“If we can’t control the food that we put in our mouths, what does that tell us about sovereignty?” – Prof Linda T. Smith, 2020.
Contextualise this for yourself – it’s not just about McDonald’s and what we put into our bodies. It’s about whenua, wai, rangi, whakapapa, mātauranga, mea atu. Can we control all of that if we first can’t even control what we put into our mouths? Prof Smith’s statement is just as applicable to all facets of our livelihoods.
As our National State of Emergency went from Alert Level 4 to 3, Tuesday 28 April saw lines of cars with people breaking their bubbles and their bank accounts to get their fix of fast foods. The irony in this is that it wasn’t fast at all…
This isn’t an attack or judgement on people who went cold turkey (with no choice) from fast foods for almost 5 weeks. It’s about recognising how conditioned we are to our wants versus our needs. We want McDonalds, KFC, Wendy’s, whatever – but we need sovereignty. Laced in these foods are not only substances that we shouldn’t be consuming – it’s a symbol of perpetuating consumer behaviours and a pipeline of waste production.
Considering the political, environmental and social impacts of over consumption, we need to open up to critical discourse and being challenged.
Food brings us together but also fragments us as a people. And that has everything to do with sovereignty.
While lockdown Level 4 proved to benefit the environment, that was far from the purpose of it. The messaging from our government was loud and it was clear – “stay home, save lives”. Lockdown in response to a fast-moving worldwide killer disease was about the people and that’s fair enough.
The amount of online wānanga proved to be a hit within te ao Māori. They were enriching and reconnected us with eachother, conducted through the matrix of opportunity that is the internet. We went from truth seeking, delving deep into the depths of mātauranga Māori, observing and recording nature, taking care of our taha tinana, wairua, hinengaro and whānau. We went from living by the moon to living by McDonald’s and whatever else as soon as those damn drive thru’s opened.
For 5 weeks we had no choice if we were getting in Thai, Chinese, Indian, Italian or fast foods. And if we did have the choice, it was because we would make it oursleves. The convenience was taken away from us and it was “hard” without espresso coffee and cake to fix your Monday back at work blues. When convenience was returned to us and we fell back into the consumer trap – that tells us exactly about sovereignty.
This may come as a hard pill to swallow but we need to allow ourselves to be challenged. Nothing worth having comes easy and that’s exactly what the path to sovereignty is compunded by.