The supermarkets are not made for family farmers even though they use this in their advertising. They want large operations, farmers with huge fields with the varieties that they want in the time they want it and at the price they want…it’s a space absolutely contrary to the social relationship. The family farmer is much more complex than that. They work polyculture. The crops’ cycles are linked with those of nature. The eco-system dictates the production.
Food sovereignty means that we establish this relationship between consumers and producers, to define how to fairly exchange those foods, so that you can be a farmer and I can enjoy my food, where food is no longer a merchandise but a right. The consumers deciding how do we want our agriculture to be and who should bring us our food. Food is not only important for producers. We are all consumers of food. So we’ll have to have this debate.
The supermarkets don’t facilitate this right to decide. When they become the only channel between producers and consumers they gain a lot of leverage to decide which producers will be allowed in.
The generation of my grandparents knew very well that food is something fundamental and that it’s an economic activity but back then it was unthinkable that your neighbour would be left without part of the harvest if they didn’t have anything to eat. Food was something fundamental and it was recognized socially.
Neo-liberalism has told us that food is just another merchandise like health, like happiness; everything can be bought and everything is for sale. One has to put food again into the place where it belongs: as a fundamental human right, a personal right and a collective right.
In the big cities there are options and is not a waste of time to go to the marketplace to meet people from the co-operative. On the contrary, it adds to your quality of life. People is learning a lot from the farmers. They are learning again about the cycles of nature and the local food varieties adapted to grow in the area.
It’s incredible when they tell you “the tomato has flavour”. And the tomato has seeds and these seeds can be planted. And many people save the seed and plant them on their balconies.
You’re receiving with this tomato much more than something tasty and healthy you’re receiving the human warmth, the transmission of culture, the understanding.
It moves you to search for the roots with the Land, this relationship with nature, with the “agro-culture”.
You’re not only buying a tomato but you’re buying into a social relationship with the farmer, with your colleagues in the co-operative, right? And that is investing in your happiness. It’s so simple that it sounds naïve but that’s the way it is!