food

We never think about eating as a political act, even though our choices are directly linked to social and environmental issues. Fair production and trade, water consumption of each product we buy at the market and carbon footprint of food transportation are only a few of the concerns we should take into consideration before giving the first bite in an apparently innocent snack. The organization Slow Food International does a great work raising awareness into the civil society and promoting fair, healthy, harmonic initiatives that both respect the environment and communities. Here are highlights of their interview!

Wheat farmer in Australia
Wheat farmer in Australia

1. What is Slow Food International’s purpose?

Slow Food is committed to restoring the value of food and to grant the due respect to those who produce it in harmony with the environment and ecosystems, thanks to their traditional knowledge. Since 1996 Slow Food has started to work directly with small-scale producers in order to help them safeguard agro biodiversity and traditional knowledge through projects like the Ark of Taste, that collects small-scale quality productions that belong to the cultures, history and traditions of the entire planet and today have almost 4,500 products on board. Or Presidia, that sustain quality production at risk of extinction, protect unique regions and ecosystems, recover traditional processing methods, safeguard native breeds and local plant varieties. One of the projects Slow Food is most proud of is “10.000 Gardens in Africa”, launched in 2010. The Gardens are created by local communities who plant traditional vegetables, fruits, culinary and medicinal herbs using sustainable techniques, involving young people and drawing on the knowledge of the elderly. The aim is to promote biodiversity, value African gastronomic cultures and raise awareness about big issues like GMOs, land grabbing and sustainable fishing. Around a third of the gardens are in schools, serving as open-air classrooms with an important educational function and often supplying healthy, fresh vegetables for school meals. This, in turn, is training a network of leaders aware of the value of their land and their culture. The other gardens are run by communities, and the produce is used primarily to improve the nutritional value of the community members’ everyday diet, while any surplus is sold to generate supplementary income.

In 2004, Slow Food launched the Terra Madre network, which brings together food producers, fishers, breeders, chefs, academics, young people, NGOs and representatives of local communities from 160 countries. In a world dominated by industrial production, Terra Madre, which means Mother Earth, actively supports the small-scale farmers, breeders, fishers and food artisans around the world whose approach to food production protects the environment and communities.

2. What is your mission and vision of the world?

Slow Food was founded to counter the rise of fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and to encourage people to be aware about the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world. Slow Food envisions a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good, clean and fair. Good, because it is healthy in addition to tasting good; clean because it is produced with low environmental impact and with animal welfare in mind; and fair because it respects the work of those who produce, process and distribute it. For this reason Slow Food works to defend biodiversity and to promote a sustainable and environmentally friendly food production and consumption system; to spread sensory education and responsible consumption; and to connect producers of quality foods with co-producers (conscious consumers) through events and initiatives.

Farmer's market
Farmer’s market

3. The Slow Food movement has gained more momentum in the last years. What would you consider as the main reasons behind the increased global awareness of the way we consume food?

We think that today, due to the increasing level of illnesses related to our daily food, people are starting to realize that their actions and daily choices have a repercussion on their health. People are starting to be more accurate in their food choices, on where they buy their food, on what’s inside what they eat. Also the concerns about the environmental challenges, like climate change, has increased the attention consumers are paying to how their choices can mitigate them. The industrial food system of production and consumption is in fact the first cause of pollution, CO2 production, loss of biodiversity. Today, Slow Food involves over a million activists, chefs, experts, youth, farmers, fishers and academics in over 160 countries. Among them, a network of around 100,000 Slow Food members are linked to 1,500 local chapters worldwide.

4. Are you committed to the Sustainable Development Goals or do you address some of the SDGs with your projects?

Some of the Sustainable Development Goals share our philosophy and our aim. Our philology, good, clean and fair tackles several SDGs, naming good health and wellbeing, responsible production and consumption, decent work and economic growth. We are working to address the huge problem of food waste, by organizing events like Disco Soup through our Young network, where people cook only food that would have been thrown away. That means that we are trying to help reach the zero hunger goal and that we vision sustainable cities and communities that would weigh as less as possible on the environment. Industrial animal production (linked to high levels of meat consumption) is responsible for 14% of greenhouse gas emissions, if we take into account the whole chain from food production to final consumption. Similarly, aquaculture consumes immense quantities of fishmeal, pollutes the water and, in many parts of the world, is responsible for the destruction of wide swathes of mangrove forest. On 2015 Slow Food launched an appeal called “Let’s not eat up our planet! Fight Climate Change” which aimed to sensitize the public on how much the agriculture weights on the climate change issue. Also for the “life on land and below water”, we are really sensitive about animal wellbeing, and we organize every two year an event called Slow Fish completely dedicated to sustainable fisheries and marine ecosystems.

