Women and the Gendered Politics of Food

Citation:

Shiva, Vandana. 2009. “Women and the Gendered Politics of Food.” Philosophical Topics 37 (2): 17-32. 

Author: Vandana Shiva

Abstract:

From seed to table, the food chain is gendered.

When seeds and food are in women's hands, seeds reproduce and multiply freely, food is shared freely and respected. However, women's seed and food economy has been discounted as "productive work." Women's seed and food knowledge has been discounted as knowledge.

Globalization has led to the transfer of seed and food from women's hands to corporate hands. Seed is now patented and genetically engineered. It is treated as the creation and "property" of corporations like Monsanto. Renewable seed becomes nonrenewable. Sharing and saving seed becomes a crime. Diversity, nourished by centuries of women's breeding, disappears, and with it the culture and natural evolution that is embodied in the diversity is lost forever.

Food, too, is transformed in corporate hands. It is no longer our nourishment; it becomes a commodity. And as a commodity it can be manipulated and monopolized. If food grain makes more money as cattle feed than it does as food for human consumption, it becomes cattle feed. If food grain converted to biofuel to run automobiles is more profitable, it becomes ethanol and biodiesel.

Topics: Economies, Gender, Women, Globalization, Political Economies, Security, Food Security

Year: 2009

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