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Jadwiga Łopata: Food sovereignty and the family farm -- the Polish example

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So, good morning, one more time. I said it's strange for me to speak English to a Polish [audience] -- I guess, the majority. But I was asked to speak English. So, I will speak today about food sovereignty and family [farming], based on the Polish example. It's not working. So I first want to say that my talk is based on my life experiences. And I am 56 [years] old. And I grew up on a small family farm. And now I also have a family farm. I've run this farm for 15 years. And [it's also based] on the seven principles of food sovereignty from Via Campesina. A document from European Coordination Via Campesina "Towards a Common Agriculture and Food Policy 2013." Via Campesina is an international movement with 150 organizations from more than 60 countries, all over the world. And "via campesina" means "peasant way." So what is "food sovereignty"? Often, we hear from politicians, from representatives of corporations, from clerks, about food security. And they use the name "food security," and recently, very much, "genetically modified organism," GMO, to control the food chain. So, what about GMOs? Why don't we like them? All over the world, there are protests, and organizations, farmers, consumers, who are protesting against GMOs. And corporations are very heavily promoting GMOs as a solution to world hunger, and climate change, a solution to everything. It's not true. In fact, GMOs are causing not only health problems for people and animals, destroying the environment, but also causing very serious social and economic problems for small family farmers, millions of family farmers all over the world. So that's why farmers, producers and consumers, are protesting. And because of corporations pretending that they want to feed the world, and they never discuss why, in this world, where we produce enough food, we produce too much food, we destroy a lot of food, tons and tons of food are destroyed every day -- Why does hunger exist at all? And corporations are supported by big international organizations like the World Trade Organization, like the World Bank, like the International Monetary Fund. And the goal is to control food chain production. And that's why, because these are international corporations, and international organizations, also international rules have to stop it. So we have to realize that food sovereignty is a basic human right. And we are tending to forget that food, first of all, is the source of our nutrition. And then, after a long gap, it is secondarily an item of trade. And the farm is not a production line. It's a way of living. Via Campesina, in [its] seven principles of food sovereignty, says: "Everyone must have access to safe, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food, in sufficient quantity and quality to sustain a healthy life with full human dignity." Yes, "full human dignity," how far have we gone from this... And food sovereignty entails the sustainable care and use of natural resources, especially land, water, seeds and livestock breeds. Yes, we have to realize that natural resources, such as land, water, seeds and traditional animals are our common wealth, our common treasure. So, that means that we, the people, at the local level, in the local community, should decide about agricultural policy, about how we produce food, and what we produce, and what we will eat every day. Like here, in this picture, we are eating great food, made from vegetables collected just one hour before from the field, and cooked and served very nicely. So the basic food should be produced locally, where possible. And then, low-cost imports shouldn't be allowed. And international rules should support this approach. It seems like it is a very simple solution to produce food for local needs, for the local community, and sell this food to local people. So we are wondering why it doesn't happen. Why did we allow big corporations, big supermarkets to decide what is on our plates. Why do we want to eat unhealthy food? Do we want to eat junk food? Do we want to be ill? I'm sure no one wants to be ill, and everyone wants to live in a great, healthy environment. So we have to realize that food production is also very much related to the environment. So we have to change this. And the question is, what does this have to do with Poland? The answer is very simple. In Poland, we have a beautiful traditional farming system, which is not backwards, not old-fashioned, but, in fact, is very up-to-date. And I often work with international organizations, and I recently learned, for example, that France and England are doing a big effort to change their agriculture into the so-called "normal agriculture." What is this "normal agriculture" for them? "Normal agriculture" is equal to our traditional way of agriculture. So why are we saying that our agriculture system is bad? Why do we let ourselves believe [that]? And thanks to these great, traditional methods of agriculture, we have very rich biodiversity. We are very proud that [one in four storks] on this planet is Polish, has Polish nationality. (Applause) So, let's visit Poland. The basic information about Poland. We have almost 39 million people. 