Slow Food International has built a network with chefs worldwide
Slow Food International has built a network with chefs worldwide

5. Do you think food industries are getting more committed to producing food with less environmental, health and social impact? What are your main challenges to get them on board?

We have recently seen an increase of attention regarding these aspects. If industries are interested in finding more sustainable solutions for the environment and the health (in a serious way and not for marketing reasons) we are ready to facilitate the process and give advice.

6. Horyou is the social network for social good. What’s the importance of internet and social media to spread the message of movements like Slow Food and other positive initiatives?

We think that internet is a fundamental tool that can be used to share ideas, visions and experiences all over the world. For example people, especially youngsters and producers, could share their experiences to see how a same problem is tackled in different areas of the globe. Conversely, we don’t think it’s a useful tool if it takes place of human interactions and communications.

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

Chaque année, aux quatre coins du monde, un grand repas est organisé pour réunir des communautés autour d´une table fournie de produits de paysans et pêcheurs locaux. Avec cette proposition durable qui affiche un but social, le projet The Meal – Association Un repas pour notre Avenir est un réseau de partage, de transfert de compétence et de soutien au développement régional. Dans cette interview, le fondateur Michel Bauman nous parle de ses projets et sa mission:

The Meal au Benin
The Meal au Benin

1.    Pouvez-vous nous présenter brièvement The Meal? 

L’association a pour but de proposer une large réflexion sur notre relation avec les seuls garants de notre énergie vitale: les paysans et les pêcheurs. Nous soutenons également des projets en phase avec leurs problématiques locales. Notre action principale consiste à organiser un grand repas qui se déroule à ce jour simultanément sur quatre continents, ce sont 96 lieux qui ont déjà participé à cet événement global. Dans la majorité des cas, c’est une opportunité de collecte de fonds.

2.    Y a-t-il eu une réalisation qui a eu une importance toute particulière pour The Meal durant ces dernières années? 

Chaque réalisation a son importance, il est cependant très encourageant de constater que d’importants transferts de compétences entre la Colombie et le Népal ont eu lieu dès 2014 qui démontrent à nos amis vivants sur les contreforts de l’Himalaya qu’ils peuvent cultiver avec un très bon rendement à une altitude de plus de 4000m grâce à une technologie mise au point depuis des siècles par les indiens des hauts plateaux andins.

The Meal au Pakistan
The Meal au Pakistan

3.    Avez-vous un projet que vous espérez mettre en place prochainement et dont vous souhaiteriez nous parler?

Nous souhaitons communiquer de façon originale et interactive à travers de nombreux réseaux de partenaires des messages constructifs en relation avec les 17 objectifs du développement durable. Ce concept sera mis en route lors de l’événement de 2016 à Genève puis sera généralisé.

4. La sécurité alimentaire est une grave préoccupation, étant donnée la croissance démographique et le réchauffement global. Quelles sont vos projets sur ce sujet?

La prise de responsabilité de la société civile est indispensable face à ces réalités. L’événement The Meal est un vecteur de sensibilisation et de prise de conscience de notre intelligence collective; nous essayons ainsi humblement et en confiance de trouver les pistes dévoilant les solutions acceptables pour notre avenir.

The Meal au Cameroun
The Meal au Cameroun

5.    Que pensez-vous d’Horyou et de sa communauté dont vous êtes un membre actif ? Qu’est-ce que la plateforme vous apporte dans le cadre de votre action?

De plus en plus de membres actifs de cette belle plateforme interagissent avec notre mouvement, dès les premières heures Horyou a été aidante à l’égard de nos actions, nous nous réjouissons de ces belles complémentarités.  

