Topic: Food and nutrition security in the age of re-emerging nationalism. Evidences from the public debate
The recent rise throughout Europe of political movements that develop sovranist and populist narratives tend to magnetise food and rural discourses revolving around topics such as food heritage preservation, ‘locavorism’, cultivated biodiversity, employment and landscape protection, food and nutrition security. The widespread emphasis on these topics is being increasingly enrolled in conservative political views, sometimes in open opposition to the free movement of people and goods. Among those topics, food and nutrition security is probably among the least investigated in its correlation with sovranist and populist narratives.
An in-depth analysis of the media debate on food and nutrition security along eight years has been applied in the countries involved in the EU-funded Transmango project (Austria, Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, Spain and UK). The project aimed at exploring vulnerabilities in the European food system and among more marginalised social groups that may determine food and nutritional insecurity. The comparative reading of the outcomes led to identify twelve perspectives from which food and nutrition security is perceived and debated: Ecological, Free trade, Quality, Solidarity, Social, Sovereignty, Technology, Wholesomeness, Food Citizenship, Individualism, Patriotism, Regulatory. The twelve perspectives have been then analyzed in their mutual relations and aggregated into competing frames shaping the food and nutrition security debates in Europe: a ‘regional sustainability’ frame and a ‘global efficiency’ one, plus two minor but emerging frames named as “food for the poor” and “state-centred”.
Some of these perspectives seem to echo the populist and nationalistic political positions. This is true in particular for the Patriotism frame (mainly identified in Nordic countries like Finland and Lithuania), in which food and nutrition security must be first and foremost granted by the strength of national production in autonomy from global market forces. This would occur in opposition to the free trade discourse or as a way to safeguard national interests in a globalized world. The role that large corporations play for national food self-sufficiency is also highlighted: they are not seen in opposition to small producers, but as key actors of an excellent national food sector to be proud of. Other perspectives, like Sovereignty, Quality and Food citizenship, present across a larger number of countries, are characterised by elements that can explicitly or implicitly support a view of food and nutrition security concerns based on self-reliance and national pride. Further studies on this aspect would shed light in similarities and differences between countries.