16 big provinces, 23 national parks, many landscape parks. And 1.5 million family farms. Great, really fantastic people. Very knowledgeable. Living a very ecological way of life. People from whom one can learn a lot. And the majority of these farmers -- keep in mind, 1.5 million. The majority of these farmers use traditional and ecological methods of farming. That means, always very recyclable, nothing is wasted on the farm. They use methods of neighboring plants. There is rotation. All of what was done in the past, and which is very much supported now by the modern way of agriculture, which is called "ecological agriculture." But one has to keep in mind that ecological agriculture is just very much based on the traditional way of farming. This is only a modern name for traditional farming. So these people are [living] an ecological way of life. And based on their wisdom of generations, they know, from generation to generation, how to protect and [preserve] the land, how to care with loving heart about the land. And it is still natural that all farmers in Poland make [preserves] for winter, and store food in a traditional way. And then, the lady farmer's kitchen is the best laboratory, the best place to learn how to make good quality food, how to [serve] food, how to store food. And also, from these farmers, we can learn the so-called vanishing occupations. Thousands of Polish farmers still know how to make baskets, how to make Easter [palms], how to make clothes, how to build a traditional house. And this is our treasure. We have to realize that in [most] countries, this has already been lost. We have around a million [draft] horses. And Polish people are very lucky that they have farmers who can still work with [draft] horses. Because, for example, in Western countries, in America, they [invest] a lot of energy, and spend lot of money, trying to get this knowledge back. And Polish people are lucky that we have wise farmers, who are passing their wisdom to children. Not only by theory, but also by practical experience. And in fact, one cannot learn this wisdom at school, in [college]. One should get this wisdom from another person. The wisdom has to be passed from one person to another. And thanks to these farmers, we have very beautiful landscapes, which are very attractive to tourists. So, another economical benefit. Tourists are coming to Poland for the rich biodiversity, tourists are coming to Poland because we have very beautiful landscapes. And the farm is also a great place for children to grow up. [There], they learn the values which really matter in life, and the skills which are very necessary in their lives. So, it is up to us whether these farmers will produce more food and reach their full capacity. Because so far, now they produce mainly for their families. And why? The reason is simple. They can't sell their food. What irony that they can't sell their good-quality food. So, we have to change. We have to change, and the question is, how can we do it? Actually, the answer is very simple, because it is up to us how to organize ourselves. It is up to the consumers to support traditional and organic farmers, to buy, to organize, and shorten this food chain, which will end in there being a direct link between consumers and producers. A lot of different methods can be established where the group of consumers are organizing themselves, and cooperate with a group of farmers, getting very good-quality food for a very cheap price. And I am witnessing this. And the other very important solution is to put different solutions into economy, which are pro-ecological. And here, we have an old house with solar panels for heating water. It doesn't mean that I want to keep the Polish countryside old-fashioned, no. I want the Polish countryside to be very modern, using all the 21st-century technology, photovoltaic modules, ecological houses, energy from the sun, from the wind, a special shape which is energy-saving. And all that can be done. And it's all up to us, the consumers, to decide where our money, taxpayer money, will be put. And we have to demand from our government that our money be put into what is good for us, what is good for our health, and what is good for our environment. The Polish countryside can produce energy, renewable energy. Buy at the local level, and use it at the local level. This is another thing which needs proper regulation. So, we can do a lot. And the question is -- and probably everyone will say, "Oh, small farms are not economical." I've heard this a thousand times. OK, then I'm going to say we have to change our approach, we have to change our counting. Not count the tons of something per hectare, but count the quality and variety of food. And we have to [include] in our counting the cost of the destruction of the environment, which is caused by big agriculture farming. We have to count the cost of different social problems, which we are facing because of destroying small family-farming. The opposition to family farms which produce very good-quality food, and thanks to their methods of farming we also have a very nice environment. And there is no problem. These farms are the workplace for millions of people. So, another very important point, farmers don't need subsidies. They need good regulation. They need facilities where they can sell their food for a real price. And this is what they demand. And we have to decide what we want to get, and how we want to get [it]. If we want to have good-quality food. I can hear a question -- "It's too expensive." No, it's not expensive, because quality food has a real price. Junk food, which we buy in supermarkets, we pay at least 2, 3, or 4 times. We are paying for the food, we are paying for the doctor, because this food makes us sick. We are paying for cleaning the environment. We are paying with social problems, for example, the unemployment of the small farmers, who are losing their jobs. So, if we want real food, if we want biodiversity, if we want freedom, we have no other option than to support Polish family farmers, and support small family farmers all over the world. And I think it is a big pleasure to support them. And they will feed us with a loving heart as they have done for centuries. Thank you very much. (Applause) Paul Klipp: Thank you very much. Jadwiga Łopata: I brought some samples. For you to decide. (Applause) This is great bread from a traditional farmer. Very hard, good quality, healthy, from good grain. P.K.: Did you bring enough for everybody? J.Ł.: And this is supermarket bread. In plastic, full of chemicals, GMOs. So, up to you to decide. (Applause)

Video Details

Duration: 18 minutes and 54 seconds
Country: Poland
Language: English
Genre: None
Producer: TEDxKraków
Director: TEDxKraków
Views: 917
Posted by: tedxkrakow on Dec 15, 2010

Talk delivered at TEDxKraków, on October 15, 2010.

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