6.   La philosophie d’Horyou s’articule autour de valeurs universelles que nous retrouvons dans le slogan « Dream Inspire Act ». Qu’est ce que ces 3 mots évoquent pour vous et votre organisation?  

Un projet débute toujours par un rêve… Rêvons donc, projetons nous dans le futur! Le temps de travail de chacune et chacun a diminué, nous avons donc plus de temps à consacrer à la recherche d’une nourriture de qualité. Ayant drastiquement diminué nos achats d’aliments venant de pays lointains, ce commerce international périclite. Dans les pays émergents les terres sont rendues aux coopératives de paysans et les lieux de pêche aux locaux. L’infime minorité de financiers malades, addicts de richesses qu’ils n’avaient probablement pas découvertes en eux, abusant de bas pouvoirs spoliateurs nous menaient droit dans le mur ; ils sont maintenant en phase de sevrage. Bien des réfugiés économiques retournent sur leurs terres, la centaine de millions de réfugiés climatiques résultant en partie de notre mode de consommation antérieur depuis de nombreuses décennies sont accueillis naturellement là où la terre nourricière peut les recevoir. Nous savons maintenant que faire du 30% de la nourriture que nous jetions à la poubelle en 2016… Nous avons pris conscience que l’humanité est depuis toujours en migration permanente, nous reprenons le contrôle de notre avenir de façon plus objective et plus sereine. Nous savons de nouveau être part intégrale de la nature.

The Meal Dakar
The Meal Dakar

7.    Si vous pouviez partager un message avec l’ensemble des membres de la communauté Horyou, quel serait-il?

Aimons la Vie de la même façon que nous désirons être aimés

Écrit par Vívian Soares

Meal_Alternatiba_1

Version Française ici

The weekend 19th to the 20th of September in Geneva marked the yearly Alternatiba Léman Festival which was centered on the theme of promoting local initiatives for climate change and the art of positively living together. The Festival hosted conferences and debates, as well as food and clothing stands, music, movie projections and local food products. It took place on the sunny Plaine de Plainpalais, a prominent square within the city of Geneva, with events also held at the house of associations and the communal hall of the Plainpalais neighborhood.

The Festival gathered around 500 people in support of local farmers, local merchants and helpful sustainable living in Geneva and the surrounding areas. It was a true embodiment of local actions for climate and the joys of connecting for a positive lifestyle. Horyou collaborated with the association and supported its “The Meal” initiative, a lunch cooked with locally produced agricultural products, with the idea to gather a large number of people from across the world to share a Meal in support of farmers and their plea for food sovereignty and access to resources, soil, water and seeds.

THEMEAL_inarticle_ALT

“The Meal” was held simultaneously in about 20 other locations worldwide, with the same goal of promoting consumption of local products. In Geneva, it delighted 200 people on the Plaine and consisted of long tables filled with fresh tomatoes, salads, gazpachos, fresh fruits and vegetables, sauces and pasta.

“The Meal”, a truly unifying power in its ideals and encouragement throughout the world, was thus the occasion for all participants to get together, share thoughts and build solidarity within their communities, on the spot, as well as via Skype conversations. Geneva connected with Mali – led by Aminata Touré -, Morocco – led by Nicole Jeffroy -, Nepal – led by Jagat Basnet -, and Pakistan – led by a young university student called Irene Farkhanda -, to mention but a few locations.

Proceeds from “The Meal” went to various nonprofits in Geneva and in Benin, as the Festival had a dedicated area for local nonprofits and various organizations. Horyou had a stand as well, and so did some of the organizations on the Horyou platform, such as One Action and Voix Libres. The event went on through Sunday with even more participants and visitors. We look forward to seeing bigger local agricultural food tables, and more Meals shared in more locations across the world at next year’s festival.

By Amma Aburam

Action1

Each day we see the wonderful work of our Members, Personalities and Organizations on the Horyou platform. They are always Ready to Act! This week, we highlight the work and actions of great Organizations from Cameroon and Switzerland.

by Amma Aburam

1) Bringing “insects” to the Swiss Food market

Association: GRIMIAM
Location: Switzerland

The Association GRIMIAM has a unique and valuable mission for the future of a more sustainable planet and sustainable food practices. Its main action is to create awareness and legalize the consumption of insects, starting in Switzerland. Increased world population means greater pressure on the environment, increased use of land and higher demands of nutrients and non-renewable energy. Innovative production solutions are needed. Insect raising systems do not require a lot of land, insects are rich in high quality protein, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, to name a few advantages. The Association’s next action is to defeat the “yuck” factor we have been brought up with in the West towards insect consumption.

