By Carlos Soledad *
We are what we eat, declared the German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach in 1850. The father of anthropological atheism used this phrase to defend the right of the popular classes to a good diet. In those days the propaganda of the Church claimed that we should only worry about nourishing the soul, that it did not need physical food. Today, in the midst of the crisis of modernity, deciding what goes into our mouths still involves individual and collective acts of rebellion capable of radically disrupting the status quo.
Although the production of food is sufficient for all humanity and food is defined as a human right, one billion people in the world go hungry. This chronic malnutrition is the leading cause of death from hunger in the world. According to the United Nations, 20 thousand people die of hunger every day, and 75 percent of the victims are girls and boys under five months of age.
Food does not arrive because the international agri-food system decides so. You can't afford it, you can't eat it. It is about a handful of governments and oligopolies on a global scale that decide the price of food, its quality and are very belligerent against the emergence of alternatives. Their practices are varied: massive purchase of land, imposition or lifting of tariffs, price speculation and many others. True to neoliberal industrial logic, they poison our food from the countryside and torture animals to produce more with less. The recent purchase of Monsanto - the multinational champion in the business of transgenic seeds - by Bayer - number one in pesticides - represents a further twist on this model.
Despite the multiple crusades of global institutions to eradicate it, hunger does not stop.
For the social movements below, it is increasingly obvious that charitable responses and national and international bureaucratic programs are insufficient and even counterproductive to eradicate hunger and feed ourselves adequately. People increasingly realize that the way of thinking behind traditional approaches does not match what actually needs to be done. Thus, a new framework of thought has been building from the collective experiences of autonomous struggle, fostering a rebellious diet.
La Via Campesina
With 23 years of life, La Via Campesina continues to be the movement of reference. With a decentralized structure and a clear feminist perspective, it represents more than 200 million peasant women and men from Africa, Asia, Europe and America. Promoter of the concept of food sovereignty and against agribusiness, it is committed to small-scale and local agriculture as a promoter of justice and dignity. One of its most visible members is the Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) in Brazil, with a million and a half members. Among his methods of struggle, the occupation of unproductive lands to regenerate them stands out, turning them into the seed of new generations of self-sustaining communities.
Slow Food is another international movement that is gaining momentum. It emerged 30 years ago in opposition to the construction of a McDonald’s in Rome, Italy. He raised a deep criticism of the fast food trend and the importance of a gastronomy that takes into account the entire food circuit, from the land to the mouth. Originally criticized for focusing on the taste of the elites, Slow Food began to incorporate among its approaches, in addition to a tasty –good– diet that is ecological –clean– and economically sustainable for producers –just–. Among its main projects is the protection of the food heritage in extinction, the promotion of zero kilometer restaurants –with local and organic dishes– and the support of small producers around the world who meet every two years with other actors in the great event Terra Mother. It currently has a presence in more than 150 countries, organized locally in convivialities.
But beyond the movements of reference, individual and collective initiatives have assaulted daily life. The explosion of consumer groups and cooperatives all over the world dance to the tune of autonomy. The adoption of vegetarian or semi-vegetarian diets emphasize the health and rights of animals and Mother Earth. The opening of small businesses and ecological and local markets generate new consumption alternatives. The conquest of dead spaces in the city converted into urban gardens are the new jewels of the neighborhoods. The school canteens converted into ecological kitchens are a privileged space for alternative education. Eduardo Galeano would be glad. He wrote: It is a time of fear, who is not afraid of hunger, is afraid of food. But that time is over, we are creating a new world.Ecoportal.net