What is the landscape we are creating?
by Lucia Fernández
During our FOF meeting in the wonderful Holland, I was very amused by the landscape and the differences in the ecosystems comparing to the place were I am coming from, which were always a source of inspiration.
Going deeper into this topic, there was a place in the programme which specially made me reflect on how our diets can influence the landscape, and also what is the landscape promoted by our diet.
Facilitated by Lidia Fanjul, all the group had the chance to get inmersed in a non formal session where it was possible to make a composition with small designs that finally showed as a big picture of the landscape promoted by the food each one of us are eating.
That simple exercise allowed us to present, in a very graphic way, a reflection on diets starting from one person, showing that our impact in nature starts from the individual to the community and broaden levels.
It was very pleasant to check that people concerned about nature promote, through their food habits, very healthy ecosystems. But it was also present, on the other hand, the difficulties on being coherent with the landscape we would like to see, and how hard is to make people aware on the impact of our more essential actions, such as eating.
One of the hardest points when discussing the issue was how to ensure that all people can have access to adequate and nutritious food produced in an environmentally and socio-culturally sustainable manner, which would lead us to more friendly landscape, rich in biodiversity and strong enough to protect local varieties of species and seeds heritage. It was no clear how to induce changes in the mainstream food system in order to promote a more local, diverse and healthy landscape. It was very well reflected that people who is concerned about their own impact on the earth have to make great efforts to adequate their diets to their ethics. So consequently, the majority of the world population, who is not reflecting intensively on that -the biggest part do so just because there is not such a great choice in terms of diets for them- are far from connecting landscape and diet, and acting to design a landscape related to an specific diet.
Other issue that came up within the discussion was the fact that many times we can hardly see the effects of our diet in the landscape because this is showing up far away from the place where we live. Regarding to this point, it needs to be said that none of us could boast about having a 100% local diet. At an individual level, the personal decision of following a food ethic can point towards a more environmentally friendly diet, or in other cases, accept a moderate ecological foodprint related to food transportation in order to be able to follow a more healthy criteria, and this was also concerning all the people in the discussion.
As it is also a rule when talking about food ethics, and this was not an exception, animal equality and animal rights were also on the table for discussion. Relating this point to the landscape, it was interesting to reflect on the role of animals in our landscapes. There were several expressions of ecosystems were animals can have an important task enriching biodiversity and regulating multifunctional forests and fields which are managed with a productive-but not only- vision.
Here the importance of bees as a key species was pointed out by several people involved, but regarding other animals and the anthropocentric concept of livestock there was great discussion. Leaving apart the personal decision of whether eating or not eating animal products, it was very interesting to try to reconstruct the images of the historical landscapes created around animals (as for instance it is very clear in the Mediterranean countries since the roman’s period) and what it’s more, how this landscape could, over centuries, influence the social organization and culture, and compare it with the current food industry which is managing not animals but just products.
All that reflection came up within small groups, and after, the big group of participants designd together the landscape we see in the Future of Food.
As a conclussion, we can say that sustainable diets have been proposed as a way to address the need for nutritious and adequate food in the context of the many challenges facing the world today:
– Providing and ensuring food access-food security and reducing world hunger and poverty,
– promoting biodiversity and fighting the climate change,
– enhancing human well-being and health while supporting social equality and fair trade,
– strengthening local food networks and initiatives,
– and preserving natural and cultural heritage related to food.
Landscapes have been defined as the combination of nature plus culture, and in 2015, the global world culture is translated into a huge impact for our ecosystems, in terms of the effects of production, transportation, trade and waste of food.