Report number 3 from Stanley Feder:
On Friday I went to a session called “Food Policies—Laws, Rights, and Policies.” The purpose of this session was to discuss the themes of a chapter with the same title that will be part of the Terra Madre report to world, national, and local leaders. I had them impression those leaders would mostly have positions in government or international organizations.
The foundation of the argument that was made was that the development of sustainable food policies must be rooted in the right to food. The right to food entails regular access to food (no one should go hungry), the quality and quantity of the food must be adequate to meet people’s needs, and cultural norms must be respected (e.g., don’t make beef available to Hindus).
Prerequisites for creating such a system are: land reform, access to water, rights and adequate pay for farm workers, the safeguarding of traditional knowledge about food production, and sustainability.
During the Q & A people talked about how difficult it was to get water if you don’t have water rights, or how the Bureau of Land Management has let large corporations despoil good grazing land, or how small farmers feel they don’t have a chance influencing Washington.
When I got a turn to speak I thanked the panel for their good work, because I believe it is necessary to articulate principles. It gives Slow Food moral and intellectual authority. I also said that I was frustrated with what I was hearing from the panel and the audience because moral authority was not enough. Moral authority has little persuasive power in Washington, Paris, or Moscow when going up against the money and “research” with which large corporations arm their lobbyists. I said I believed Slow Food needed to take political action as well. And if tax laws prevent Slow Food [which I believe is a 501(c)3 organization] from lobbying, then a new organization needs to be created. This was the first statement during this session (and we were well into the session) that received applause. After the session and during lunch I overheard a number of people talking about how regulations and laws work against small or organic or traditional producers.
I was feeling frustrated and discouraged going into the meeting of the US delegates the next day.