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(en) Freedom 6320 19th Oct. 2002 - Putting food first

From FreedomCopy@aol.com
Date Tue, 29 Oct 2002 07:41:23 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

Campaigners staged actions round the globe for the
eighteenth Anti-McDonalds Day on 16th October. When
McShit opened its first outlets in Italy several years ago, a
group of food producers and restaurateurs got together to
plan their opposition to the conglomerate and all it
represents. The Slow Food Movement was the direct result
of this. The Movement's aim is to restore local food,
produced by traditional methods and cooked in traditional
ways, to the cities and towns of Italy and the rest of the
It's meant that corporate capitalism is being fought by local
people who not only reject shit, bland, factory-produced
food but who are also asserting the primacy of indigenous
practices and customs. This is the crucial point. We are
what we eat, but we're also surrounded by local customs.
Folklore and webs of relationships make us the social
creatures we are. They express our cultural and historical

To quote the Slow Food Movement manifesto, "our
century, which began and has developed under the insignia
of industrial civilisation, first invented the machine and then
took it as its life model". We can still unplug the machines.
The Movement now has members in most European cities,
including London. It encourages the spread of local recipes,
and celebrates places to eat where the customer is seen as
someone interested in tasting wholesome food in a relaxed
and convivial atmosphere. "A firm defence of quiet material
pleasure is the only way to oppose the universal folly of fast
food", the manifesto says.
This builds a self-confidence in the food producers and
chefs, and establishes a demand for locally grown organic
food. This in turn leads to fewer food miles and more jobs in
the local economy, which increases the amount of money
spent and saved locally. It's the opposite of what the global
corporations do, taking profits out of local communities and
putting them into overseas banks.
This renewed emphasis on things local gives us the
opportunity to return decision-making firmly to individual
neighbourhoods. Along with our local food and bread, we
can also plant energy crops to fuel our combined heat and
power units. District heating schemes are being set up
round the country, including one here in my own East
Midlands region, the Sileby Energy Trust. This uses
chicken shit and discarded wooden pallets, but others have
different energy sources.
This approach to self-managed energy supplies counters the
centralising tendency of big government and prevents power
companies from holding local people to ransom by cutting
off electricity supplies. The food we eat, the energy we use,
our forms of transport and the homes we occupy - these are
either a nightmare of town planners and other assorted
'experts', or the conscious thoughts and deeds of committed
citizens trying to make their lives, and those of other
community members, self-directing and autonomous,
independent of the state.
Wind, solar power and methane all offer communities
greater freedom. Consequently, they allow greater diversity
in the natural world. With renewable energy sources in
place, local decision-making can't be undermined by
bureaucrats or power companies.
Food we grow ourselves is a start, but much better to rent
two or three allotments as a group and grow organic fruit
and vegetables for sale to neighbours or local shops and
restaurants. In the East Midlands, we have a number of
farmers' markets. These allow a group of us to sell our
organic produce to the people of one particular market town
(only we can't call it organic, because we haven't bought our
badge of approval from the Soil Association ...)
The act of growing food suggests further employment
prospects. Produce needs to be transported, for example.
Box-schemes need to be prepared. It can also lead to local
celebrations of the crops, or food-tasting sessions.
This long, slow journey back to vibrant communities can
only be begun by people with vision. But I think the time
has never been better, given the renewed interest in all
things local and people's total distrust and disrespect for all
so-called 'experts' and politicians.
Even traffic without noise and pollution is now a reality.
Electricity generated by solar power (photovoltaics) means
the supply and operation of electric trams and ultra-light
railways can now be done without pollution or noise at
either end of the generation, whether input or exhaust. This
adds a further dimension to the ability and autonomy of
mass-transit systems and their ability to transform our lives.
Taking back the streets becomes a real possibility when we
propose these forms of transport. But if we don't argue and
campaign for people-friendly transport, then distinctly
unfriendly transport experts will impose larger roads and
bypasses on us.
This isn't a plea for techno-fixes, just a recognition that
certain technologies have the potential to enhance the
quality of the lives of us all. Both the scale of this technology
- appropriate - and its energy sources - renewable - counter
the imperatives of corporate capitalism. We build it so we
own it.
No long-term mortgages would be left hanging over us,
whether financial or in the form of toxic waste waiting to kill
our grandchildren. We've got to do it to them before they do
it to us. Our defence should begin at the table.
Mike Hamilton

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