Participate here

Action2

2) Don de Fournitures Scolaires

Association: Travailler pour la dignité des personnes a mobilité réduite
Lieu: Douala, Cameroun

L’association Travailler pour la Dignité des personnes à mobilité réduite au Cameroun organise dans le but de leurs objectifs éducatifs un don de fournitures scolaires afin de promouvoir et rendre possible l’éducation dans leur communauté. L’association est composée d’un groupe d’artistes handicapés, des individus exemplaires qui prouvent qu’un handicap n’empêche pas de donner de soi aux autres, que cela peut devenir un encouragement et une inspiration autour de soi. Ils contribuent à la communauté avec ce type de petites actions qui ont un impact positif sur la vie quotidienne au sein de Douala.

Participez à l’action ici

IsegeretotoSchool-3

Scarcity of food is one of the most pressing issues of this century. Access to healthy food at a reasonable price can be an obstacle to the well-being of children from modest backgrounds. Since the 1980s, food prices have constantly increased, especially in Africa, where income inequality leads to an inability to earn money and people often resort to a barter economy. Consequently, in sub-Saharan schools, children sometimes come to school on empty stomachs, and since the prices are very volatile on the food market, the cost for the school to feed the children is a real challenge. Many people have abandoned traditional foods in this area, and people are starting to forget indigenous varieties of plants.

Enter Julien Kauer, who wants to raise awareness and encourage the use of local food sources. Kauer, from Switzerland, created a project to lead the Isegeretoto School in Western Kenya to self-sufficiency.

Please tell us about the project.

It’s an organic farming project called Food Sovereignty at Isegeretoto School, Kenya. It’s my second time coordinating an organic farming project at Isegeretoto School, a primary school of around 300 children in Malaba, Kenya. The second project started in February 2015, and our aim is to produce enough to fulfill the need of the school in terms of food: cereals, vegetables, fish, milk, oil and mushrooms. The food self-sufficiency will allow the school to reduce the school fees to increase the access to a quality education for children in our basically rural area.

IsegeretotoSchool-4IsegeretotoSchool-1

What is your strategy?

We base our techniques on organic farming, as we believe that it can enable us to preserve our soils for the future. It will provide healthier food for our children because we only use natural means to grow the food. We rely only on available means to ensure the food security of our school. In our region, even the mechanization, so to say, is unavailable: The whole work of plowing, fertilizing, planting and weeding is done by hand. This also is a step toward food sovereignty, as by using simple means, we master the whole chain of work. In addition, the use of a tractor brings the risk of expensive repairs, which could easily bankrupt a farmer in our rural area.

What are the results of your approach so far?

We have been very successful in all the goals we have set. We’re almost finished planting and fertilizing our fields, and we have started working together with around five different agricultural institutes of Kenya. We have employed many people from the region, whereby we taught them practical techniques we are using. We’ve also founded an environmental club in the school that enables children to participate in activities on the ground with us.

IsegeretotoSchool-5

Do you have media to share with the community?

Yes, I’ve started a Youtube channel that presents in a very concise and inclusive way our activities from week to week through short videos. And I have to say, the video media, but overall every kind of 2.0 media, is a real chance for a small initiative like ours to have visibility. It allows us to get support from all over the world in a few clicks, and other people starting those kinds of initiatives can see us and interact in a very constructive approach.

What are your plans for the future?

For now, our aim is to build two traditional houses for mushroom production and to start planting the indigenous trees that we’ll implement in our agroforestry fields. We’re going to introduce 1,000 fingerlings by next week. We also want to increase our fish production, which provides a quarter of our needs in fish, so we’ll continue with the fishpond we have. Finally, when we have enough funds, we’ll start renovating the three other fishponds that are now out of use.

by Vincent Magnenat

IsegeretotoSchool-2

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