Notes on Food Sovereignty, Social Justice, and Locality in Switzerland

Central to my experiences in Switzerland are notions of food sovereignty, sustainable land development, and market demand for food. Notoriously, Switzerland is home to high prices and cost of living standards, making for painful weekly trips to the grocery store. Consequentially, I find myself weekly (and sometimes even more frequently) at farmers’ markets throughout Geneva and across the border in France. Sprawling with vendors of cheese, pastries, olives, flowers, falafel sandwiches, fruits, vegetables, meat, crafts, and many more niches, the daily markets of Geneva offer a great deal of connectedness to producers and vendors for those who are interested in ascertaining the source of their food.

As a vegetarian aiming to eat and consume in a socially conscious manner, Geneva’s many markets and interaction spaces for learning about food production offer me a means of consuming more wisely. The social reverberations of consumer-side market decisions carry a feeling of immediacy. For example, throughout the sprawling hills and mountainsides of Switzerland, Swiss cow farmers face a strikingly high suicide rate. Living in relative isolation and facing dropping prices of Swiss milk products (as consumers shift toward buying French milk), movements have emerged to support the market power of Swiss cow farmers through socially conscious buying patterns. The immediacy of consumers’ decisions feels local, tangible, and integrated into the public consciousness. I envision myself maintaining a desire to understand the source and significance of my food, and to build consumption habits that are sustainable and just.

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