasonal 0 km slow food

Our eating customs as a society have a huge impact on our culture, identity, health and environment. There are many approaches to eating more sustainably, but the Slow Food movement is one particularly close to a traditional relationship to food. Started in Italy in the 1980s, the Slow Food movement is underpinned by the particular eco-gastronomic traditions of Italy, which is characterised by a diversity of regional cuisines, unique local produce, fresh ingredients, and mealtime conviviality. The stress is on authenticity: a sustainable food and community culture for generations to come. A concept deeply tied to this is "0 km food": food that has not traveled far before being eaten, is traded directly with no middle-men, and preserves the unique flavours of its terroir (i.e. the complete natural environment and soil characteristics in which it is produced). The Slow Food movement's principles are Good, Clean and Fair, and focus just as much on flavour and positive food cultures, as on ecology, biodiversity, and ethics.

The Actions

Learn

Learn about Traditional Ecological Knowledge

1 hr
£
free

Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer, author, scientist, Professor and the Director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, explains Traditional Ecological Knowledge, and her work to introduce it to the scientific community.

Read a book about localised food production

4-7 hrs
£
16

In his book, Small Farm Future, farmer and social scientist Chris Smaje argues for organising society around small-scale farming, explaining how low-carbon, locally self-reliant agrarian communities can empower us to successfully confront the climate and ecological crisis.

Read the book Braiding Sweetgrass

6.5 hrs
£
15

Braiding Sweetgrass is the perfect place to start understanding Traditional Ecological Knowledge. In this seminal work, Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer argues that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgement and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world.

Support

Shaking hands as a sign of agreement

Use a guide to buy your fish

3 min
£
free

If you buy fish, then get into the habit of looking into what the most sustainable option for you is. The Marine Conservation Society has a searchable guide with sustainability ratings on over 100 varieties of seafood and quick info on what fish to avoid, or what to look out for if buying a certain species.

Support local community-led fisheries

5 min
£

In a very similar way to local farm systems, you can buy your fish direct from a small-scale producer. Community-Supported Fisheries, or CSF for short, give anyone a way to directly support small scale fishermen using sustainable and targeted fishing methods that reduce unnecessary by-catch. You don’t even have to live near the coast! There are plenty of freshwater fisheries too.

Support local farms and vegetable producers

regular
£
cheap

Buying local produce doesn’t always come with a bigger price tag and it's never been easier to support small scale, local farmers! The Soil Association (UK) have a great resource to see if there’s a community or micro-farm near you that you can support, either via a delivery box or through independent physical stores. If you’re in the US, check out the Local Harvest map instead.

Participate

A closeup of a raised fist, against a neutral background.

Volunteer with a sustainable food organisation

1 day+
£
free

No matter where you are in the world, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a local food producer or charity who could use a helping hand. There are so many different things you could do, from helping to grow or distribute food, to helping organisations with marketing, networking, or admin, and everything in between!

Lead

megaphone representing voices heard loud and clear

Empower indigenous peoples with digital skills

1 week +
£
200-1.2k

Indigenous communities have a wealth of knowledge about food systems and ecosystem resilience. Empowering these communities with digital tools is an incredibly effective way to rapidly share knowledge and ideas across the world. InsightShare has been championing this for over 20 years, why not take one of their courses to see how you can help lead the charge.

Research traditional food systems in your area

1 week +
£
free

If you feel there’s a gap in your local area, then why not lead the way in researching and spreading the word about forgotten traditions and local food in your region. It's never been easier to access information and disseminate it through social media, or just your good old fashioned physical sphere of influence (e.g. friends, family, colleagues). Read the inspiring story of Alexis Nikole Nelson to get started!

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