Latin American Studies

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¡Qué rico es! Citizens bringing to bear food on health, equity and sustainability in Ecuador

Join us for a talk with agronomist and innovation sciences scholar Dr. Stephen Sherwood
Presented by GPLASC (Greater Philadelphia Latin American Studies Consortium) and LAS

A great deal of energy has been invested in attempts to influence the thinking in science and government in Latin America on the problems of industrial food and the benefits of agroecology and food sovereignty. Meanwhile, people everywhere must take responsibility for creating the changes they want to see through daily food practices in their families, neighbourhoods and social networks. In addition to organising for ‘resistance’, social movements call for greater attention to the latent potential in daily living and being ,or existence.

Ecuador’s Colectivo Agroecológico, a network of networks of agriculturalists and food activists, concluded that the logic of modern, industrialised food had become so influential in national politics that it was no longer realistic to expect government officials to represent the public interest, so it decided to place the responsibility for a transition to food sovereignty in people’s hands. In October 2014 the Colectivo launched its ’250,000 families!’ campaign (www.quericoes. org), aiming to inspire a critical mass of 5% of Ecuador’s population to join a ‘citizen’s agenda’ of food sovereignty. The Colectivo estimates that the combined purchase of these families in farmer- sold, Andean-based, agroecological food would represent an investment of about US$300 million per year.

Recently, the campaign found it not necessary to ‘mould’ or ‘educate’ these 250,000 families to practice responsible consumption, but that this untapped resource already existed in the country. Instead, the campaign views its task as helping to identify and connect these families and inspiring them to publicly share experiences. This is being achieved through food fairs, gastronomic events, creative communications and sensorial workshops. The latter consists of innovative and playful tests through which people get re-connected to the flavour, feel, smell and sound of food. This has proven to awaken powerful memories, motivations and desires in them. Two years on, tens of thousands of families from all walks of life have joined the campaign. Once dependent on the politics of the state, a growing number of families are now working together to eat well, healthily and locally - not just as individual households, but also as a collective, household- and street-level force of vitality and democratic food.