After Hickman Family Farms Egg farm opened in Tonopah, Arizona, the son of Sonia Lopez started to get very sick. His asthma got worse and he was experiencing high temperature fevers, which eventually got so bad that Sonia and her family decided to leave their home opposite the egg farm. They tried to make their voices heard, but nobody listened.
What about the huge farm with 90,000 heads of cattle, in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin, which contaminated the surrounding environment so badly that a young boy almost lost his leg after crossing a river, because a small cut became infected?
These are just two of the several powerful stories that we heard during Slow Food Nations, this weekend in Denver, Colorado. When did we reach the point in which the economic interests of few a families outweigh the fundamental rights of hundreds of others? Can you imagine not being able to eat outside, or being forced to constantly check if the water you are using to wash clothes and dishes is contaminated with toxic dirt?
Capitalism concentrates in few hands the income of the current production system, stepping over fundamental rights: this is why talking about the impact of capitalism on food isn’t an abstract subject at all.
What is capitalism? Capitalism is how you don’t pay your bills
– Raj Patel
Capitalism has made us lose the connection with food production: we pay no attention of the cost of food when we buy it in a big supermarket and we don’t have any idea of the real and fair cost of food. Capitalism has brought us to a point in which if we have more money to spend we would usually rather buy a bag of chips and a soda, something of a symbol of integration with the world, rather than invest it in good quality food.
If we buy a bag of chips in a supermarket, which looks apparently cheap, we are actually paying a price that is several times higher than the cost of local varieties of potatoes, and we don’t even realize it
– Paolo di Croce, secretary general of Slow Food International
But we need to understand that resources on the Earth are limited and won’t last forever. Slow Food is not an option, it is the only possible future. If we don’t make active changes starting from tomorrow, the only future we are going to witness is extinction. It’s a strong statement, but increasingly, data and surveys are proving us right.
China has already come to this conclusion. In a country dominated by food scandals, industrialized agriculture, severe pollution, and very low quality food – the last congress of the communist party focused on a new concept: rural reconstruction. The party realized that they need to find a way to allow farmers to continue existing. We are talking about 600 million farmers.
To counter the impact of capitalism, let’s say it, we also have to confront white supremacy, racism and gender equality. We need to work for a system which opens possibilities to all genders and races, that guarantees a fair income, that distributes wealth equally, and that regenerates the land and gives it back to the people. With a fair distribution of the land, people can grow their own food, support their families and continue the traditions that seal a community together.
But how can we contribute to the change in our daily lives?
Knowledge is the key ingredient for change: we need to be aware of where our food comes from. We need to find time to go to farmers markets and create opportunities to meet the producers and build personal relationships with them. If we live in urban areas, we need to take time during weekends to visit local farms in surrounding rural areas, with our kids and families, to reconnect with nature. We must be curious and ask questions, we need to engage our closest friends and family members. We need to take care of our loved ones and ourselves by cooking real meals, using local and quality food, we need rediscover the pleasure of sharing a meal sitting around the same table. By doing this we are not just taking care of our families, we are taking care of future generations.
We are the ancestors of our descendants: what you are doing today is so critical for the future of everyone. We need to be good ancestors.
– Denisa Livingston. Slow Food International Indigenous Councilor of the Global North
Changes take place at kitchen tables every day in every country: The power is with the people