There is a gap between food consumers and food producers, between citizens and farmers. The transition towards a novel, fair and more sustainable food system implies a repositioning of the farmer in the food chain. But who is the man or woman on the field? How fair or sustainable is the current food system, and what can citizens do in their daily life to support this transition? Those are key questions in the debate. They are relevant for policy makers as well as for all the actors in the food chain. And for sure, these questions are also relevant for us, consumers, and not at least for the youngest among us. That’s why COCOREADO consortium partners also invest in the dialogue with youngsters.
Tessa Avermaete, project manager of COCOREADO, gave two workshops at the Paridaens Institute, which is located in the heart of Leuven. The interactive audience was a group of 14-year old students. They already had courses on sustainability, and learned about the 3 P’s: people, planet, profit. They know a lot about science and technology, and even grow plants on several substrates. They do know about the European Union. Many of them have a vegetable garden, and all of them are concerned about climate change.
In this workshop, all of that background came together. We talked about the growing global population and the challenge to feed everyone. We looked at different food products and the labels that you find on packaging: organic labels, origin of food, fair trade labels, nutrition scores, … We evaluated food in terms of people, planet and profit.
Furthermore, it is remarkable to see how none of these pupils is willing to become a farmer. Many reasons were put on the table. It is hard work. You never have a day off. It’s such a risky job. You don’t get much income. Land and machinery is too expensive.
There are a lot of misunderstandings about food and farming. The gap between consumers and producers is enormous. Yet, these workshops demonstrate how much children are interested in food and farming. They are enthusiastic to share their opinions and to learn. And above all, it illustrates how bringing European projects to the classroom can be both an added value and a joy.
Tessa Avermaete – KU LEUVEN