Resilience and Self-Reliance in Canadian Food Charter Discourse

Authors: ,


This article interrogates the rhetoric of “self-reliance” as a common feature of discourses about individual and community resilience by examining Canadian food charters in the context of regional food systems aimed at improving community food security. Despite the association of food charters with alternative food systems and progressive politics, we find that their ambiguous and shifting appeals to self-reliance largely conflict with their stated social justice goals of community food security, particularly the goal of alleviating the distress of food insecurity for vulnerable community members. Overall, we argue that the rhetoric of self-reliance in Canadian food charters primarily perpetuates a neoliberal ideology of resilience that promotes an active, enterprising ethos of responsibility for one’s own well-being, whether at the level of individuals, communities, or food systems. Our study thus contributes to critical scholarship that contextualizes and problematizes specific sites and practices of resilience discourse.

Keywords: food activism, food security, resilience, rhetoric, self-reliance, social justice

How to Cite: Spoel, P. & Derkatch, C. (2020) “Resilience and Self-Reliance in Canadian Food Charter Discourse”, Poroi. 15(1). doi: