Toni Guga

Here is a post from Ana Maria Rivero Santos, a Colombian researcher on food sovereignty who participated to the third Eating City Summer Campus. Before coming back to her country she had the opportunity to attend three events where food was at the core of the debate : “Terra Madre – We Feed the Planet” – WFTP-in Milan, the 7th Sustainable Food Planning Conference – AESOP 2015 and the 3rd World Forum on Local Economic Development – LED Forum;  she accepted to share some of her impressions.

Nowadays in Italy many discussions around food and food systems are having place with the participation of social movements, academia and public authorities.

During the WFTP the most remarkable element, and the core of the event, was the participation of small-scale farmers from all around the world. Through conferences, lectures, workshops and seminars they provided their perspectives on the debates around food systems sustainability – most of them addressed by the Villarceaux Declaration 2015 – such as land grabbing, food and education, food and religion and food as commons, among others. In this way the Slow Food movement has succeeded on providing voice worldwide to the traditional producers from the ‘developing’ world who for centuries have been practitioners of the “slow” way of producing food and whose knowledge and experience are in danger as a result of the industrial – and (neo)colonized- model of food provision.

Few days later, the AESOP Conference 2015 showed another approach to the food issue. Scholars, researchers and practitioners of food policy gathered to share and debate on models, instruments and experiences that improve the systems of food production and provision, considering the urban-rural linkages and the three dimensions of sustainability. The attendees, from different countries and backgrounds, had the chance to compare several strategies used in different cities worldwide and to identify similar opportunities and threats. For instance, cases of urban agriculture in cities such as Shanghai, Perugia, Detroit and Santa Cruz were presented, allowing the participants to identify complementarity and particularities of models with different aims: food security, green spaces conservation and quality air, inclusion and social fabric, therapeutic farming, etc.

Last but not least, during the LED Forum different panels were dealing with food issues. Local, regional and national authorities gathered with representatives of NGO’s and international organizations to talk about the challenges and strategies of the public agendas to improve food systems. While some speeches got stuck in the politically correct discourse, some others really introduced good practices. Besides the renowned Milan Food Policy, there were remarkable initiatives such as the family farming and short trade circuits policy from the province of Antioquia (MANA plan); and from the third sector, the solidarity economy networks for food exchange in Curitiba.

After this brief approach, it can be concluded that efforts are being done from diverse actors in order to further discuss food. However, the integration of all the actors mentioned is not complete at all and sometimes the distance between discourse and practice could seem broad.

What if small-scale farmers are invited to the academic and public debates? What if decision-makers are brought to events such as WFTP? Let’s keep the debate open!