Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Food Sovereignty Tour? What Food Sovereignty Tours are not. How is Food Sovereignty Tours related to Food First? Who participates in these tours? How do you arrange travel to Cuba? How is Food Sovereignty Tours funded? Can I get a scholarship to go on a tour? How can I get more information? m
Food Sovereignty Tours are educational and experiential tours that offer participants an opportunity to travel to international destinations to experience local food systems first-hand. Our tours offer a full emersion in the food cultures and agrarian politics of destination countries. Food Sovereignty Tours include meetings with key food system players such as local producers, agricultural and development NGOs, movement leaders, representatives from unions and producer associations, schools and educators, researchers, activists, journalists and policy-makers.
On each tour, local hosts provide an overview of their country’s history, culture, politics, ecology and agriculture. We also meet with specialists to provide background on specific topics relating to the tour’s theme(s). Through these encounters, Food Sovereignty Tours provide you with the tools to understand what you are seeing and experiencing as you travel. The educational talks and presentations, given by prominent local experts, aren’t meant to give you all the answers, but rather to help you ask the right questions as you meet new people and experience a new place.m
Alternative, educational travel is a way to replace feelings of apathy and hopeless with deeper understanding and empowerment. Relationship building is essential to this transformation. Thus every tour seeks to establish people-to-people ties by introducing you to individuals and communities that most travelers would never meet on their own. Through both formal and informal interactions, participants come away with an enriched understanding of the hopes, struggles, and accomplishments of the people we meet. Each delegation has the unique opportunity to travel to various cities, towns, and villages to speak with local people involved in projects and struggles related to food sovereignty. In addition, Tours often include participating in local festivals, cultural activities and celebrations. These experiences offer the chance to learn about new cultures, meet with people from various walks of life, and establish meaningful friendships and professional relationships.
Food Sovereignty Tours endow participants with a new vantage point from which to view U.S. foreign policy and understand the corporate food regime. Our tours aim to contribute an enhanced understanding of the global food system—and the way people around the world are working to make it more democratic and sustainable—to bring back to your own community, family and workplace. Food Sovereignty is an important political concept throughout the world that is still unfamiliar to many residents of the global North. Our tours hope to deepen awareness and strengthen this important movement through education, cultural immersion and solidarity.m
We are currently organizing trips to the Spanish Basque Country, Cuba, Bolivia, Italy, South Korea and Oaxaca, Mexico. Check back with us and sign up for Movements, our newsletter, to stay in the know about new trip announcements. We can also organize customized tours to these and other destinations, based on your group’s particular interests.
Food Sovereignty Tours are not about providing charity or food donations. Rather, they are about learning from people’s autonomous struggles to reclaim their food systems. Food Sovereignty Tours allow you to meet and forge solidarity with people and organizations that are working to solve food insecurity in their communities using local resources.
Food Sovereignty Tours are not culinary tours. Generally speaking, we will not eat at fine dining restaurants. Rather, many of the meals will be prepared by local people, proudly sharing their most valued local dishes. Wherever possible, we include cooking demonstrations using local ingredients or opportunities to prepare food with local people.
Food Sovereignty Tours do not present idealized versions of “authentic” local food. Global economic forces have advanced the industrialization of food and the homogenization of consumer tastes. None of our destinations are untouched by Coca Cola, McDonalds, Monsanto and other multinational brands. Many cultures’ diets have been transformed by decades of “food aid” making wheat bread and white rice staples in urban and rural households. Likewise, small farmers may use chemical fertilizers and pesticides. While all of our tours celebrate native foods, culinary traditions and sustainability, they also seek to expose travelers to the realities of the global food system.
Food Sovereignty Tours are not “fair and balanced.” Food First is a research institute and advocacy organization that supports social movements working for progressive change in the food system. We encourage people to travel with us in solidarity with these movements. Nonetheless, we do our best to expose you to a broad diversity of perspectives on each tour and encourage openness to the wide range of ideas we encounter.
Food Sovereignty Tours is a project of Food First/the Institute for Food and Development Policy. As part of its mission to end the injustices that cause hunger, Food First has been bringing farmers, activists, students and educators on educational trips for decades. Until recently, these trips have been organized internally as a way to educate members of the Food First community on a broad range of issues related to land, sustainability, social movements and food sovereignty. In early 2010, Food First launched Food Sovereignty Tours, its official educational tours program, to provide the same kind of educational and solidarity travel experiences to the public. In its first year, Food First ran Food Sovereignty Tours to Cuba, Bolivia and West Africa.m
The idea for Food Sovereignty Tours came out of a recognition of the incredible dynamism around food system activism in the U.S. and throughout the world, and the importance of creating awareness and solidarity among those movements. Over its 35-years of work, Food First has forged relationships with some of the strongest movements for food system change around the world, and has become an authoritative resource for helping people understand the root causes of hunger, poverty and environmental degradation. The combination of our vast network and our experience in education and analysis come together in Food Sovereignty Tours to provide you with an unparalleled opportunity to explore your global food system.
Our public, educational tours are open to anyone who has a genuine interest in learning about food sovereignty in the destination country, and who demonstrates adaptability and sensitivity toward different cultural realities. Our delegations often consist of a fascinating, diverse group of people, including professionals, teachers, students, activists and foodies. The diversity of our groups often offers a rich learning experience in and of itself for the entire delegation. In order to remain in compliance with US law, participation in our Cuba tours is limited to those individuals who qualify under the general license (See below)
We also offer customized tours for any group of six of more—including academic groups; business and professional groups; membership organizations; activist delegations and others. The content, dates and duration of these trips are tailored to meet the needs and interests of participants. For more information about our customized tours, click here.
Our tours are set up as educational delegations for professionals doing research. We work with Global Exchange, a licensed travel service provider, which carries out all transactions directly with Cuba and makes our travel arrangements. In order to remain in accordance with the requirements of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) you must qualify under the General license to go on our tours. We draw on a rich network of contacts across the food system to create dynamic itineraries. Food First has over 20 years of history working with Cuban farmers’ organizations and generating analysis of Cuba’s alternative food system. Global Exchange and Food First co-organized the first U.S. delegation to Cuba focused on sustainable agriculture in 1992. In the summer of 2012 OFAC issued new regulations for travel to Cuba, which continue to dictate how we organize our trips. If you have questions about eligibility or for more information on our Cuba Tours, please email Zoe, our Cuba program coordinator and trip leader at email@example.com. (She lives in Argentina so if you prefer to speak with her on the phone, email her to set up a time when she can call you from her Buenos Aires office, or call Katie in our Oakland office at (510) 654-4400 ext. 223 and she will help direct you) or click here.
Food Sovereignty Tours charges people to participate in our tours, though we offer financial assistance to selected participants. Any money we generate is used to sustain the program, create future tours, add new destinations and build our scholarship fund. Our tour fees generally include all transportation within the country, double room accommodation, trip guides, translation and interpretation, admission fees, reading materials, two to three meals daily, an orientation packet and a Food First trip leader. Trips generally range from $800 to $2,800 and last from 7 to 12 days. In all cases, unless otherwise stated in the specific information for each tour, participants must purchase their own airfare to get themselves to the host country and obtain a visa independently.
Partial scholarships are available for select applicants. We strongly encourage young food activists, farmers and people of color to apply. For more information, and to download our scholarship application, click here.
For more information about this program or any of our tours, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org You can also stay up to date about current and upcoming tours by subscribing to our newsletter, Movements, and following us on Facebook and Twitter.