Plataforma Aprofitem els Aliments brought together different local food-waste fighting initiatives with their networking event ‘Fem Pinya’ in Barcelona today in search of creating some synergistic energies. The usual suspects showed up, including the Food Bank, Depart. of Public Health and the Regional Waste Agency. Some new & refreshing initiatives got a chance to present their projects and ask for support but in a room of about 20 people, two really caught my attention.
It was a middle-aged man and an elderly woman who rocked up in typical mother-and-son fashion. You could tell that they even dressed up for the occasion, not really knowing what to expect from the event. The old lady was wearing a freshly ironed black and white retro print blouse and skirt while her son, although in jeans and sneakers, took it up a notch with a pressed shirt and tie. The two of them made such an endearing pair as they silently followed discussions and presentations with great interest.
In the 2nd half of the get-together, we shifted the seating arrangement into a giant circle so we could each introduce ourselves as well as our respective food waste fighting activities. When it came to them two, the son spoke up and said the following:
“Hi everybody, I came along this evening after seeing the event poster in this civic centre earlier today and felt a real need to. With this issue of food waste I understand that there is a great excess of food out there. But as a concerned citizen, what I don’t understand is why they are not bringing that food to where it is needed? Hunger is a real issue, even here in Spain. Why are there no transport companies or something, working to bring it to people who need it rather than let it rot in the the fields? And with all the hard work farmers put into producing it! I am outraged by this injustice! Does anyone know the answer to this? Because I genuinely don’t know…”
Needless to say, what he said broke my heart. Particularly because I got the impression that the issue of hunger he mentioned seemed very close to them (besides the fact that he was right about the unequal distribution of food being blatantly outrageous!). Why do we live in a world where the are pockets of food abundances and others with such scarcity, side by side? It so contradictory yet such a harsh reality!
Some people tried to give him answers in relation to relief actions they were undertaking. But most of me just wanted to tell him I agreed with him 100% but that unfortunately the solution was not going to be a simple as arranging for a bunch of trucks to go pick up the produce and bring it to the city for distribution to those in need. If only it was…
By the time the discussion had tapered off and people broke off into their little networking groups, I went to offer them some recycled snacks that were provided. An ice-breaker of a gesture on my part made way for the old lady with some spectacularly blue eyes tell me that she, herself, was a farmer! And that she couldn’t actively participate in the discussion as she is hard of hearing but that she was definitely following what was being said.
She leaned in holding on to my arm, in that cute way most grandmothers do when they’re telling you a story and want your full attention, and told me a little more about her story. She worked the land in Galicia, NW Spain (hence the blue eyes and fair skin, I thought) and told me how much hard work it was to plant a seed, take good enough care of it for it to grow, then harvest the food correctly, box it up and send it to the market on time. She also spoke of how hard it was to deal with bad weather and its negative effects on the crop & its harvest; saying that the rapidly changing weather of today would just be making it even more difficult.
I could see it, just as she was describing it and felt such a deep gratitude for her reminding me of this. So much so that I had to share her story with you in the hope that it will encourage and remind you as well to treat your food with respect. Respect for the blood, sweat & tears both the people who grew it as well as the ground that hosted it for it to arrive on your plate and nourish you. Don’t waste it in vain, use it wisely.
Food is so much more than what is on your plate, scoffed down in 15 minutes and digestively dealt with later. So much more – and that, my dear foodists, is what Foodisms is all about!