Germany’s Meine Landwirtschaft (my agriculture) network brought together around 40 groups and 23,000 people in central Berlin late last month to draw public attention to the need for a better approach to food production. Called Wir haben es satt! (we’ve had enough), this annual rally focused this year on the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) reform process and coincided with the Grüne Woche (green week), an important annual event attended by ministers and representatives from European agribusiness.
More than 50 coaches brought demonstrators to the city from all over Germany, including many Slow Food members and the Berlin, Potsdam and Barnim-Oderland convivia. A tractor carried a sculpture from Bavaria, three meters high and weighing around four tons, made by sculptor-farmer Stephan Kreppold and illustrating the concept of healthy food in a healthy environment.
“Agricultural subsidies must be tied to social, environmental and animal welfare criteria,” explained Jochen Fritz, the campaign director. “This is a crucial moment, because with CAP reform, the European Union has a chance to start changing the system, with ecological reform based on a more sustainable agriculture that is fairer for both farmers and consumers. But this opportunity cannot be wasted with short-sighted policies, or we risk making future generations pay the price.”
The day before the demonstration, the participating organizations had the opportunity to make their voices heard, directly addressing European Commissioner Dacian Cioloş. The president of Slow Food Germany, Ursula Hudson, took part in the discussion, saying: “We must abandon current agricultural policies and move towards a common food policy that has a vision for the future. Food production must play a key role in society and offer a real opportunity to the younger generations. If this doesn’t happen, the future of our food is in danger, and our traditional knowledge and cultures risk disappearing.”
The German wing of the Slow Food Youth Network played an active role, organizing a “protest soup” that was served to over 8,000 people. They used a thousand kilos of ‘visually imperfect’ vegetables, collected from local farms, which would normally be refused by supermarkets for aesthetic reasons. The activists got together with DJs from the Green Music Initiative in the historic Markthalle Neun market in Kreuzberg to organize the first Schnippeldisko (“chopping disco”), and over a hundred people showed up with knives and cutting boards to help prepare the vegetables. The soup was cooked by chef-activist Wam Kat, and the end result provided a concrete (and delicious) illustration of the issues behind the demonstration.