Whether you like it or not, food is political. Particularly in Europe, food policies have a huge impact on what ends up on our plates. This month the Slow Food Youth Network (SFYN) Europe is letting everybody know just how important it is to vote in the upcoming European elections!
In the lead-up to the European Parliament elections from May 23-26, SFYN Europe, Slow Food Europe, and the Global Shapers community are working together to coordinate the month-long #FoodisPOLITICS and #votewithyourfork campaigns, featuring a range of events and actions aimed at raising awareness about the importance of voting. They are hoping to encourage EU citizens to revive public participation in policy-making, letting lawmakers know that their policies need to be linked closely with the demands of their citizens.
These elections could have a significant impact on the future of food in Europe. European policy affects all stages of the food system, but the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) – which is by far the biggest item in the EU budget – is the most obvious example. The next funding cycle for the CAP will begin in 2021. These elections will determine the political composition of the new Parliament, which will continue to discuss the structure, direction, regulations, policies, and funding of the next CAP.
That makes voting in these 2019 elections a prime opportunity to show policy-makers that we want politicians who are serious about campaigning for a good, clean, fair, sustainable food system. The system that supports marginal rural areas and attracts younger generations to farming, rather than one that awards the most significant subsidies to those with the biggest land area and allows the number of farms in Europe to drop by more than one quarter between 2003 and 2013 alone. The system that prioritizes concrete measures on things like plastics and GMOs to help protect plant biodiversity and marine systems, rather than one that has contributed to the loss of 75% of plant biodiversity and the degradation of 45% of European soils now deficient in organic matter. The system that addresses the fact that many chronic diseases are caused by our diet, and which stands for firm policies on climate change. And finally, the system that removes conflicting agendas and works together with other policy areas to tackle pressing issues in new and innovating ways.
SFYN has started its activities for the European Elections on April 27 with World Disco Soup Day, and it keeps the momentum going with a wide range of events. Public demonstrations and photo actions have been organizing in Leipzig, Germany and Genoa, Italy during Slow Fish festival, where dozens of SFYN members made a statement: “think over a hundred young people holding discarded plastic items, forks, and flags to represent the harm we are doing to our oceans and our fish around the world.”
Days before the elections, in front of a supermarket in Copenhagen, SFYN members will stage a peaceful eat-in demonstration and a discussion on how politics influences the food system; and in the Netherlands, SFYN members will also make a statement on supermarkets — quite literally — by using ‘reverse graffiti’ techniques to write ‘Vote with your fork!’ by cleaning the letters away from dust, dirt, and grime on the building. SFYN will also post facts, photos, videos, and informative information online along the way, and during the days of voting (May 23-26).
In other words, there will be a lot of things going on this month to remind you about the European elections! And there are plenty of good sources for more information on food and farming in Europe if you’re interested to read more. The main thing to remember, though?
Slow Food Youth Network