woensdag 18 september 2013

Grandmother's Consciousness about Food

Yesterday, in Ghent, my new 2nd home where I work as graphic assistant for the next weeks,  I attended the lecture "The Future of Our Food" by Vandana Shiva, followed by words from Jeroen Olieslaeghers and Thierry Kesteloot, to end with a note how we can change our own habits to leave this world a better place. It was all about seeds, monocultures in the food but also in the mind, biogenetics and privatisation of seeds (and knowledge). It was not the evening that changed my whole life, but there were interesting quotes I want to share. 

Vandana Shiva, source: wikipedia 
Who is Vandana Shiva?
This lady was the reason of my presence; I didn't give too much attention to the subject. Apart from the fact she is a scientist and an activist, I know she is an ecofeminist. I'll copy another thing from wikipedia to give a clear definition (although researchers say there is no clear definition): "Ecofeminists connects the exploitations and domination of women with that of the environment, and argues that there is a connection between women and nature that comes from their shared history of oppression by a patriarchal Western society." Several years ago I bumped into this concept, and I have tried to read more it, because gender studies and environment both interest me a lot, and inspire me for many stories. I had hoped Vandana would tell more about ecofeminism, but there were not so many words about the role of women in "the food from our future". I wanted to ask it, but there was no time for more than 3 questions... 

The biggest reference to the role of "women" in (re)connecting the human with nature, healthy (bio-)food... was made by one of the panel speakers, who told us that when his grandmother prepared a meal, it was for 3 hours of socializing. She was very consciousness about the food, and gave it a lot of love, because it would reproduce a lot of love. Now we don't have time anymore to invest in healthy life and food. He called us we don't need a "new consciousness", but have to go back to the "consciousness of the grandmother". I liked this quote. It reminded me to the philosophy around Ayahuascu, the Russian mythology of Baba Yaga... In the womb of Grandmothers, mothers Earth, Mother Ocean... we are all born, and there we probably all will end. I like this metaphor... to go back to the grandmother, to reconnect back with healthy life. 

"Monocultures in food creates monocultures in the mind"
The whole lecture started with the fact that when Vandana was picked up from the Belgian airport she remarked all our corn had the same height. In India, she said, they have different heights. It is true. In many countries you only can find "beautiful", "perfect" vegetables, fruits... Tomatoes are thrown away if they are not red and shiny. People invest a lot of money in genetics... to create "the perfect food"... but what is the perfect food? Vandana critisized the fact (ok, here we have some ecofeminism) that all scientists of multinationals -which she calls technicians, not scientists- try to control nature, try to control life... but that it does not really bring the world, us all... to a better place. "Everything has to be engineered, to look like a machine." 
We spread everywhere pesticides. 
And all because of money. 
We measure yield/ha, not health/ha. 
Money, power and control destroys the earth, because it let us all forget we're all connected. We should live next to each other, horizontal, not trying to have control over each other, living vertical. 

Seeds and deeds
Of course words are only seeds. Most people are already aware of what is going on with our health, food, environment... but the next step, maybe the most difficult, is to take action. It can be everything. Just planting sunflower seeds on every ugly piece of ground you find. Planting fruit trees and share the fruits with your neighbourhood. Buy bio-food in supermarkets, because they are the big players in our whole food circuit. The demand of the client decides what they will offer. If you only buy in nature shops, you'll not affect super markets. You've to know the tricks to win the game. Even in power and there are many weak points. It is up to find them and go for it. 

In the end of the lecture, they all gave us seeds to plant somewhere to grow bio-tomatoes, and a small booklet about the "law of seed", which is about privatization. I'll try to read it soon, and give some review about it. First I am going to plant some seeds ;)

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